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Customized Employment: Principles and Indicators

From Customized Employment: Applying Practical Solutions for Employment Success

Customized Employment is the voluntary negotiation of a personalized employment relationship between a specific individual and an employer that fulfills the business needs of the employer. The negotiation process addresses areas such as job duties, terms of employment, services and supports necessary to carry out the job duties, and expectations adapted to the needs or special circumstances of one particular job seeker.

Customized Employment strategies result in individually designed services, supports, and jobs negotiated to fit the needs of a specific job seeker or employee. These strategies may include aspects of other employment approaches, such as:

  • Supported employment services
  • Supported entrepreneurship services, microenterprises, or small businesses
  • Individualized job development
  • Job carving and restructuring
  • The development of microboards

Customized Employment Strategies

The Customized Employment process is not a single strategy, service, or support but rather a flexible blend of strategies, services, and supports designed to increase employment options for job seekers with complex needs through voluntary negotiation of the employment relationship. Customized Employment can be useful for all job seekers, including those without disabilities, who have unique circumstances affecting employment. It builds on proven principles, services and supports, and strategies—such as supported employment—that have resulted in success for job seekers with complex needs. It is appropriate for job seekers and existing employees whose changing circumstances require negotiation to customize employment tasks, expectations, or working conditions.

Customized Employment Principles

The following principles are fundamental to Customized Employment.

  • The employer voluntarily negotiates specific job duties or employee expectations.
  • The negotiated employment relationship meets both the unique needs, strengths, and interests of the job seeker or employee and the discrete needs of the employer.
  • The job seeker is the primary source of information and decides the direction in which to explore the job market.
  • The job seeker controls the planning process that captures their preferences, interests, and connections in the community.
  • Even prior to planning, exploratory time is essential to uncover the job seeker's unique needs, abilities, and interests. More formal or traditional assessment may supplement this exploratory phase if necessary, but it should not be used as the primary source of information for planning.
  • Customized Employment results in jobs that fit the individual and therefore have the potential for advancement for job seekers who have been chronically unemployed or underemployed.

The following fundamental principles are shared by Customized Employment and other employment processes.

  • Work occurs in an integrated, individualized work situation in the community or in a personal business alongside people who do not have disabilities.
  • Employment results in pay at the prevailing wage or “going rate.”
  • Employment outcomes may include creating a job through self-employment.
  • The job or business outcomes must be individualized – one person at a time – with no grouping of persons unless they are co-owners of a business venture.
  • The process is facilitated through a blend of services, supports, and resources that include the workforce system and other public and private partners such as disability service providers. These resources are coordinated to meet the job seeker's needs.
  • Customized Employment can be used either prior to or after employment as a strategy to modify job duties and/or other employer expectations for an individual who has complex needs.

Customized Employment Indicators

The following indicators must be present in order for a process to be considered Customized Employment.

  • As a result of Customized Employment, the employee has a personalized job description and/or other employer expectations that did not exist prior to the negotiation process.
  • The individual makes a tangible contribution to the employer’s enterprise.
  • The individual is hired and paid directly by the employer.
  • Customized Employment offers the opportunity for personal representation by a job developer, as appropriate, to assist the job seeker in negotiating with employers.
  • Customized Employment is based on an array of strategies that allow job duties to be tailored to satisfy both job seeker and employer needs.
  • Personal budgets, individual training accounts, and other forms of individualized funding that provide choice and control to the person and promote self-determination are used in Customized Employment.
  • All individually designed services and supports needed by the job seeker for success are offered by the employer, the workforce system, and/or funders of services.

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