Most employers seek talented individuals to join their workforce. The ability to source a ready supply of qualified candidates creates a competitive business advantage. It not only ensures the company can sustain a high performing culture; it capitalizes on having the right employee in the right job at the right time. Recruitment initiatives today must be highly visible, accessible and interesting to job applicants. An essential first step is increasing visibility and establishing your company as an employer of choice. Transitioning from Recession to a War on Talent, companies are experiencing skill gaps and shortages for technical candidates. Broadening the candidate pool to include individuals and veterans with disabilities can meet skill shortages and boost diversity recruitment.
Recognizing the value of accessing candidates with disabilities within the recruitment process is integral to a comprehensive diversity strategy. The disability community is the largest minority group and one that anyone can join at any time. With the rapidly increasing numbers of the aging workforce, many companies have already adopted flexible recruitment strategies. Disability Prevalence or the Aging Workforce.
The benefits of an inclusive recruitment plan, specifically one that includes candidates with disabilities, can foster greater innovation, adaptability, and an increase to the bottom line . It can also reflect a company's dedication to corporate social responsibility and improve company branding. However, many companies have limited resources and staff, creating time constraints for recruitment activities.
Building partnerships with community programs that serve people with disabilities is an effective method for recruiting candidates with disabilities. This is just one of several strategies that can assist companies in effectively recruiting a diverse and talented workforce.
Major companies such as Walgreens, CVS Caremark, Addecco, IBM, and the Office of Personnel Management within the federal government have recognized the following as effective recruitment strategies .
- Job-Shadowing Opportunities - This is an excellent way for job seekers with disabilities to gain first-hand knowledge about business practices, learn about a broad range of jobs and careers, and the skills and educational levels required for filling them.
- Internships & Volunteer Opportunities - These work experiences allow employers to assess potential job candidates while offering program participants the opportunity to apply their skills in actual work environments.
- Recruitment Events for Candidates with Disabilities - There are a variety of different recruitment events for employers seeking job seekers with disabilities.
Bring College Students and Recent Graduates Onboard Through Internships and Entry-Level Positions
The Workforce Recruitment Program, a recruitment and referral program sponsored by the Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, connects employers with postsecondary students with disabilities for internship opportunities, and recent graduates with disabilities for permanent employment.
EARN assists in matching pre-screened, highly qualified students with private and public sector jobs.
Companies looking for candidates with disabilities for summer internship opportunities or entry-level positions can learn more about the program or complete the WRP Candidate Request Form. EARN staff will respond to requests within 3-5 business days to discuss these recruitment needs.
Develop Effective Partnerships with Disability Organizations to Access Talent Pools of People with Disabilities
Community partnerships can assist in tapping into existing talent pools that meet job qualifications . The following organizations are examples of agencies that can help connect employers with potential job candidates with disabilities:
- State Vocational Rehabilitation Office
The National Employment Team, operated by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), helps employers and businesses find and recruit job seekers with disabilities. To find local vocational rehabilitation business representatives contact, Kathy West-Evans, the Director of Business Relations for CSAVR and NET.
- One Stop Career Centers
One Stop Career Centers provide all job seekers, including people with disabilities and veterans, with assistance in finding employment through job postings, publications, and other resources. When contacting these organizations, ask for a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor or a Disability Navigator who specialize in helping individuals with disabilities find employment. For veterans, contact the Local Veterans' Employment Representative (LVERs) and the Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOPs) representative housed at the One Stop Career Centers. Call 1-855-ASK-EARN or email earn@AskEARN.org to obtain a directory of local contacts.
- Veterans Organizations
For recruiting and hiring veterans with disabilities, contact the Service Officer or Service Employment Coordinator at your local Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Service. Call 1-855-ASK-EARN or email earn@askEARN.org to obtain a directory of local contacts.
- Students with Disabilities Networks
An effective method for recruiting college students with disabilities is reaching out to the disability services departments located on all college and university campuses.
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) works with higher education institutions and assists them in developing collaborative relationships between the Disability Services and Career Services office at over 600 colleges and universities.
Post to Disability-Focused Online Job Boards
These online job boards are geared toward job seekers with disabilities and are great places to advertise job announcements. There may be fees associated with posting on some of these sites.
- Ability Jobs
- disABLED Person
- Think Beyond the Label\
- Getting Hired
- Hire Disability Solutions
- One More Way
Job posting boards for Veterans with Disabilities:
Offer Temporary Employment
Employers can integrate job seekers and students with disabilities into their workforce by offering short-term or temporary employment for times when they experience workforce shortages. These opportunities offer both parties a chance to test employment situations and assess the prospects for long term employment.
Create and Maintain an Inclusive Workplace Culture
An inclusive workplace culture involves more than just hiring candidates with disabilities. It may also require training staff on disability awareness, and engaging a variety of networks and individuals in efforts to improve accessibility and inclusiveness.
