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ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy - Driving Change Creating Opportunity

Employment and Living with HIV/AIDS Toolkit

Individuals Living with HIV/AIDS

Preparation: Setting an Employment Goal and Making a Plan to Achieve It

The key message at this stage is that preparation continues the process of considering work by exploring the questions, "What change is best for me, and how can I achieve it?"  As with all four stages of considering work (in addition to preparation, these stages include contemplation, action and resolution), this message needs to be considered in the context of four key factors:


Questions to ask

  • How do my medical and mental health affect my decisions about job goals?
  • Can I do the jobs I'm interested in, with or without accommodations?
  • Are there changes I can make in my medical and mental health care that will support me in making a change to employment?

Whom to ask

Health care providers, counselors/case managers, vocational and career counselors

Decision-making required

Things to consider might include:

  • Functional limitation
  • Energy
  • Stamina
  • Dexterity
  • Concentration
  • Side effect management
  • Scheduling medical care
  • Food/nutrition changes
  • Changes in access to medications
  • Changes in treatment regimen
  • Working with a treatment adherence counselor
  • Changes in exercise/fitness activity
  • More attention to sleep patterns

Resources  to assist



Questions to ask

  • What financial and legal issues do I have that would influence a choice about job goals?
  • What steps can I take to address financial/legal issues to achieve my job goals?
  • Are there any programs that can help me save for future vocational expenses?

Whom to ask

Counselors/case managers, legal advocates, benefits counselors, vocational and career counselors

Decision-making required

Consider ways to cover such expenses as school/training, childcare, clothing, transportation, books/supplies and/or computer equipment.

Also consider any history of incarceration, tax or credit/debt problems, immigration status and/or any outstanding warrants.

Coordinate benefits with a transition to work and learn about programs to continue, including after being hired (for example, those relted to housing, health insurance and access to medications).

Resources to assist



Questions to ask

  • How does my mental health affect my decisions about job goals?
  • Do I have the support I need to pursue and succeed in a job?
  • What in my life could make it hard to achieve my job goal?

Whom to ask

Family, friends, therapists, counselors/case managers, spiritual advisors, support groups, 12-step program sponsors

Decision-making required

You may need to develop strategies to:

  • Stabilize housing
  • Manage drug and alcohol problems, harm reduction, treatment and recovery
  • Develop and enhance your support network
  • Manage changes within your family system
  • Manage parenting responsibilities

Resources to assist



Questions to ask

  • What are vocational values, interests, aptitudes, skills and experiences to consider in making decisions about a job?
  • What jobs and employers could be a good match for me?
  • What training/education and employment services can I use to help me reach my job goal?
  • How can I apply the information I've gathered to develop potential job goals?
  • What resources and steps should I build into my plan to achieve my job goal?
  • Would volunteer work help build my capacity, stamina and skills while giving me work experience for my resume?

Whom to ask

Family, friends, former employers/co-workers, people who work in a field/organization of interest, counselors/case managers, vocational and career counselors, therapists

Decision-making required

Consider, for example:

  • Career workshops
  • Informational interviewing
  • Online job boards
  • Vocational evaluation online or through workforce development/One-Stop Career Centers and/or vocational rehabilitation programs
  • Job fairs

Also use information you acquired during contemplation to explore how your strengths and interests intersect in the context of work and consider the job market, economy, technology and available resources to help with training and job search.

Learn about the Social Security Administration's overview of SSI and SSDI work incentives in the agency's Red Book.

Learn about your local Work Incentive Planning and Assistance program (WIPA) to find the community work incentives coordinators (CWIC) in your area. CWICs can help SSI and SSDI recipients make informed decisions about work, achieving financial stability and securing affordable health care.

Consider structured volunteer work and internships as skill building and career development activity. These can be part of a strategy to gain work experience and learn about a job, employer or industry, while you're making decisions about goals for employment.

Explore apprenticeships as a way to earn money while training your way into a career.

Resources to assist