boy pretending to be a superhero

And how explaining jobs to children can help…

Outside of the developmental disabilities field, who knows what a Direct Support Professional is?

Almost no one.

So, if a person looking for a job has no idea what a DSP is or does, is it possible for them to want that job? No.

They may want a job in which they care for people. But, if they’ve never heard of a DSP job or what DSPs do, they can’t search for that job.

Let’s Ask Kids for Help

Imagine you’re asking a six-year-old, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

You’ll hear some answers like:

  • a nurse or doctor
  • a police officer
  • a teacher

Next, you ask, “what does someone do as a (job)?”

The six-year-old will probably answer:

  • Nurses and doctors help people who are sick.
  • Police officers help protect people and stop bad guys.
  • Teachers show kids how to read and learn.

Those answers are simple and easy to understand.

Obviously, those jobs are far more involved than those one sentence summaries.

So what would happen if you explained in more detail what a teacher does?

Imagine yourself saying, “Well, a teacher has to do lots of things. Teachers enrich student’s minds. They also have to write lesson plans to prepare for every class. There are lots of papers to grade at night and on the weekends. They attend continuing education classes to learn new techniques to assist in comprehension. Teachers also have to manage Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and other special requirements. They have to collaborate with other teachers, administrators, and aides. There are also parent/teacher conferences…”

Now ask yourself:

  • How many kids want to be a teacher based on this description?
  • How many will pay attention to that long and detailed description?
  • Could a child that had no idea what a teacher is, summarize the job after hearing that?


So What Does This Have to Do With Being a Direct Support Professional?

Think of how most DSP job posts and descriptions start out.

They often include industry jargon and abbreviations. (The teacher description used jargon like “comprehension” and “IEP.”)

They also often include vague “feel-good” statement. (For example, “enrich student’s minds” in the long teacher explanation.)

Jargon and vague “feel-good” statements affect the reader/listener in the same way. The person listening is left wondering, “what does that mean?”

When someone hears a job description and their first reaction is, “what do you mean,” that’s creating a barrier. That barrier stands in the way of them becoming interested in the job.

So How Can You Avoid This In Your Job Posts?

Start simple.

Imagine that you have to explain what a Direct Support Professional is to a six-year-old.

If you say, “that’s someone who helps take care of a person with a disability,” that’s easy for most to understand. (Admittedly, many young kids don’t know what a disability is. But that can be quickly and clearly explained too.)

What Simple Explanations Can Do

I’ve intentionally used the example of explaining jobs to young kids.

Little kids are great at asking questions like:

  • Why?
  • What do you mean…?

They keep pushing you to explain things until they can understand.

That’s what you’re after—understanding.

Since people don’t know what a Direct Support Profession is or does, they first need to understand.

If more people know what a DSP does, hopefully, one day little kids will say, “I want to help people with disabilities when I grow up.”

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.