Individualized Learning Plans How-to Guide – Section I, Career Planning & Management, Job Search Skills


"Plans are nothing; planning is everything …" – General Dwight D.  Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

Developing career planning and management skills is the third phase of the career development process.  Whereas self-exploration and career exploration focus on helping students become aware of their interests, skills, and values and the corresponding career options, career planning and management is focused primarily on capacity building activities related to job-seeking and identifying learning opportunities that continue developing their potential for success following high school graduation.  Due to the emphasis on capacity building in this section, an additional set of materials are provided that focus on the youth participating in special education; these are provided in the recognition that additional time or support services may be required for youth with disabilities to be successful. 

Once a career goal has been identified, career planning and management supports students by helping them: (a) acquire the job search skills needed to secure employment; (b) think about how they will continue to develop career readiness skills (both generalizable, i.e. soft, and career-specific skills); and, (c) develop the traits, work habits, and behaviors associated with a lifelong commitment to seeking new opportunities for gaining skills and experiences that maximize their employability.

Participating in ILPs offers students an opportunity to engage in career planning and management by helping them in two ways. ILPs allow students to 1) describe the curricular and extra-curricular learning opportunities they will participate in during a given academic year, and 2) record their accomplishments in these activities as evidence they are developing a range of career readiness skills that can be used in the development of resumes.  Note that career planning and management activities may occur during school or outside of school.

Due to the multifaceted nature of career planning and management, this section is organized into five areas: (a) job search skills; (b) youth leadership and development; (c) career and work-readiness skills (i.e., soft skills); (d) work-based learning; and, (e) financial literacy.  We have also included ideas for supporting students with disabilities and highlighted how using web-based online career systems can serve as an important resource.

This section contains the following:

Job Search Skills

Obtaining a job requires both planning and practicing the prerequisite skills that will help generate success.  These skills include being able to prepare resumes and cover letters, seek out employment opportunities, and successfully conduct an interview.  Being able to write an effective resume and cover letter is an important skill that will serve students throughout their lifetime.  Job search skills include a range of activities including informational interviewing, using one’s social networks to identify possible opportunities, and researching companies and industries of interest.  Finally, conducting an effective interview includes developing one’s ability to respond to questions as well as ask questions that communicate one’s interest and understanding about the position being sought.

Sample ILP Activities   

Selected curricula, lesson plans, and other activities to use and adapt when helping students engage in career planning and management include:

State-Based Career Planning and Management Related ILP Resources to Consider

A sample of state-based resources that can be used for career planning and management follow:

Specific Resources for Students with Disabilities When Developing Job Search or Post-School Transition Skills

While the resources described in this Guide are designed to support all students in preparing to make successful postsecondary transitions, it is important to address one of the primary challenges that students with disabilities will face – disability disclosure. Disability disclosure is a very personal decision, a decision that takes thought and practice.  Students with visible disabilities as well as hidden (not readily apparent to others) disabilities can benefit from accurate information on disclosure.  The following information provides guidance to students, families, educators, and other professionals supporting students on considerations and strategies related to disclosure.

  • The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities: This guide is designed for youth and adults working with them to learn about disability disclosure.  This workbook helps young people make informed decisions about whether or not to disclose their disability and understand how that decision may impact their education, employment, and social lives.
  • Cyber Disclosure for Youth with Disabilities: This document is a supplement to The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities, which helps youth learn about disability disclosure and what it means for them.  Search sites like Google, social networking sites like Facebook, and micro-blogging sites like Twitter have added a new element to disclosure.  Now it is possible to disclose disability status on the internet without even being aware of it.  This can be as simple as a picture of a person using a wheelchair, a comment on a friend's blog about disability, or a profile posted on a disability organization's website.  The goal of this document is to provide youth suggestions on how to make informed decisions about their own disability disclosure and to manage their disclosures online.
  • The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Families, Educators, Youth Service Professionals, and Adult Allies Who Care About Youth with Disabilities: Adults in the lives of young people with both visible disabilities and hidden disabilities can benefit from using this workbook.  This workbook helps adults make informed decisions about teaching a young man or woman about his or her rights and responsibilities in disclosing his or her disability, a decision that will affect the young person's educational, employment, and social life.  This workbook will help adults learn how to support a young person with a disability as he or she takes steps in becoming more independent and self-sufficient.  In fact, making the personal decision to disclose a disability can make the young person more confident in himself or herself and the choices he or she makes.
  • Youth and Disability Disclosure: The Role of Families and Advocates: This InfoBrief highlights NCWD/Youth's The 411 on Disability Disclosure, and explores the role families and advocates play in helping youth understand the importance of appropriate disability disclosure.

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