By Suzanne Robitaille
- UPDATED -
This morning I received a call from Kathleen Lee, who works in Human Resources at Earnworks, which is housed at Cornell University’s Institute of Labor Relations. Lee called in response to my submission last night looking for an intern for abledbody.com. I had been unsure about whether anyone was going to get back to me, and was thrilled to hear from Earnworks so quickly. Lee asked me a few questions about my needs for an online publishing intern, and says she is going to look into students and recent grads at Connecticut-area schools to see if there’s a match.
Lee’s source is the Department of Labors’ newly launched database of more than 2,500 college and entry-level students with disabilities, which is part of the government’s efforts to increase federal and private-sector initiatives to source and hire workers with disabilities. The program supports President Obama’s executive order that aims to employ 100,000 people with disabilities in five years in the federal sector.
“There’s never been a better time to try to hire a person with a disability,” Lee says, saying there are jobs open across the federal sector and with private employers who are “eager” to hire from this group.
Candidates listed in the database represent all academic backgrounds, and all are working toward, or have recently earned, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and law degrees. Students have been interviewed by recruiters from various federal agencies. Some seek summer employment, while others are looking for regular, full-time positions.
“This database is filled with talented students who are highly motivated to prove their skills in the workplace,” says Kathy Martinez, the Assistant Secretary to the Department of Labor who heads the Office of Disability Employment Policy.
It’s easy for federal officials to identify candidates. They can visit http://www.wrp.gov to register and search independently for job seekers who meet their hiring needs. They also can track the status of candidates they are interested in interviewing, including whether they already have been hired.
Private-sector employers have to take a few extra steps to find candidates. They can fill out an online form at ODEP’s Employer Assistance & Resource Network (EARN) website, call 866-EARN-HOW Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Eastern, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Earnworks offers free consulting services for businesses and organizations that seek to hire this group. (Earnworks’ Lee got back to me in less than 24 hours with a phone call about my needs.)
The Earnworks website also has other useful resources such as the business case for hiring people with disabilities, including veterans with service-connected disabilities. Job seekers can take a peek at Earnwork’s list of disability-focused employment websites that include Disaboom Jobs, GettingHired.com, HireDisabilitySolutions, National Business Disability Council, AbilityLinks, One More Way, RecruitAbility and Federal Employment of People with Disabilities. Some of these companies let job seekers register and upload their resume for free, but charge employers a fee to access candidates.
Interestingly, there’s also a link to Craigslist, the online classifieds site. The instructions say to choose your city, then type “highlight for persons with disabilities” in the empty box located below “Search Craigslist.” Then select “jobs” in the drop-down box below, and click to search. (I tried this in the New York City area and found a number of entry-level jobs such as remote call service center reps paying $11 to $14 an hour and outside sales type jobs at financial services companies.) It’s not clear whether these companies are targeting people with disabilities.
All in all, if you’re a federal agency, this is a great avenue to find entry level workers. For private sector employers, it takes a couple of extra steps but Earnworks will respond to you. Earnworks’ value lies in their free candidate sourcing for employers, as opposed to working with recruiting firms that charge a finder’s fee. However, the DOL’s database does not include mid- and senior- level candidates, so if you’re looking for more qualified persons you’ll need to conduct your search elsewhere, such as with the companies mentioned above.
Hopefully I’ll find an intern, soon, and will tell everyone I know about this service.