The Hidden Challenge of Attracting DSPs at Job Fairs

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job applicants at a DD job fair

When we’re helping clients attract more DSP applicants, the initial focus is on increasing applications online. With a recent DD job fair in our area, I went to observe, listen, and take some notes.

I wanted to see what’s holding organizations back from more applicants in an environment where people are ready to apply on the spot.

The Challenge at the Job Fair

Everyone within the developmental disability community knows what a DSP is. But, most applicants don’t.

Since this job fair was only for DD organizations, I wondered if the people coming to apply for jobs might be more likely to know. So I asked one of the organizations there if this was the case. I was told, “nope, the people looking for jobs don’t know what a DSP.”

So let’s take a quick overview of the situation at the job fair.

  1. People are here because they need a job
  2. Most potential applicants don’t know what a DSP is or does
  3. There are lots of options for jobs at a job fair, so the question is, “Do I want this job?

And There’s Challenge You’re Facing:

How can someone want a job that they don’t know anything about?

I can hear what you’re thinking, “but we’re at the table to talk to them and tell them about the job.” Obviously, you’re right.

But what happens when:

  • You’re talking to another job seeker?
  • The job seeker listens but isn’t sure, so she doesn’t apply on the spot.

The job seeker likely picks up a flyer or application and walks to another employer’s table. You’re left wondering, “Will they come back to talk? Will they apply?”

Not a great feeling, right?

With those challenges how do you increase the chances someone will apply?

1. Help them understand your opportunity.

Since they don’t know about the job, help them understand. Describe a day on the job as a Direct Support Professional.

It’s easy to go down the path of talking about benefits and qualifications. They’ll ask about these once they’re interested.

2. Share more with them

If possible, bring a DSP from your organization to the job fair. They can share their experience.

They can also connect with like-minded people and answer questions about the work.

3. Despite your best efforts, people might not understand or remember what a DSP is

Keep in mind the amount of information thrown at the job seeker at the job fair. It’s easy to become overwhelmed.

You could give them a flyer focused entirely what they’d be doing as a DSP. Another option would be to add a web address to your business card; that address would go to a brief video showing what it’s like to be a DSP.

These give the potential applicant a better understanding of the job. Because if they don’t understand the job the odds they’ll want to apply aren’t good.

What if…

Right now you’re probably thinking, “great, they understand the job now, but what if these applicants aren’t qualified?”

If you get people interested in the job, they’ll either ask if they’re qualified or fill out the application which has qualifications listed on it.

Obviously, not everyone at the job fair who fills out an application will meet your requirements. And that’s ok. You’re not looking to hire everyone. You want to find great Direct Support Professionals.

To find more great DSPs, you need to increase the number of applications.

To get more applications, you need more people interested in doing the job.

To do that, more people need to understand what a DSP is and does.

Fortunately, at a job fair, you have lots of opportunities to talk to people and show them this is the work they want.


Blitz Media Design helps DD nonprofits save money and get their time back by attracting and retaining more DSPs with simple web tools and process consulting.

Written by Scott de Fasselle

February 27th, 2018 at 10:42 am

Posted in DD,Marketing,Nonprofit

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