Connecting to the talent pool
Connecting with talented and qualified candidates with disabilities is easier than you may think!
There are a number of ways companies like yours can identify and recruit talented candidates with disabilities.
- Identify and collaborate with employment service organizations, that assist people with disabilities to advance their careers. Some of these organizations include:
- Consider training and recruitment services at One-Stop Career Centers. These centers are open to serving all job seekers in Massachusetts and offer a range of services.
- Work with local staffing agencies to identify candidates with disabilities.
- Be sure that your company website is accessible, especially if it has an online application feature. To learn if your site is accessible.
- Advertise job openings in disability-specific publications and websites.
- Make certain that any recruitment literature highlights your company’s commitment to hiring people of all abilities, including candidates with disabilities.
- Design your marketing materials to reflect the diversity of your workforce — and in particular, for people with disabilities. Make materials available in alternative formats such as large print, audio and Braille.
- Develop job descriptions that focus on the core duties and essential functions of a job rather than how it is to be achieved.
- Provide hiring managers with access to information and resources about developing inclusive, non-discriminatory position descriptions.
- Contact other businesses that have successfully employed people with disabilities.
- Get involved with the Business Leadership Network, the only national business-to-business organization that recognizes and promotes best practices in hiring, retaining, and marketing to people with disabilities.
- Reach out to community organizations to join their Business Advisory Council (BAC). To identify local existing BACs, contact state vocational and community rehabilitation programs in your area.
- Identify and use existing resources within your company and recognize qualified candidates with disabilities for promotion and career advancement.
- Establish mentoring activities and internships that target youth and college students with disabilities. Doing so will help cultivate talent for your company now and in the future.
Post positions and find candidates on these disability-specific job boards:
- National Business & Disability Council is a leading national corporate resource for hiring, working with, and marketing to people with disabilities.
- DisabilityInfo.gov provides information on employment rights, laws and regulations. Also a resource for employment programs and job accommodations for people with disabilities.
- Tips for Designing Accessible Web Pages from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
A successful business relies on a skilled workforce, but finding workers with the appropriate skill set is often a challenge.
On the other hand, youth and adults with disabilities often cannot get the work experience that their peers typically enjoy during their high school or college years.
Internships can be a win-win strategy for employers and people with disabilities.
1 For employers, the internship is an ideal opportunity to recruit and evaluate potential employees in a natural work setting. Employers may also use connections with school districts and agencies to encourage and implement practices that prepare future employees for jobs in the company or industry.
For people with disabilities, internships provide an opportunity to develop marketable job skills and test an interest in a particular field.
For tips on implementing successful internships, and other work-based learning opportunities, or to learn about successful internship programs that have included people with disabilities, consider the following next steps:
- Contact the local office of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) or Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) about starting an internship at your company.
- Determine whether you regularly include interns with disabilities, if you already have an internship program
- Contact employers that have implemented internship programs to learn about their successes.
- Reach out to the special education department at your local high school to learn about potential internship opportunities for students with disabilities. There are also collaborative schools within the public system and private schools that serve youth with disabilities.
Access Student Candidates
- The Workforce Recruitment Program connects private and federal employers with highly motivated postsecondary students with disabilities seeking summer or permanent jobs. Every year, trained WRP recruiters interview more than 1,900 students with disabilities at colleges and universities nationwide. Employers can search for qualified individuals on the website.
- Emerging Leaders is a highly competitive program that partners with businesses to place college students with disabilities in summer internships and offer them leadership development opportunities. More information about this program can be found on the Emerging Leaders website.
- Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) is an organization that works with employers to identify innovative methods of recruiting and hiring college graduates with disabilities. Membership currently includes over 400 national employers and more than 600 colleges and universities.
Learn more about internships
- National Conference on Secondary Education and Transition shares experiences from employers who have implemented internships at the National Conference on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET).
- Collaborative on Workforce and Disability is a helpful website for employment issues such as internships.
Contact your local school district
Contact your local school district and ask for the special education director. You can also identify and contact a public collaborative or private school that serves individuals with disabilities by searching the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Hare, R. (2008). Plotting the Course for Success: An Individualized Mentoring Plan for Youth with Disabilities. Washington, D.C.: National Consortium on Leadership and Disability/Youth, Institute for Educational Leadership.
1 Padolina, P. Reaching Out to Youth: Microsoft Corporation in Luecking, R., Ed. (2004). Essential tools: In their own words: Employer perspectives on youth with disabilities in the workplace. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, National Center on Secondary Education and Transition.