Resources for Persons with Disabilities for Finding Employment
Inspired by National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we intend to highlight in this post several resources available to anyone with a disability that they can use to locate employment. While a few of them are local or regional in scope, most are available to anyone in the United States. Some of the listed agencies offer tips for finding employment; others offer job boards, job listings, and career fairs. Note that we are not including vocational rehabilitation services or offices for the blind as these vary by state.
There also may be other local resources that you may obtain; check with the appropriate personnel in your state or region. For the sake of clarity, we placed these resources into what we are calling “restricted” and “unrestricted” resources. We use the term restricted to indicate either that the resource has a limited scope, i.e., its services are only available to people in a particular area of the country, or the resource is only available to people with an active case with their vocational rehabilitation office.
Equal Opportunity Publications Career Expos
Equal Opportunity Publications (EOP), sponsors career expos throughout the year. At these expos, individuals with disabilities can meet with prospective employers and discuss job possibilities. Unfortunately, these expos happen only in selected cities like Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. However, the site also hosts an online job board that is national in scope. You can search for positions throughout the country or view their featured jobs.
Additionally, the site mentions several magazines published by the organization including Careers and the Disabled Magazine. The site describes itself by saying, “Since 1968, Equal Opportunity Publications, Inc. (EOP) has led the way in diversity recruitment with a portfolio of seven national career magazines, a diversity website, online job board, and Career Expos for women, members of minority groups, and people with disabilities. Check out their site at http://www.eop.com/index.php. You may "like" them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
Talent Acquisition Portal
“The Talent Acquisition Portal® (TAP) is an online system which includes a national talent pool of individuals with disabilities looking for employment and a job posting system for businesses looking to hire.”
TAP provides businesses with pre-employment and disability awareness training. The one thing to keep in mind is that TAP is linked to vocational rehabilitation services; it appears that a person must have an open case to use TAP. The TAP site notes that when viewing resumes, recruiters have “a direct link to the local VR office of the candidate” and that office’s team member. Thus, one can only use the service if he or she has an open case with a state vocational rehabilitation office or an office for the Blind. Find out more about TAP at their website, "Like" them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, or follow them on LinkedIn.
“GettingHired.com is an employment resource specifically for individuals and veterans with disabilities. Facing an unemployment rate that is almost twice the national average, GettingHired seeks to improve employment opportunities for those individuals by connecting them to inclusive employers who are actively looking to diversify their workforce.”
As part of a direct communication with someone from the site, we received the following information:
We are America’s largest online career community for individuals with disabilities. We are a free employment resource and job seekers with disabilities can search for open jobs on our fully accessible website, listing over 100K jobs nationwide: across all industries & experience levels. The 180+ companies that work with us are actively seeking to hire more individuals with a disability and include many Fortune 500 employers such as IBM, Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, Disney, MetLife, General Motors & many more.
GettingHired assists persons with disabilities seeking employment in several ways. It offers a number of free 30-60-minute webinar presentations on various topics related to gaining employment. If you create a job seeker account at this link, you can be updated whenever a new webinar is posted. Webinars are presented once each month and are archived on the site. Creating a job seeker account also is how you begin searching for open positions.
GettingHired also offers online job fairs. These career expos allow job seekers to interact with employers online without having to leave one’s home. They also produce their Getting Hired Career Insights Blog with additional job seeking information. Visit their homepage at http://www.gettinghired.com. You may connect with them via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.
CareerConnect, a site administered by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), connects job seekers who are blind and visually impaired with mentors who can teach and advise them on any number of subjects. Individuals must register and create an account to take advantage of this feature. Besides contacting mentors, job seekers can utilize tools for writing and improving resumes, developing better interviewing skills, and use other portions of the job seeker toolkit to determine what type of jobs might be best for them. There are exercises available for assessing one’s skills and abilities and plenty of material to read about becoming a more confident and qualified applicant. Although CareerConnect does not offer job boards, its mentoring option is tremendously helpful. Any person who is blind and visually impaired may sign up to mentor others; at the same time, this service is available to anyone who wishes to take advantage of it. If you are trying to determine what kind of work you want to do or if you are looking to change careers, you may benefit from this service; if you are succesfuly employed, you can choose to help others achieve their goals. Read more about CareerConnect at http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/for-job-seekers/12
Disability Job Exchange
This is another site which seeks to assist both people with disabilities and veterans with finding employment. They host virtual career fairs, some of which are aimed more at veterans. They also offer a national online job database and a listing of companies who work with them. Unfortunately, when navigating the list with a screen reader, the list appears to be images with no alt text descriptions so one would have to click on each link to see the company’s name. Nevertheless, despite this one accessibility concern, the site lists many companies that it works with and offers a detailed search functionality. See their site by navigating to http://www.disabilityjobexchange.com/. They are available on social media also. Visit them on Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube
Think Beyond the Label
Think Beyond the Label (TBTL), is another site looking to connect employers and job seekers with disabilities. They maintain a job board which is unique because it lists employers that are actively recruiting candidates at the top of the board. TBTL also offers success stories of people with disabilities who are working, interview tips, resume assistance, tips on appropriate attire for interviews, and information on exactly how companies recruit people with disabilities. All of this information is readily available on their site for job seekers http://thinkbeyondthelabel.com/job-seekers. Find them on Facebook and Twitter, join their LinkedIn group, or subscribe to their YouTube channel.
