Hidden Talent: Best Practices for Recruiting People with Disabilities

Hiring skilled candidates with disabilities lets you acquire top talent in the industry and create a unique corporate culture. Are you leveraging the power of this hidden talent pool?

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a hidden talent pool just waiting to bring value and opportunity to your business. We are talking, of course, about recruiting people with disabilities, a unique demographic of potential employees that boast the necessary skill set, experience, and passion to take your brand forward as a whole. Failing to tap into this lucrative pool is one of the biggest HR mistakes you can make because you might just be wasting a golden opportunity to acquire the top talent in your industry.

Now, provided that you invest time and other resources in developing a strong recruitment marketing strategy, and implement some of the best recruitment practices to attract, hire, and retain people with disabilities in your company, you might very well set yourself up for long-term success in your industry.

Here are the top things you should do to recruit people with disabilities.

#1 An emphasis on company culture

To attract and retain the top talent in your industry, you need to look beyond the paycheck and paid vacation days. Nowadays, employees need and want to join a thriving company culture where they know they will be respected, appreciated, and valued for their hard work and contribution. This goes for all employee groups, including people with disabilities.

Disability discrimination in the workplace is against the law but unfortunately, that doesn’t deter all violations

However, in order to appeal to this group specifically, you will need to further build upon your company’s culture.

Focus on empathetic leadership

People with disabilities are under high risk of discrimination and harassment in the workplace, especially if you don’t invest in training and educating your existing employees on how to welcome new hires with special needs into their ranks. The culture you’re promoting needs to be founded on transparency and honesty, as well as equality in order for your recruits to feel welcome and as a part of the brand.

Create different diversity training programs and materials for your employees. This is where they should learn more about different types of disabilities and understand how the idea of inclusion and mutual understanding is important for the overall health of your organization. Only by making inclusion a way of life at your company will you break down all workplace barriers and provide every team member with equal opportunities.

Make employees with disabilities feel welcome. Help them celebrate important events and holidays, such as Day of People with Disability, R U OK? Day, World Sight Day, World Mental Health Day, etc.

Use different marketing channels and communication activities to increase disability awareness and help more organizations and individuals understand its importance.

You should also create a solid policy against any form of bullying. Apart from hurting your current employees’ feelings, bullying and the lack of empathy may send a wrong message to your future candidates with disabilities.

Adapt your work environment to the needs of employees with disabilities

You need to foster a company culture of transparency and mutual understanding. Encourage your employees with disabilities to talk to you, share their feedback, talk about their problems, and seek help. The supervisors should be trained properly so they can address employees’ different needs properly.

For example, make alterations to your facilities, update your work practices, and invest in the aids equipment that will help an employee with disabilities complete their tasks easier. Also, offer flexible working hours to ensure that each employee at your company, including ones with disabilities, can work when they are most productive.

How does building an empathetic company culture impact your recruitment strategy?

Now, you’re probably asking yourself what implementing an inclusion and diversity strategy has to do with recruiting employees with disabilities. It’s more related to increasing employees’ morale and retaining your existing employees, right?

Well, this is not necessarily so.

By providing equal career opportunities to everyone, a fair treatment, collaborative conflict resolution processes, and diversity education and training, you will position yourself as a socially responsive and flexible brand that cares about all employees, irrespective of their education, abilities, or backgrounds. As such, you will make your company more attractive to different employee groups and have more opportunities to hire skilled employees with disabilities.

#2 Making your recruitment materials accessible

By and large, marketing material is visual. You use colors and other visual elements (such as brand features) in combination with storytelling and emotional triggers to inspire and incentivize potential customers to reach out to your brand and become your loyal shoppers or clients. However, when it comes to recruitment marketing and reaching out to people with disabilities, you need to consider how accessible your marketing material actually is.

Now, there are a few key steps to take.

Polish up your website

To attract relevant candidates to your website, you need to have a solid social media presence. And, your website is its foundation. This is why it needs to be designed strategically.

Namely, think about your visitor’s journey. Once they land on your website, you want to engage them and encourage them to apply for a job. For starters, make sure your website is highly responsive and fast, irrespective of the candidate’s device. Eliminate all elements that may compromise your credibility, such as annoying autoplay content or spammy ads. Have a solid „About Us“ or „Out Missions“ page where a potential customer can familiarize themselves with your brand and missions and see whether they are the right fit for your organization. This is the key to your overall recruitment strategy, not only to targeting employees with disabilities.

Increasing transparency on every level

This is the right time to include your HR specialists into the marketing process in order to create a recruitment marketing strategy that can attract this unique demographic. The materials you use for marketing, as well as the recruitment documents such as questionnaires, job descriptions, and application forms all have to be easy to understand and access via a number of platforms, and in numerous forms.