1. Training HR Staff and Front-Line Managers on Disability Etiquette
Training staff members who are likely to interact with job candidates with disabilities is imperative to creating and sustaining an inclusive environment. While many employers offer basic training on sensitivity to issues of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and other categories, it is important for committed employers to offer training on disability so that managers and HR staff can comprehensively understand the needs and concerns of this diversity group.
Practice interviews for recruitment staff
Allows staff an opportunity to practice disability etiquette and become familiar with interview techniques with a diverse group of job seekers with disabilities.
2. Gathering Feedback from Staff and Community Resources
An important part of inclusion is to complete the feedback loop by creating opportunities to share information and concerns.
Informal surveys to assess staff satisfaction
Surveys of staff satisfaction are often effective ways of gathering information about the workplace. A questionnaire about the recruitment process can often help a company understand the benefits and challenges faced by employees with disabilities during the application process.
Membership in a Business Advisory Council (BAC)
Recognizing the significant role of the business community in facilitating employment opportunities for job seekers with disabilities, many community based organization establish Business Advisory Councils to ensure that they prepare candidates to meet the standards and needs of local employers. Council members offer valuable input to facilitate this process while gaining information about potential candidates, reasonable accommodations and disability etiquette. For example, Abilities, Inc. and Addeco created a disability advisory council to serve as a sounding board for new business practices.
Round Table Discussions
An informal opportunity for employers to provide an overview of their company's background and culture, the type of jobs typically performed, and the specific skills and educational requirements. These discussions can also provide job seekers with disabilities the opportunity to ask questions about such issues as disability disclosure/self-identification and accommodation policies and practices. These sessions could also include one-on-one dialogue with participants.
3. Improving Accessibility:
Reviewing current accessibility standards can be the first step of creating a disability inclusive environment. According to the Job Accommodation Network, several best practices that facilitate increased accessibility include:
- Testing online job announcements and application system for accessibility.
- Ensuring that company website is accessible.
- Checking the workplace for physical and program accessibility.
4. Diversity Recruitment:
Effectively recruiting job seekers with disabilities is one key method of having a diverse workforce and offering a competitive advantage in acquiring talent. Vocational rehabilitation, veterans' service providers, established internship databases, and the disability services centers on college and university campuses are among the many places where employers can find assistance in their diversity recruitment efforts . Below are strategies to increase diversity recruitment:
- Send all vacancy announcements to disability-related organizations.
- Create a statement of interest in receiving applications from applicants with disabilities and clearly post it on the company's website.
- Participate in job fairs, conferences and meetings sponsored by local disability organizations.
- Volunteer to serve on boards of disability focused groups and organizations.
By utilizing different recruitment strategies and community partnerships, these connections can save time and decrease overall costs.
 Lighthouse International. (2011). Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities. New York: Lighthouse International.
 Vogel, N. O. (2009). Dive In: Springboard into the Profitability, Productivity, and Potential of the Special Needs Workforce. Ithaca, NY: Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.
 Riley, C. (2006). Disability and Business: Best Practices and Strategies for Inclusion. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England.
American Job Center Network<http://jobcenter.usa.gov/>
The American Job Center Network is a source for employment information sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and includes tools to help job seekers, students, businesses and career professionals. If you are an employer looking to hire people with disabilities and/or veterans with disabilities, use this website to find your local American Job Center by entering your zip code. Once you have found your local branch, ask for the the Disability Program Navigator (DPN) or the Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER) to speak to them directly about qualified applicants with disabilities.
Strategic Connections: Recruiting Job Candidates with Disabilities<http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/connect.htm>
This resource provides strategies and resources for employers on the recruitment of people with disabilities.
Disaboom Jobs <http://www.disaboomjobs.com>
DisaboomJobs assists companies that are actively seeking to recruit and provide employment for people with disabilities as part of their inclusive workforce. Site links emploiyers to resumes of individuals with disabilties.
Independent Living Centers<http://www.ilru.org/html/publications/directory/index.html>
Centers for Independent Living (CIL/ILC) are consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonresidential private nonprofit agencies that are designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities. Some CILS offer employment services for employers seeking people with disabilities, and most will keep track of employers within their service area who offer these opportunities as they are often contacted by job seekers with disabilities. Employers who are actively recruiting people with disabilities can use this website to locate CILs within their state.
Recruit Military <http://recruitmilitary.com/employers>
Recruit Military is a veteran-owned and-operated firm specializing in military-to-civilian recruiting and provides resume search and job posting resources for employers. Recruit Military uses online and offline products to connect employers, franchisers, and educational institutions with men and women who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life, veterans who already have civilian work experience, members of the National Guard and reserve forces, and military spouses.
Diversifying your Workforce: A Four Step Reference Guide to Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Employees with Disabilities<http://promotions.usa.gov/odep/20100727.pdf>
This General Services Administration comprehensive reference guide provides information for employers on recruiting, hiring and retaining employees with disabilities.
DisABLEDPerson.com provides searchable resume, job posting, recruitment, and compliance resources for employers.
