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8 Innovative Recruitment Strategies to Hire People with Disabilities

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8 Innovative Recruitment Strategies to Hire People with Disabilities

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), 20.7 percent of working-age people with disabilities in the U.S. have jobs, compared to 68.3 percent of working-age people without disabilities. While research continues to prove disability-inclusive hiring provides significant benefits for employers, when it comes recruiting employees with disabilities, many employers don’t know where to begin.

From overall branding to interview processes, incorporating appropriate recruitment strategies can make all the difference to attract job seekers with disabilities.

Here are some innovative recruitment strategies to help you hire people with disabilities:

1.       Incorporate inclusive employer branding – As an employer, having a good reputation is not only important to attract customers, but also to attract job seekers and retain employees. According to LinkedIn, 75 percent of job seekers research a company’s reputation and employer brand before applying. Employers seeking to hire people with disabilities should ensure their messaging conveys their inclusiveness. This means providing visual representations of people with disabilities and written language indicating they are a disability-inclusive employer on all recruitment materials. Employers should also avoid listing job requirements that aren’t truly necessary. Language such as, “must be able to lift 30 pounds,” can deter people from applying who would otherwise be well-qualified for the position.

2.       Pursue passive candidates through social media – It’s estimated that 75 percent of people who aren’t looking for a new job would consider an offer if it’s presented to them. A passive candidate is a potential job applicant who is not actively seeking a new job but is open to switching jobs if an opportunity is presented. Social media recruiting is a great way to seek out passive talent, as most job candidates will have social media accounts. Employers can use social media networks to search for candidates, reach out to them and build relationships, and encourage them to apply for vacant job positions. Many employers also focus on enhancing their overall social media presence to improve engagement and reach more job candidates. When seeking to hire people with disabilities, employers can focus on participating in Twitter chats and engaging with disability organizations via their social media handles.

3.       Recruit remotely – From mobile-friendly applications, to video and text interviewing, innovations in technology make it easier for employers to connect with job seekers. For some candidates with disabilities, using strategies like video interviewing can be helpful, as this allows them to interview in locations most accessible for their needs and saves on travel time. Additionally, providing options such as texting to schedule and confirm interviews or engage with applicants can be helpful for those who have speech or communication needs that make communicating via text most accessible. In general, to ensure accessibility for all job seekers, employers should provide multiple ways for job seekers to communicate with recruiters.

4.       Host inclusive hiring events – Many disability inclusive employers proactively seek out job candidates with disabilities by hosting or participating in inclusive hiring events or job fairs. Employers like Microsoft host inclusive job fairs that provide opportunities for job seekers with disabilities to meet local and national recruiters, learn about job opportunities in a variety of fields, and gain information to help them get a job (i.e. resume writing skills). Other employers choose to participate in inclusive hiring events hosted by disability-focused organizations. For example, Getting Hired hosts multiple Online Career Expos throughout the year to connect job seekers with disabilities to employer partners. These provide a unique and fully accessible opportunity to talk one-on-one with recruiters and hiring managers in real-time.  

5.       Connect with local disability organizations and university disability offices – Employers who want to recruit more employees with disabilities should reach out to those with direct connections to people with disabilities. This includes local disability organizations and university disability services offices. Often these organizations not only provide employers access to strong candidate pools, but also can serve as resources for disability-focused employer trainings.

6.       Highlight accessible features of the job location/position – Today’s job seekers aren’t just looking for jobs with desirable salaries and perfect job duties. They also want to know other benefits an employer can offer, such as proximity to public transportation or open office floor plans. Job seekers with disabilities are often drawn to employers who offer flexible work hours or telework options, provide both open office and quiet spaces for working, along with other inclusive office features.

7.       Educate ALL staff – Goals for disability inclusive hiring should not begin and end within an employer’s HR department. Truly inclusive hiring means educating everyone within an organization, including executives, managers, and other employees that will interact with co-workers with disabilities. Trainings should not only address topics such as disability etiquette, but should also provide information on reasonable accommodations to help avoid negative bias about the needs of employees with disabilities.

8.       Implement inclusive interview practices – It’s important for employers to ensure every aspect of the hiring process is inclusive of people with disabilities. This includes informing applicants that accommodations for interviews can be provided upon request. Employers should also check for proper physical access to interview locations and address any other needs specified by the applicant. Many employers also participate in disability etiquette trainings to learn general protocol for communicating and interacting with people with various forms of disabilities in interview settings.

To find out more about how to recruit job seekers with disabilities, contact the CareerCircle team at

Contributions to this blog were made by Andraéa LaVant of Solutions Marketing Group.