Inclusion@Work: A Framework for Building a Disability-Inclusive Organization
Build the Pipeline: Outreach & Recruitment
“Where can I find talent with disabilities?” Companies have expressed concern that one of the greatest barriers they face to advancing disability inclusion is the inability to find qualified candidates. The key is effective outreach and recruitment. To effectively build a pipeline of applicants with disabilities, your company can develop relationships with a variety of recruitment sources. Such relationships can be formed through formal partnerships as well as meetings and ongoing contact regarding job openings and candidates. The investment will be well worth the effort. Not only will your company secure access to talent that it otherwise may have overlooked, it will also benefit from other supports that can assist in effectively integrating people with disabilities into your workforce.
Different types of recruitment sources to consider are listed below, with links provided under Resources.
- Public resources, such as American Job Centers (AJCs), state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and community rehabilitation programs, state employment agencies, Employment Networks (ENs) established under the Ticket to Work program, independent living centers (ILCs), the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional offices.
- Private resources, which may include professional organizations, consulting services and companies with expertise in disability.
- Educational institutions, among them community colleges, universities and other institutions of learning and/or training, including those that offer programs for individuals with specific disabilities. Most college campuses have designated offices for students with disabilities, and these should be contacted for recruitment purposes in addition to career services.
- Internship and work experience programs, including those designed for students with disabilities, such as (but not limited to) the Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities (WRP), Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) Career Gateway, Disability:IN Mentorship Exchange, the Viscardi Center’s Emerging Leaders Program and Project SEARCH.
- Nonprofit entities and social service agencies, including labor organizations, service providers operated by and for individuals with disabilities, and other such groups that may provide referrals as well as technical assistance on employment practices, including accommodations.
- Peer networking, which can produce referrals from your own business networks and help you learn what strategies and partnerships other employers use as sourcing pipelines. A local Disability:IN affiliate can connect you to a larger peer network.
Strategies to attract and recruit qualified individuals with disabilities include:
- Hold formal and informal briefing sessions (preferably on company premises) with representatives from recruiting sources. Integral components of briefings include company tours; explanations of current and future job openings and position descriptions; explanations of the company’s selection process; recruiting literature; and a description of opportunities for formalizing arrangements for referrals of applicants.
- Establish formal arrangements for referral of applicants with representatives from recruitment sources, following up with sources and providing feedback on which applicants were interviewed and hired.
- Establish formal training (and deliver it to company employees responsible for recruitment) on how and why to hire individuals with disabilities.
- Provide an accessible online application and use targeted recruitment and social networking sites so that job seekers with disabilities can learn about the company and its hiring initiatives.
- Join employer networking groups, such as Disability:IN or one or more of its local affiliates, that recognize and promote best practices in hiring, retention and promoting individuals with disabilities.
- Post job announcements on accessible web-based “job boards” that specialize in identifying qualified individuals with disabilities (including veterans with disabilities), in disability-related publications, and with specific disability service organizations.
- Participate in career fairs targeting individuals with disabilities, including veterans with disabilities.
- Engage current employees or an employee resource group (ERG) as referral sources and ask for referrals who would make good job candidates and include employees with disabilities on company recruitment teams.
- Build a talent pipeline for youth and young adults with disabilities (transitioning high school students and college students) through mentoring, internships and work experience programs.
- Leverage resources that identify job applicants with disabilities, including databases of individuals with disabilities who previously applied to the company but were not hired and training and internship programs.
- Attract qualified individuals with disabilities through local chapters of organizations operated by and for individuals with disabilities.
- Develop specific and targeted strategies for recruiting, hiring and integrating veterans with disabilities, including wounded returning service members, and implement internal training on these strategies.
- Designate a coordinator or team responsible for targeted outreach programs, including websites, schools and employment assistance programs serving people with disabilities.
- Ensure involvement of existing employees with disabilities in all recruitment activities and processes, for example, at job fairs and on recruitment teams and interview panels.