3 Tips for recruiting college students with disabilities

Organizations with an eye for the future should always be on the lookout for the best graduates who can help to build their employer brand and expand their business in the years ahead.

This means developing engagement programs that reach out to young people from all backgrounds and college students with disabilities are a key demographic that should not be overlooked.

1. Understanding the college students with disabilities demographic

Figures show that one in five Americans have a disability – making this the largest and most diverse minority group in the United States.

As for students, one in nine post-secondary undergraduate students has a disability, and among veterans attending post-secondary schools, one in five has a disability. This therefore represents a considerable untapped resource for businesses at present, and recognizing the importance of successful engagement with this group is something that businesses cannot afford to fail in.

2. Attract your culturally-fit talent through inclusive messaging and a strong disability brand

Ensuring that a message of inclusivity is included in the messaging of all recruitment outreach is essential for success when targeting college students with disabilities.

When a business is positioning itself as an inclusive employer of choice, there are a number of actions that can help them to succeed:

· Provide clear job descriptions and core functions of the role. Job descriptions often include jargon that makes it difficult for the job seeker to understand what the core functions are. A clear description helps the job seeker to determine any need for a reasonable accommodation, and more accurately evaluate their qualifications.

· Educate recruiters and hiring managers on basic disability etiquette. A recruiter’s attitude and behavior represent the company culture to potential applicants, and plays a major role in how ‘disability-friendly’ the company comes across.

· Highlight opportunities for career progression and growth. According to Getting Hired’s 2016 Quarterly Survey, “career growth opportunities” was the selected as the most important item to see when considering applying to a company or job (66 percent).

· Publicize community involvement and social responsibility. Showcasing the organization’s efforts to support the disability community is always a good idea to strengthen its disability brand, and therefore attractiveness to students and job seekers with disabilities. Efforts such as donating a portion of annual profits to charitable causes or getting involved in voluntary work in the community, all demonstrate an ongoing commitment to inclusive hiring.

· Work with college and university career centers and disability support services. An increasing number of colleges and universities are implementing inclusive internship and mentoring programs with employers. Partnering with both on-campus centers will help to ensure that students with disabilities have awareness of opportunities with your organization.

· Partner with disability experts. Getting Hired provides consultative advice on disability inclusion to its employer members, and a connection to highly qualified talent. Getting Hired’s Voice of the Job Seeker Survey 2015 showed that more than half (54 percent) of its job seekers with disabilities hold either a Bachelor’s or Advanced degree, as compared to only 14 percent of all Americans with disabilities with the same level of education.

3. Tailoring the application process to meet individual needs

One of the most important areas of inclusivity in the recruitment process is companies’ attention to tailoring the application and interview process for individuals with disabilities.

According to the findings from the Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) 2015 eRecruiting & Accessibility Report, almost half (46 percent) of all job applicants with disabilities surveyed, rated their last experience of applying for a job online as "difficult to impossible."

With this in mind, PEAT revealed the most common digital accessibility issues faced by applicants, such as lack of video captioning, timeout restrictions, inaccessible form fields and mouse-only interfaces - all issues that may cause problems for individuals with disabilities.

To ensure your business is as inclusive as possible, employers can review more information on website accessibility here:

· Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

· The A11Y Project

· Section 255 of the Communications Act 21st Century

Getting Hired offers companies a proven solution for providing an accessible application process, and provides the necessary resources for you organization to improve its accessibility and university recruitment efforts. Contact our team today to learn more!