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Attracting Disabled Graduates

Graduate Recruiter’s Breakfast Seminar 10 (BS’10)
Hosted by Herbert Smith Freehills

A minor disruption in the form of a tube strike was not enough to stop members of the Graduate Recruiters Disability Café Club (GRDCC) turning up for the tenth Breakfast Seminar. Responding to the on going question of how to attract disabled students to apply for opportunities, the focus was on marketing messages.  However rather than simply focusing on what the key messages are that recruiters need to be putting out there, it also looked at how to ensure those messages reach the relevant people.

Helen Cooke, Director of My Plus Consulting, started by remind the delegates of the key messages that disabled students need to hear. These are:

  • The value of diversity, and specifically disability, to your organisation.
  • That you are a disability confident organisation.
  • You already employ disabled colleagues.
  • That they are very much wanted.
  • That you can provide support during the recruitment process, and once they have joined.
  • The benefits of them being open about their disability.

The delegates then worked in small groups to discuss how they can most effectively ensure that these messages reach their target market i.e. disabled students. Helen asked them to consider the following 4 areas:

  • The company website.
  • Use of video.
  • University campuses.
  • Social media.

For each of these areas, the delegates were asked to consider the role that their employees could play in pushing the messages out.

A key theme that emerged was the use of profiles – not just of disabled employees, but also of partners and recruiters discussing the importance of disability to the firm and how disabled individuals are supported. Use of video to bring these alive was strongly advocated.

Many of the firms attending the seminar already use blogs to engage with students and the option to include blogs from those with a disability was given a big thumbs up!

Delegates also talked about the opportunity to better engage with university faculties and societies as well as the careers services and disability services. Use of twitter was also discussed with a focus on connecting with relevant groups such as Mind, Rethink, Great with Disability and the National Autistic Society.

The importance of firm representatives being able to talk confidently about the firm’s approach to disability and the support it offered was also discussed. As was the need to be more confident and open when talking about disability rather than treating it as an overly sensitive subject.

In closing Helen reminded the delegates that, when it came to attracting applicants from disabled students, there wasn’t just one single action that would lead to success. As with attracting any applicant, a number of different activities are required in order to market your organisation as an employer of choice.

Thank you to Herbert Smith Freehills who kindly stepped in to host this Breakfast Seminar at very late notice.