“Where can I find qualified applicants with disabilities?”
Many employers tell us that one of the greatest barriers they face in hiring people with disabilities, including veterans with disabilities, is that they have trouble finding qualified candidates. That’s where effective outreach and recruitment strategies come in.
Building relationships with disability and workforce development service providers, such as state vocational rehabilitation agencies, American Job Centers, Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and other community-based organizations, is key in helping you find candidates. These service providers can connect businesses with job seekers with disabilities directly or provide access to candidate databases. Since they have a strong local focus, they can also assist in identifying and training individuals for specific workforce needs.
Partnerships can be particularly beneficial for federal contractors seeking to proactively recruit people with disabilities and veterans in order to meet their goals under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).
Relationships with service providers can be formed through formal partnerships (i.e., signed agreements outlining expectations from both parties) and/or informal interactions ( i.e., ongoing contact regarding job openings and candidates). These organizations can help provide job candidates as well as supports that help bring people with disabilities on board—and ensure their success for years to come.
Dinah Cohen, EARN employment specialist, helps employers understand the benefits of partnering with service providers to build a pipeline of qualified job candidates with disabilities.
When considering a potential partnership, employers should assess whether the organization:
- Is geographically located near employment sites.
- Has candidates who are trained for the position the company typically recruits for.
- Is a mandated partner related to federal contractor status.
- Can offer a diverse variety of job candidates with different skills and qualifications, open to people with various types of disabilities, and different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
You will also want to look for partners that can:
- Post jobs in a manner that will attract qualified candidates.
- Provide reasonable accommodation consultation and assistance.
- Offer resources for assistive technology procurement.
- Provide consistent applicant flow and referral tracking data.
- Develop training and resources for the employer.
- Offer a central point of contact for referrals in multiple locations, as needed.
Resources that Can Help
Maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), this directory provides a list of organizations that can assist with training, recruiting and hiring people with disabilities and veterans.
These centers located in communities throughout the country offer centralized employment and training services to help people both with and without disabilities prepare for and obtain employment. AJCs also help businesses recruit and hire qualified people with disabilities.
These community-based, cross-disability nonprofit agencies are run by and for people with disabilities. They provide an array of services, including those related to employment. They can help employers find qualified candidates with disabilities and advise on employment supports, such as transportation and technology, that may impact an employer’s ability to hire, retain and advance people with disabilities.
ENs are private organization or public agencies that have agreed to provide employment services, vocational rehabilitation services and other types of support to beneficiaries with disabilities under the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program. Employers can contact one or more ENs in their area to let them know they are interested in employing people with disabilities and discuss the skills they need.
The NET is a nationwide network of business consultants that serve as employers’ points of contact for vocational rehabilitation (VR), the primary system of services and resources that specifically addresses the employment needs of individuals with disabilities. The NET’s focus is helping to ensure that the workforce needs of VR agencies’ business customers are met.
VR&E helps employers across the country fill workforce needs with trained, educated and experienced disabled veterans. It provides recruitment assistance based on employers’ specific qualification requirements, and candidates are skilled and pre-screened.