By Jim Hasse
As a jobseeker with a disability,
how do you position yourself with the employers you are targeting in your job
marketing campaign? You may find some interesting ideas in the results of a
recent survey which involved the perceptions of job development professionals.
In August 2011, TransCen,
a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 that develops, implements and
researches initiatives that have national impact on the issue of employment for
people with disabilities, reported findings to the John J. Heldrich Center for
Workforce Development at Rutgers University on the attitudes and beliefs of
job development professionals toward employers and the employment process. The report is part of the New Jersey DiscoverAbility
project, a Comprehensive Employment Services Medicaid Infrastructure Grant
funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services to the New Jersey Department of Human Services
and its management partner, the Heldrich
Center. For more on DiscoverAbility NJ, check out www.discoverabilitynj.org, and for
the full report, see How
Job Developers See Employers.
The study's sponsors sought to
examine how those beliefs tend to shape the job development and placement
practices of the New Jersey and Maryland professionals involved in a set of six
two-hour focus groups (36 participants) and a web-based survey (260
The majority of the respondents (80 percent) to the
web-based survey were employed in community rehabilitation programs, providing
services to a diverse population of people with physical, mental and emotional
Most of the respondents were female (74 percent), and
the majority had at least a BA degree (61 percent). Almost 34 percent of the
respondents had 10 or more years of experience in job development.
I found what the job development professionals
participants said about employers quite interesting -- although that was not
the primary focus of the study.
For instance, consider these nine snippets I've
chosen to highlight from the overall results. Here's how the job development
professionals in the survey responded. Those results give me glues for building
my "getting hired" strategy and convincing my targeted employers to hire me.
percent of the respondents agreed with this statement: "Employers with a
history of hiring people with disabilities are more likely to hire my
That tells me that targeting employers with proven track records of
attracting, hiring and promoting people with disabilities should be one of
my primary strategies.
percent agreed that "employers base hiring decisions on the bottom line."
81 percents of respondents with five or more years of experience agreed
with this statement compared to 65 percent for those with less than five
Said one respondent, "Employers who base hiring decisions on the ‘bottom
line' might just not believe in the work capacity of people with
As a jobseeker, that would prompt me to look at my past accomplishments,
identify my skills and attributes which made those situations successful
and then put what I had achieved into bottom-line, quantifiable results.
percent agreed that "employers are more likely to hire people with
disabilities if they have entry-level positions."
If I were just getting out of school, I would not hesitate to take an
entry-level job (no matter how menial it may appear to be), if my research
shows the company and its particular field have good long-term prospects.
Getting in on the ground floor of a company which
is likely to grow rapidly is a golden opportunity.
percent agreed that "employers need to be sold on hiring people with
disabilities." 75 percents of respondents with five or more years of
experience agreed with this statement compared to 67 percent for those
with less than five years experience.
I would hone my "bottom-line" success stories and use them as the
foundation for my job marketing campaign -- and practice telling them in a
concise way during job interviews.
percent agreed with this statement: "Employers prefer to know in advance
if an applicant has a disability."
My "bottom-line" success stories would show how learning how to live well
with my particular disability has helped me develop the skills and
attributes that were vital in achieving those accomplishments.
percent agreed with this sentence: "Employers are less likely to hire
people with disabilities in the current economy." 80 percents of
respondents with five or more years of experience agreed with this
statement compared to 58 percent for those with less than five years
One respondent said, "I think a major barrier is the economy right now.
Years ago, our clients wanted an entry-level job nobody wanted. Now, we
are fighting to get these jobs."
I would evaluate my field of study for future career prospects and commit
myself to lifelong learning in a job sector where job demand outstrips
supply of qualified candidates.
percent agreed that "employers are reluctant to hire people with
disabilities due to the perceived costs involved."
Part of my "sales pitch" as a jobseeker would be to talk about any
accommodations I may need, the costs involved and how I could help
minimize the time, work and costs of getting me up to speed as a new hire.
percent agreed that "employers are likely to hire clients for volunteer
I would volunteer, offer to work for free for the opportunity to show what
I could do or take an internship without pay -- anything to get my foot in
the door of the right company and make myself the exception to the common
occurrence of "being the last to be hired."
percent agreed that "employers with off-site HR mangers are less likely to
hire people with disabilities."
Unless I had an entrepreneurial spirit (and perhaps knew some buddies from
college who were involved in start-up companies where I could also spread
my wings), I would target companies with well-established HR and diversity
programs (backed by third-party endorsements).
I would build my job search strategies around these nine
findings. Which of these research results interest you the most?
Copyright © 2012. Hasse Communication Counseling. All rights reserved.
Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF, (www.jimhasse.com) has compiled and edited the recommendations of HR experts and the personal observations of both job seekers and hiring managers into Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities (www.perfectlyable.com), a comprehensive disability recruitment guidebook for hiring managers published by AMACOM (September 2010), the publishing arm of the American Management Association. Lighthouse International (www.lighthouse.org), New York City, is the author of the 272-page hard-cover book, which continues to evolve online on Hasse's forum, Timely Tips for Retaining Employee Talent (forum.perfectlyable.com). Jim is founder of www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com, the comprehensive career coaching guide for parenting youngsters seven to 27 years old who have cerebral palsy.