The goal for every young person when they leave school is to get a job.  This usually doesn’t happen right away as after school most young people will choose to go to college to further develop there skills and achieve qualifications to help them get a job. However, you may wish to go straight in to getting a paid job and there are different options available.

There are lots of different jobs to choose from and you will need to think about what type of job is right for you. 

 For example:

  • Would you like to work full time, part time, evenings, weekends or flexible shifts?
  • Do you like to meet and talk to people e.g. customers, the general public?
  • Would you prefer to work indoors e.g. in an office or outdoors in a garden centre?
  • Do you prefer to work as part of a team or on your own?
  • Do you have the skills, qualifications and experience the employer is looking for?
  • A vocational Profile will help you decide what type of job could be right for you.

At your school you might get the chance to take part in a transition programme which involves going on work experience or volunteering with an employer. This is a great way to find out what you would like to do. It allows you to sample different jobs and see if you enjoy them or not. After completing a work placement you can decide if you would like to work in this area or if you would like to try other options. 

Remember that most people throughout their lives have different jobs and what you choose to do when you leave school might not be what you ultimately end up doing. It’s ok to change your mind and try other jobs if something doesn’t work out. 

Once you have decided on the type of job you are interested in, there are some options which can help you achieve paid work and support you along the way. These are:

  • Registering with a Supported Employment Organisation
  • Sheltered workshops
  • Self-Employment

Supported Employment Organisations 

These support people with disabilities and health conditions. 

They can support you to prepare for and find a job by offering the following:

  • Job searching skills
  • CV development
  • Applying for jobs either online or paper applications
  • Interview skills for example preparation and practice questions
  • Job coaching, this means training you how to do the job.
  • Arranging work experience for you with employers in your local area.
  •  Continue to support you once you have a job

Orchardville Society deliveres a Supported Employment service and there are many other disability employment organisations across Northern Ireland.  Contact the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment for a list of Supported Employment services in your area, Tel: 02871377709 or Email:

Sheltered Workshops

This is a type of employment that is more common in countries like Spain but is not available in Northern Ireland, Ireland or Sweden.  A sheltered workshop is a place were only people with disabilities are employed and all work together to make products.  These products can be assembling or packaging products, making crafts or even industrial goods used in factories.  Employees receive wages and there is usually support available from the organisation that manages the sheltered workshop.

Self-Employment – this is when you set up your own company to earn money.  This could be because you have a particular skill or interest that can earn you money. Examples include jewellery making, cleaning, making hand crafts, graphic design, dog walking etc. If you decide to go down this route you will need specialist advice to set up your own business and there may be grants and support available to help you get started.

You can find jobs by searching online, in newspapers or you can go to your local Jobs and Benefits office. Depending on the organisation you may have to apply on-line or fill in an application and either email it or post it.  If you are being supported by a Supported Employment Organisation, they can help you search for a job and fill in applications.

Most jobs will have a job description which will provide information about the job you are applying for e.g. hours, selection criteria, salary. You will need to decide if you think you are suitable for the job and if you would like to apply for it.

When searching for a job you should:

  • Be realistic – apply for jobs that meet your skills and experience

If you do not meet the criteria, how can you achieve the relevant experience/qualifications? Do you need to go to college to gain more qualifications or do you need more experience?

How you can get more experience/ qualifications :

        • Go to a supported employment organisation
        • Apply for an apprenticeship
        • Apply for training programmes – vocational training programmes (Catering, childcare, hospitality)
        • Got to your local Jobs and Benefit Office
        • Volunteer
        • Attend college
  • Keep your options open
  • Think about how far are you willing to travel to a job?
  • What hours would you like to work?  (part time or full time)
  • What type of organisation would you like to work in? (public sector- council/government, third sector – charities, private sector -local businesses, large or small business)
  • Pay – you will be entitled to minimum wage depending on your age. This may affect some of your benefits, however it will depend on your wage.

CV (Curriculum Vitae)

This is a document that gives potential employers an outline of your previous work experience and the skills and qualifications you have to offer. It should include :

  • Your name
  • Your contact details
  • Education history
  • Employment history including voluntary work and work experience.

Application forms

This allows the company to find out information about you before deciding to interview you.  Make sure you pay attention to the selection criteria as most employers will only interview you if you meet this.  Application forms will ask questions about your education, qualifications, work experience, interests and why you are applying for the job.  If you have a disability you may want to write this on the application as the employer is required to make reasonable adjustments for you at the interview or if you are offered a job. This could include giving you the interview questions beforehand, having a supporter/ mentor with you at the interview or they may decide to offer you a work trial instead of an interview which is a great way to demonstrate your skills.


If you are selected for an interview here is what you can expect to happen and some tips. 

An interview usually takes place in a quiet office with either two or three people from the company usually sitting behind a table so they can take notes of your answers. When you are attending an interview, it is good to think about your body language. This means your facial expression, hand gestures, eye contact and posture -as this will tell the interviewer a lot about how you are feeling. You want to try and look calm, relaxed, friendly and interested – there is nothing worse than yawning at an interview and looking bored!!

Interview Tips

  • Prepare well for the interview by thinking about what questions you might be asked and practicing your answers. Your job coach or employment officer can support you.
  • Do not be late – first impressions count. If you are going to be late phone and let the employer know.
  • Ask for a question to be repeated if your mind goes blank and take your time answering questions.
  • Do some research about the employer, they sometimes ask questions about what you know about them.
  • Make sure you present yourself well by wearing clean clothes that are ironed and have a shower and wash your hair in the morning.
  • Try and relax and be friendly.

You can ask the employer/interviewer to make reasonable adjustments during the interview if you have a disability. This can include:

  • Giving you the questions beforehand to help you prepare
  • Having a supporter with you during the interview e.g. a job coach
  • Arranging the interview in a room that doesn’t have any sensory distractions e.g. bright lighting, sounds or smells.
  • Allowing you extra time if you have to do an aptitude tests or complete paperwork.

Once you start a job you will have an induction which will tell you all you need to know about working there. This will include information such as when you get paid, how you book annual leave , what to do if you’re sick and what behaviour is expected of employees. There are certain behaviours which  are always expected including:

  • Being on Time.
  • Being reliable and phoning in sick if you are unwell.
  • Being enthusiastic and positive about your job.
  • Having good personal hygiene (showering, washing hair, brushing teeth, wearing clean clothes).
  • Listening to instructions- Asking for help if you’re not sure about what to do.
  • Being trustworthy and honest.
  • Being polite to co-workers and helping to customers.