Career Readiness

Should Teens Have an Employment Specialist?

Some teens need to earn income immediately. Others teens can afford to delay earned income to explore career paths. Both decisions are okay and an Employment Specialist can assist teens with short-term and long-term goal. An Employment Specialist is someone who is knowledgeable about employment opportunities and pre-employment preparation for job seekers in a certain field or industry and geographic location…

Similar to Job Coaches and Career Coaches (see article Should Teens Have a Job Coach?), Employment Specialists start with the end in mind. Normally, the Career Coach introduces the Employment Specialist to teens for assistance with the job seeking process because they are experts in job searching, resume and cover letter building, the interviewing process, and etc. Typically, Employment Specialists travel 80% to 90% of their workday. The salary and required level of education and experience of an Employment Specialist may vary based on the demand. To learn more about the job requirements, salary by state, and similar jobs, visit

Some Employment Specialists are employed by a local career services company or a state agency with a vocational rehabilitation program. Other Employment Specialists choose entrepreneurship and own and operate an Employment Services Consulting firm or perform independent contractor assignments. Most times, Employment Specialists take on the responsibility of Job Developer and Job Coach to reduce the amount of new people introduced to teens.

To avoid burnout, before you accept a vocational rehabilitation position, clearly understand the scope of your work (including knowing which role you are truly performing: Employment Specialist, Job Developer, or Job Coach).

The Responsibilities of an Employment Specialist

  1. Job Development Plan
  2. Job Searching
  3. Job Development
  4. Build Rapport With Employers / Organizations
  5. Travel Training
  6. Work Vouchers For Interview and Work Clothes
  7. Resume and Cover Letter Building
  8. Mock Interviews
  9. Career Fairs
  10. Communicate with Guardians)

Job Development Plan

Employment Specialist create a job development plan to clearly understand the employment goal and the scope of teen’s conditions / restrictions, availability, etc. before conducting job search.

The job searching process is usually a short-term process (between 1 month to 6 months). The length of the job search depends on the complexity of the teen’s conditions / restrictions. For example, if the teen job seeker has a flexible work schedule, no criminal record, at least six months of work / volunteer experience, reliable transportation, work clothes, one or no job terminations, and no known physical or intellectual disability, then solidifying employment is more likely within the first two to three months.

Job Development

Sometime Employment Specialists have to persuade employers to create positions for teens with intellectual or developmental disabilities, english as a second language, or criminal backgrounds. Unfortunately, barriers to employment increase with ethnic names, geographical location, and community crises. For example, a job seeker named Mohammed would have a harder time convincing a white man or white woman to hire him in a rural or southern community. Another example, a pandemic can shut down certain businesses in communities across a nation, which limits or alleviates job opportunities for some job seekers.

Build Rapport With Employers / Organizations

To reduce the likelihood of discrimination or pursuing a dead-end job, the Employment Specialist spends time outside of the office building rapport with local employers, participating in networking events hosted by local workforce development organizations, attending informational interviews, and researching job trends and current events in the news. Also, Employment Specialists work in collaboration with multidisciplinary teams in inter and/or intra agency settings.

Travel Training

Typically, Employment Specialists in metropolitan areas teach teens to use public transportation for job development meetings, interviews, and work. In suburban areas, the Employment Specialists contact legal guardians, public transportation, or county agencies for resources.

Work Vouchers For Interview and Work Clothes

Employment Specialists have consent to transport teens to local referral-based organizations that provide apparel and accessories for job interviews and work such as Dress For Success.

Resume and Cover Letter Building

Employment Specialist assist teens with creating resumes and cover letters (if needed). For resume writing tips, read Top 10 Teen Resume Tips.

Mock Interview

Employment Specialists conduct several mock interviews to help teens prepare for actual interviews.

Career Fairs

Employment Specialists will meet / transports teens to career fairs to network to local employers and interview for positions.

Communicate With Guardian(s)

Employment Specialists updated guardian(s);on the status of teen’s employment opportunities and any changes in the employment goals or upcoming interviews.

If you need any additional advice or assistance, feel free to contact me, Career Readiness Coach, Tish Pope by clicking here.

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