Job seekers with disabilities have it tough. Only 21 percent of disabled working-age Americans had a job in the past year – that’s compared to 59 percent of non-disabled Americans. Here are some tips to help job seekers with disabilities find meaningful work.
1. Use your state employment agency. Every state in the U.S. and Puerto Rico has a vocational rehabilitation agency that holds a list of job openings and can help you get interviews. Agencies often partner with certain companies that want to hire this group. They can provide job training and even pay for assistive technologies that help you perform your job. To find your state agency and other resources go to Think Beyond the Label, a campaign funded by more than 30 states that’s designed to get businesses to hire people with disabilities.
2. Surf disability specific job boards. Private sector job boards have listings from companies that are dedicated to hiring people with disabilities. These include GettingHired.com, which also offers a social networking portal to help job seekers connect with mentors and each other, RecruitDisability.com, which is run by national disability recruiter The Sierra Group, Hire Disability Solutions and Disaboom Jobs.
3. Consider a public sector job. The federal government has stepped up efforts to help the disabled find jobs. President Obama has called for 100,000 people with disabilities to be hired in the federal workforce in five years, and now requires federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative action and open employment to people with a disability including disabled veterans. Consider a federal job or a job with a company that does business with the government. The federal Office of Personnel Management has job listings.
4. Attend a teleseminar. The Sierra Group offers online courses that are free to job seekers and veterans with disabilities through its nonprofit foundation, One More Way. Recent topics have included accommodating mental health in the workplace and finding assistive technologies that are right for you.
5. Choose companies wisely. Each year DiversityInc. compiles a list of the top 10 companies for people with disabilities. Although the companies pay to participate in the rankings, they do exemplify hiring practices for the disability population through disability-focused recruiting and fostering disability employee network groups. The National Business and Disability Council, which counts more than Fortune 500 and other companies as its members, has a job database. If you have a disability and there’s a job you think you’re qualified for, you should contact the hiring manager at the company and ask if you can come in for an interview.