Compensated Work Therapy (CWT)<http://www.cwt.va.gov/>
Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program that supports work-ready veterans in competitive jobs and consults with business and industry regarding their specific employment needs. Services include job matching and employment supports, vocational case management, work site and job analysis, assistive technology, reasonable accommodations, and ADA regulations compliance.
Wounded Warrior Project<http://wtow.woundedwarriorproject.org/>
The Wounded Warrior Project's mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors who incur service-connected wounds, injuries and illnesses (physical or psychological) on or after September 11, 2001. The Wounded Warrior Project’s Warriors to Work program assists veterans with the transition back into the civilian workforce. Employers interested in this program can post jobs and review the resumes of qualified veterans with disabilities.
Getting Hired <http://www.gettinghired.com>
GettingHired is a social networking community and job portal for the 23 million American job seekers living with disabilities. Services are available to employers on a subscription-only basis and include access and exposure to thousands of qualified job seekers and job matching.
Ability Links <http://www.abilitylinks.org>
Employers can use AbilityLinks to expand their applicant pool and identify qualified candidates with disabilities by posting jobs and reviewing resumes submitted through the website. The AbilityLinks website includes a dynamic database that has hundreds of current resumes.
A service of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs's (VA), VetSuccess provides resources that allow employers to find veterans with (and without) disabilities by posting available positions and by working with Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment staff (VR&E) to find qualified candidates.
Hire Disability Solutions <http://www.hireds.com>
Hire Disability Solutions connects employers to potential job candidates with disabilities through resume and searchable job postings.
Hero 2 Hired <https://h2h.jobs/employers>
This Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program provides information, job posting capabilities, and recruiting assistance to employers interested in hiring veterans, including guidance on tax credits.
One More Way<http://onemoreway.org/>
One More Way is an ‘open source’ employment initiative that makes information regarding Job Seekers with disabilities, and the programs that support them, available for use by hiring managers in virtually any industry across the country.
Workplace Diversity <http://www.workplacediversity.com/>
WorkplaceDiversity.com is a job search web site for Corporate Recruiters who are seeking experienced diverse talent. This website creates a connection between companies that support diversity and experienced, distinct candidates by providing one location for recruiters to post open positions for a fee.
Ability Jobs <http://www.abilityjobs.com/>
Ability Jobs provides searchable resume and job postings capabilities for employers interested in recruiting candidates with disabilities. The database includes the resumes of tens of thousands of job seekers with disabilities, from entry level candidates to those with Ph.D.s.
Hire Heroes USA <http://www.hireheroesusa.org>
Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) works with corporate partners to provide career placement services to veterans from all branches of the military, especially those injured or disabled in Iraq or Afghanistan. HHUSA will match the required skills and location of each position with those of veterans in their database and present qualified candidates for companies' consideration.
Easter Seals Disability Services <http://www.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=ntl_top_model_plan>
This Easter Seals model plan compiles best practices for organizations to increase their hiring and retention of people with disabilities. It describes efforts that can be made by employers to support the employment of individuals with disabilities.
Diverse Perspectives: People with Disabilities Fulfilling Your Business Goals<http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/diverse.htm>
This resource provides strategies for employers in building partnerships in order to incorporate individuals with disabilities into their diversity goals.
Enable America <http://www.enableamerica.org/>
Enable America is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing employment among the 54 million Americans with disabilities. Employers interested in hiring people with disabilities can find resources on disability employment (such as Disability Employment 101), become involved in their local community, stay up-to-date on events, and post jobs.
National Employment Team (NET and CSAVR)<http://rehabnetwork.org/busrel/doc/The_NET_tri-fold.pdf>
The National Employment Team provides private and public businesses with a single point of contact to qualified applicants with disabilities, resources in their local areas, multi-state or national marketplace. Vocational rehabilitation programs may also cover the costs of some employee accommodations.
National Business & Disability Council <http://www.nbdc.com>
The National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) is a leading resource for employers seeking to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace and companies seeking to reach them in the consumer marketplace. Employers who become members can receive organization-tailored services to find talented job seekers with disabilities and interns with disabilities, access to information on affinity groups, technical assistance, and may participate in NBDC events. Contact the membership department for details and pricing.
Bender Consulting Services<http://www.benderconsult.com/employers/our-process>
Bender Consulting Services assists public and private sector employers in meeting their diversity recruitment initiatives as it pertains to hiring individuals with disabilities.They have experience in recruiting, screening, and hiring individuals with disabilities trained in various competitive career fields including information technology, engineering, finance/accounting, human resources, office administration, health care, mathematics, biology and other general business areas.
The ForEmployers.com site provides straightforward technology solutions and flexible design strategies that address everyday human resources issues, especially as they relate to current or future employees with disabilities. This site is a part of The Institute for Community Inclusion program at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
Hire Potential <http://www.hirepotential.com>
HirePotential is a national, woman-owned firm offering staffing and consulting services to corporations and government agencies. The firm helps corporations in recruiting, hiring, and retaining people with disabilities and veterans to meet OFCCP and ADA Compliance, Diversity Initiative Solutions, and Website Accessibility.