Recruitment: let’s start at the very beginning

As organisations cautiously begin to think about recruiting, once again our attention turns towards how we best market our career opportunities.

Recruiters have constantly been challenged about who they recruit into their organisations. Not just the caliber of talent that is recruited, but also the diversity. Focus seems to have concentrated on issues such as attracting more women, and black and Asian people into the senior roles, or into industry sectors such as banking. Recruiters have risen to these challenges leading to measureable progress being made.

The current challenge facing organisations is attracting and recruiting more disabled individuals. Whilst there is good intent to make progress in this area achieving results continues to be slow.

So why is this? Why are organisations finding it so difficult to attract and recruit disabled individuals and what do they need to do to make a real step change?

There are many reasons why organisations find making progress in this area difficult however the overriding one is that organisations don’t know where to start. Rather than spend time working out a robust strategy a scatter gun approach is adopted with the hope of achieving some quick wins. Approaches include advertising in the disability press, involving disability organisations, sponsoring events, and thinking the presence of the ‘two tick’ symbol will make all the difference.

Not surprisingly, none of these are effective. Disabled individuals look for jobs in the same way as their non-disabled peers; they don’t use the disability press to find a job. Similarly many disabled job seekers don’t want to use a specialist disability organisation; they want to apply to employers directly.

However it’s not actually hard to make progress in this area. At the risk of over simplifying it, let’s start at the very beginning….

If the aim is to increase the number of disabled individuals who successfully gain employment with you, you have to increase the numbers who apply to you. To increase the numbers who apply to you you have to increase the numbers you engage with. Put simply, it’s a numbers game. Just like the rest of recruitment.

To make the engagement piece work for you there are 3 key areas to focus:

Know your target market

If you wish to proactively tap into the large talent pool of disabled individuals you need to really understand the market. You need to know how they go about looking for their jobs. You also need to understand what is important to them and ensure your marketing messages are relevant. Once you know more about your market you can refine your activities to ensure they are effective.

Understand the issues

Having a disability can affect a number of the factors that employers consider when progressing someone through their graduate recruitment process. Factors affected may include: educational qualifications, choice of university, ability to gain relevant work experience. Whilst you are not expected to lower your standards when recruiting disabled individuals you may need to take into account factors that you wouldn’t normally allow for.
You don’t need to be an expert in the area of disability. However having a basic level of understanding of some of the issues will enable you to better engage with this group of people.

Engage with your audience

Arguably, the most crucial element to get right is how you engage with your audience. If you don’t positively engage with disabled individuals they won’t apply to work for you. As organisations increasingly rely on web based marketing it is imperative to ensure that they the marketing messages are relevant to disabled individuals. Your web site is an important source of information for all individuals considering applying to you. Disabled individuals are not only interested in the role but also they need to know about the support their organisation can offer both during the recruitment process and once someone has joined the company. 

First impressions are paramount. If you get it wrong, the consequences are hard to fix. Get it right, and you will achieve the desired results.

Engaging with disabled individuals isn’t difficult. It does not require additional resource or separate activities. What it requires is for organisations to understand this target market and to take a planned approach to engaging with them. It also requires you to ensure that the people who are tasked with engaging with disabled individuals are equipped and confident to do so. By addressing the basics at the beginning, the desired results will follow.