Recruiting Candidates With Disabilities

There are many reasons that employers might want to recruit individuals with disabilities:

  • Diversity: Some businesses are looking for diverse characteristics in their workforce, and consider individuals with disabilities part of a broader definition of diversity that may include criteria such as race, gender, or ethnic identity.
  • Unique Expertise: Many employers believe that individuals with disabilities have unique expertise that can be applied in a work setting.
  • Innovation: Many people with disabilities are required to engage in creative problem solving on a daily basis. In a work setting, such resourcefulness can translate into innovative thinking and creative solutions to problems.
  • Attracting Business: Many American consumers say they prefer to support businesses that hire people with disabilities. Further, customers with disabilities often do business with companies that best meet their needs and reflect their values.

At the University of Washington, students self-identify disabilities in large part by seeking out services from Disability Resource Services (DRS). During 2015-2016:

  • 2093 students worked with Disability Resources for Students (DRS)
    • 483 graduate students/1610 undergraduate students
    • GPA averages: 3.12 undergrads and 3.63 for graduate/professional
  • DRS worked with student across all UW Academic Colleges, including:
    • Arts & Sciences: 1220
    • Engineering: 181
    • Foster Business School: 100
    • Environment: 81
    • School of Medicine: 89
    • School of Public Health: 80
    • Interdisciplinary: 67
    • School of Social Work: 52

University of Washington-based projects and resources for recruiters interested in candidates with disabilities include the following:

Engagement opportunities: While not specific to candidates with disabilities, we offer recruiters a variety of recruiting events and opportunities to connect with our candidates from all backgrounds and profiles, including our On-Campus Interview program, Career Fairs and our online recruitment platform, Handshake. Information on the various engagement opportunities for employers can be found at http://careers.uw.edu/employers/ or by reaching out to Associate Director for Employer Relations, Emma O’Neill-Myers: econeill@uw.edu .

Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP): The University of Washington participates enthusiastically in the WRP, a recruitment and referral program that connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with highly motivated college students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplace through summer or permanent jobs.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Diversity Management & Equal Opportunity (ODMEO) manage the program. Annually, trained WRP recruiters from federal agencies conduct personal interviews with interested candidates on college and university campuses across the country- including a strong candidate pool at the University of Washington. Information from these candidate interviews is compiled in a searchable database that is available to both public- and private-sector hiring officials. Additional information can be found at https://wrp.gov/LoginPre.do?method=login.

Opportunities Newsletter for UW Students with Disabilities: This newsletter is delivered twice each academic year to about 1,000 UW students with disabilities. It announces opportunities for students to apply for internships and scholarships, access community and campus resources, engage in research, and attend local job fairs. Recruiters who wish to submit announcements to the newsletter are encouraged to contact Scott Bellman, DO-IT Project Manager, at swb3@uw.edu. The most recent version can be found online at: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Stem/Opp/uw.pdf.

UW’s AccessSTEM Careers: Through this project, funded by the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (www.meaf.org/), employers engage with STEM students with disabilities regarding career development, internships, and labor market trends. Employers have access to student resumes and participate in workshops for students and job seekers with disabilities. The project is lead by the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) Center (www.uw.edu/doit). More information about AccessSTEM Careers can be found at: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Programs/stem-careers.html.

UW’s Alliance for Access to Computing Careers: This National Science Foundation-funded project helps students with disabilities successfully pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in computing fields, and helps students find internships and jobs in computing fields. The project is lead by the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) Center (www.uw.edu/doit). More information about the Alliance for Access to Computing Careers can be found at: http://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/.

More Information

Additional information about the employment of individuals with disabilities can be found at the DO-IT Knowledge Base (http://www.washington.edu/doit/about.html), a growing collection of hundreds of articles related to employment, accommodations, technology, college, and careers for individuals with disabilities. Examples of articles in the Knowledge Base include:

What are best practices for recruiting students with disabilities?

Are there tax incentives for hiring people with disabilities?

Can an employer legally ask an applicant about current illnesses?

How does an employer interview a person with a disability?

Is there a policy to allow federal employers more flexibility when they hire job candidates with disabilities?

What is Veterans’ Preference for federal jobs?

Why should a company hire a person with a disability?