“We are the Leading Website dedicated to employment of people with disabilities. We are also the largest resume bank with tens of thousands of job seekers with disabilities, from entry level candidates to PhD. If your company is looking for talent, you have come to the right place.” This is abilityJOBS’s description of its site.
The job board is easy to locate, and the site has dedicated pages for job seekers and employers. The site shows some featured jobs on its homepage as well as news articles concerning disability issues. It also provides a link for receiving ABILITY Magazine, which it produces, and their one obvious social media offering, the Facebook feed for ABILITY Magazine, is also found on the homepage. Find abilityJOBS at http://abilityjobs.com/.
AbilityLinks, based in Illinois, recently held an online job fair in recognition of NDEAM. The site notes that 60% of its users are from the Chicago area, and 40% are from areas throughout the nation. The site says the following about what it does:
AbilityLinks is a nationwide, web-based community where qualified job seekers with disabilities and inclusive employers meet and gain access to valuable networking opportunities.
Job seekers who want to connect to employers by voluntarily self-identifying having a disability use AbilityLinks to post resumes and apply for jobs. No information about disability type is asked.
AbilityLinks Information and Referral Counselors, that have a disability, provide a caring human touch.
AbilityLinks states that at least 600 users have reported finding employment through the site. One unique feature offered by AbilityLinks is a personalized job counseling session with one of their consultants. A consultant may help to provide a job seeker with direction and guidance in many areas. For more information contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 630/909-7440.
Bender Consulting Services
Bender Consulting Services is focused on employment of persons with disabilities, but they focus both on public and private sector jobs as they note in the description of their services:
At Bender Consulting Services, Inc. our mission is to recruit and hire people with disabilities for competitive career opportunities in the public and private sectors.
As the economy is continuing its recovery, and employment numbers are increasing, an overwhelming 13 million Americans with disabilities remain unemployed. Since 1995, Bender Consulting Services has worked to solve these critical social and business issues by providing employers with reliable talent, and giving well-trained individuals with disabilities the chance to display their abilities and enhance their lives through solid careers. To date, Bender Consulting Services has placed individuals with disabilities in major organizations such as CSC, Highmark, Bayer Corporation, Anthem, Inc. and many federal agencies. These individuals have expertise in information technology, finance/accounting, engineering, human resources, mathematics, biology and other professional areas.
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Bender Consulting Services also has a strong presence across the United States and in Canada through its sister company, Bender Consulting Services of Canada.
Bender Consulting Services partners with CareerEco several times a year to host their own virtual career fairs. Similar in format to the virtual career fairs offered by other listed sites, these job fairs require a job seeker to log into a special platform where the job seeker chats with the employer. Since the job seeker uploads a resume before the event, the employer knows at least something about the candidate most of the time. Usually the list of available employers appears on the site before the career fair so job seekers can select which companies they wish to talk to and hone their search.
Virtual career fairs, however, are only a small part of Bender’s many services. They gather resumes and interview potential candidates for positions and attempt to match prospective candidates with potential employers. Often available positions are full-time though some are 12-month positions. These short-term positions are best for individuals just starting out in the workforce, perhaps individuals nearing the completion of their post-secondary education.
Bender also maintains a database of individuals seeking federal government employment, collects resumes, and offers a list to interested agencies. The agency, having viewed the list of candidates, contacts individuals it wishes to interview. A completed resume and a Schedule A letter is required to join this database.
Bender’s application process is lengthy and detailed, requiring more than one interview with a potential candidate. They strive to fit individuals seeking employment with a job that is well-suited to their qualifications. In addition, Bender’s site is quite extensive; we have only mentioned a few of the highlights here. They offer many other programs and information about employing people with disabilities; begin exploring what Bender has to offer by visiting http://www.benderconsult.com/. Read their blog, Chick out their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn and subscribe to their YouTube channel.
Searching for a job can be overwhelming; finding specialized resources for conducting a job search, especially as a person with a disability, can add to the challenge. Nevertheless, we have gathered these resources with the belief that you, yourself, may benefit from utilizing them or that you may share them with someone who may benefit from them. Although many of the sites are similar as far as what they do, each site probably has relationships with different companies and organizations. Therefore, the more sites you use, the more likely it is that you will find suitable employment. Please remember that we have not included state rehabilitation services, college career services, mainstream employment websites, or specific city, state or federal government sites that assist people in finding jobs since those will vary depending upon your location. We wish you well with your search for new or more appropriate employment. If you find a job through one of these sites, let them know, of course, and share your success with us.