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Job carving is a term most people have never used, but it is a simple idea. We find what a person can do and wants to do. If there is an existing job that matches those abilities and interests – great! If not, we create one. This is MUCH easier than it sounds.

Example: An individual is interested in working in the hotel on the reservation. It is close to her home and she would like to work in housekeeping in the laundry because she is not comfortable working with the public. Generally, those who work in the laundry carry loads of bedding to the washers, from the washers to the dryers and then stand up while they fold the sheets and towels. Due to physical limitations, this employee is unable to do any heavy lifting or stand for long periods.

A job is carved out for her where she sits on a stool for four hours at a time folding sheets and towels.

How to present a job carving solution to the employer: The outreach worker approached the hotel manager and suggested,

“I know you have people in the laundry who spend hours folding towels and sheets. Probably a lot of those people could be doing other things with their time, like working throughout the building, emptying garbage, helping carry guests’ bags or whatever. Don’t you think it is kind of a waste for those people to be just folding towels?”
The manager agreed, but shrugged and said,

“But what can we do? We need to have laundry folded. You can’t just throw it on a shelf.”

The outreach worker continued,

“Well, you see, we just happen to have a person with a disability who lives right down the road here and is looking for a job like that where she could work four hours or so a day. You could just have somebody put the loads of laundry on the table and she could fold everything while they go off and do other work. There’s just one thing, though, you’d have to provide her a chair, so she could do it sitting down.”

The manager agreed that was certainly a reasonable request. A chair was provided and the woman began work. Notice that the outreach worker did not approach the hotel manager and ask for an existing housekeeping position. In that case, she would have had to tell him, “This person wants a housekeeper job but she can’t empty wastebaskets, change beds, load washers or dryers.” In that case, the modifications requested seem extreme. However, when the outreach worker suggested creating a job that the employee could do, the modification requested was so mild – provide a chair – that the manager agreed to it immediately.


Callahan, M. J. & Garner, J. B. (1997). Keys to the workplace: Skills and support for people with disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.
Griffin, C. & Hammis, D. (2002). Job analysis: Key to job retention. The Rural Exchange, 15 (1), 3-6.

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Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. -- P.O.Box 663, 314 Circle Dr., Fort Totten, ND 58335 Tel: (701) 351-2175 Fax: (800) 905 -2571
Email us at: Info@SpiritLakeConsulting.com