Candidates with Disabilities Are Reluctant to Disclose

Candidates with Disabilities are Reluctant to Disclose

Only 55% of candidates with disabilities disclose their disability prior to receiving a job offer, according to a survey GettingHired conducted of 328 job seekers with disabilities in late 2013. This poses a problem to employers actively focused on hiring and retaining workers with disabilities. If employers do not know candidates are disabled, how can they measure their progress?

The Numbers

When do candidates with disabilities disclose their disability?

When they apply


When invited to an interview


When interviewed


After the interview, but before an offer


Never disclose


Candidates whose disability is somewhat or very visible are much more likely to disclose than those with non-apparent disabilities. Eighty three percent of job seekers with a very apparent disability disclose prior to receiving an offer versus forty three percent of candidates with a disability that is not apparent.


Only twenty two percent disclose their disability when applying. This indicates that many candidates think they will improve their chances of being selected to interview if they wait to disclose. The survey results show that fifty seven percent of candidates with a very apparent disability disclose when invited to interview or during the interview further validates this theory.

Additionally, candidates think disclosing their disability at all will negatively impact their ability to secure a job. Sixty-nine percent agree that it is easier to find work if you do not disclose your disability and only nine percent say their disability has helped them to get a job. While fifty seven percent of candidates with a very apparent disability disclose when invited to interview or during the interview, only twenty three percent of candidates with a non-apparent disability disclose at these stages. It would seem that candidates wait until absolutely necessary to disclose their disability because they want to avoid being discriminated against.

The Impact and How to Improve

Employers with disability hiring and retention goals will have a harder time achieving these goals when they do not know if candidates and current employees have a disability. Section 503 requires federal contractors and sub-contractors to invite applicants to voluntarily self-identify as an individual with a disability or a protected veteran during the pre and post offer stages of the hiring process. However, employers must demonstrate how disclosing a disability could help candidates secure a job. At a minimum, employers should showcase disability hiring programs and resulting success stories.

Not only should employers make their workplaces more disability friendly and accessible, they should also work with their employees to provide a more inclusive environment. Forty-one percent of candidates with disabilities say the disability inclusiveness/friendliness of the employer overall is most important to their decision to disclose. Today, only forty six percent of candidates with disabilities currently feel welcomed by potential employers. It will take some time and energy to close the gap, and may not be as easy as following simple instructions. However, employers that invest in training their employees and adjusting their marketing to highlight their efforts towards accommodating all types of employees should start to reap the rewards of increased disclosure soon.