For starters, you should create a dedicated landing page, where you would provide the details an employee needs to know before applying for a job. Namely, these landing pages exist independently of your website and they can help you a lot with your recruiting process. You can use them to promote specific job openings, job locations, or hiring events. One of their greatest benefits lies in the fact that they are highly customizable, shareable, and trackable. Most importantly, they are a perfect option for brands that want to cater to a certain group of candidates or, in this case, people with disabilities. This is where you should describe your company’s values and missions, provide the information about the job position and, above all, tell prospective candidates what their roles and responsibilities would be. You should also help a candidate contact you easily by integrating a short and mobile-friendly form.

This is where HR tools like CakeHR can help. It lets you create unique landing pages to promote job openings, provides interview scheduling features, and helps you visualize your pipeline management. It also provides numerous analytics features that let you track your recruitment efforts and help you make more informed decisions.

#3 Finding the top talent in the industry

The importance of creating a recruitment marketing strategy notwithstanding, you still need to reach out to the demographic and find the ideal future employees. Nowadays, people with disabilities are registering with disability employment services to receive the necessary training and guidance in discovering their ideal career paths, as well as connecting with the right employers. You can leverage these service providers to connect with the right potential employees for a specific role in your company and get to know the individual ahead of the interview.

Apart from disability employment platforms, candidates with disabilities use the same job search platforms as the rest of your potential candidates. This is why you need to invest in building a solid, multi-channel recruitment strategy:

Harness the power of social networking

For starters, use social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to increase your brand awareness and position yourself as an authoritative player in your industry. This is where you should answer your audiences’ questions, share your valuable content, and build a solid online community. Use these channels to emphasize your company’s mission and values and emphasize why it may be the right choice for people with disabilities.

Instagram is a perfect option for integrating storytelling into your recruiting practices. If you’ve already hired an employee with a disability, make them heard. Share their photo along with their testimonials and their story to humanize your brand and build trust with your future candidates with disabilities.

LinkedIn, of course, remains the backbone of your social recruitment strategy. Research says that 20.000 businesses in the U.S. are already using this platform to connect with prospective candidates. This professional social network provides multiple advanced search and filtering options, letting you target the right candidates.

Take advantage of job fairs and similar events

Job fairs provide companies to put themselves in front of a larger number of job seekers effectively. You could either participate in such events or even organize them yourself. If you’re a smaller company with a limited budget, then even open-house events may work for you.

No matter what kind of event you choose, always make sure you prepare the right materials and resources for people with disabilities that would provide them with all important information about your company and its diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as encourage them to apply for a job at your company.

Use employee referral programs

Even though they’re often an underestimated recruitment method, employee referral programs can help you reduce your turnover rates, build trust with your candidates, and minimize the cost per hire. The idea behind that is simple – inspire your existing employees to give their friends and family members who are living with a disability a chance to prove themselves in the interview.

To increase the effectiveness of this practice, consider rewarding your employees for referrals. For example, Intel gives referral bonuses to their staff. Salesforce hosts Recruitment Happy Hours, when employees can invite their friends or family members they would like to refer.

#4 Prepare for the interview people with disabilities

Without a doubt, you need to prepare for the interview by researching the disability your potential employee has disclosed, and also ask if there is any way you can adjust and adapt the process to their needs. Among the many steps you will need to take into consideration, think about the simple questions such as the accessibility of your offices and building, whether or not they require specialized support staff to accompany them to the interview, and if you can do anything to make the experience enjoyable and stress-free, yet professional and productive.

Be sure to research the emerging technologies as well that might help you create a more efficient and effective hiring process. Technologies such as VR and AR, the cloud, and various automation tools can help you optimize and streamline the entire hiring journey, as well as expedite the interview itself without sacrificing the quality of the process.

#5 Keep an open mind and focus on value

When hiring people with disabilities, it becomes important to embrace a more open mindset and look beyond the disability in order to identify the key traits and strengths of the individual that can help push your company forward as a whole. The emphasis here is on the long-term value that the employee brings to the company, and not just in terms of revenue. You’ll need to consider the numerous ways your company can prosper with the help of this individual.

People with disabilities are reliable employees and have an overall higher job retention rate

Take into account their ability to create a more diverse workforce, to elevate your company’s culture to a whole new level, to boost your brand’s image in the eyes of your customers, and of course, how their own passion can drive office productivity. If revenue is your primary concern, though, your business will be able to qualify for tax breaks, which means increased financial savings in the long run.

#6 Make workplace diversity and inclusion a long-term recruitment strategy

People with disabilities make hard workers and devoted brand members, but that’s just scratching the surface of why this talent pool should be the focus of your recruitment campaign.

With the help of these tactics, you will attract the top industry talent and build relationships with them across multiple channels. Most importantly, this is an opportunity for you to strengthen your overall approach to workplace inclusion and diversity practices.

By building a diverse company culture, based on mutual appreciation and diversity, you will not only attract highly qualified candidates with disabilities, but also make them fall in love with their new job and retain them.

How do you attract candidates with disabilities? Is there anything you’d like to add? We’d like to hear from you!

Jacob Wilson is a business consultant, and an organizational psychologist, based in Brisbane. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Bizzmark blog.

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CakeHR is an award-winning HR software company that provides attendance, performance and recruitment management for customers worldwide. More information at www.cake.hr

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