Late last year, I wanted a broader perspective on the struggle to find more Direct Support Professionals. So I reached out to more than two dozen organizations helping people with developmental disabilities. As I listened to their challenges, I was really surprised by something I heard over and over.

“We’re competing for employees with places like McDonald’s—or anyone who will pay $9–12/hour.”

On the surface, I understand where you’re coming from.

As I write this, national unemployment is 3.9%. There are job opportunities everywhere that pay as much or more than your starting pay for a DSP.

Anyone who needs a paycheck has lots of choices. So that means you have lots of competition for employees, right? Wrong.

A Change in Mindset:

I don’t believe you’re competing for employees with fast food chains, big box retail, or the local grocery store. Why?

Because you are not looking to hire someone who cares most about their paycheck. You’re also not looking for an employee that will make the perfect cashier or stock shelves. You’re looking for a great DSP.

I’m challenging this mindset because I believe it’s holding your organization back.

Obviously, money is an important factor when looking for a job. But, it’s not the only factor.

Did any of your great DSPs get into the DD field to make a fortune? No.

What Motivates Your DSPs?

So why did these amazing Direct Support Professionals choose this work?

If you ask your DSPs, you’ll probably hear answers like:

  • A family member or friend had worked in the developmental disabilities field.
  • Someone they love has a disability.
  • They want to care for people.

Wouldn’t you love more DSPs like them? Of course.

How Can This Help You Find The Great Direct Support Professionals You Need?

Start simple.

Ask your great DSPs why they’re motivated to do this work.

Then write new text that shares why they do this work. Update an online job post or information you take to job fairs.

Sharing what motivates your best DSPs is likely to connect with people who want a job like this.


You’re not competing with McDonald’s. That’s a completely different job with a different ideal employee.

You’re looking for a compassionate person that wants to impact someone’s life.

Help them see how working as a Direct Support Professional offers that opportunity.

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.