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Unlock the key issues: An introduction to disability & recruitment

Hosted by Motability Operations

As with anything new, getting started is always the biggest challenge. However, once you have a few pointers to get you started making progress becomes much easier and momentum builds.

This is certainly true when it comes to recruiting disabled students; those who are new to it often don’t know where to begin however once they take the first step they realise it isn’t as hard as they had initially thought.

The purpose of the ‘Introduction to Disability & Recruitment’ workshop was to provide an overview of some of the key areas that employers would need to focus on if they were to be successful in attracting disabled applicants and supporting them through the recruitment process.

As with previous workshops Helen Cooke, Director and Founder of MyPlus, started by reminding the delegates of what the term ‘disability’ includes – conditions such as Asperger’s’ Syndrome, dyslexia, cancer, anxiety, hearing or sight loss and speech impairments, to name but a few. Helen them moved on to focus on helping the delegates to have a greater understanding of this talent pool. As with any target group employers are wishing to engage with, they first must understand them and this is particularly true of candidates with disabilities. Employers need to understand the additional questions and concerns that candidates with disabilities may have which their non-disabled counter parts won’t have; until they have this understanding employers will struggle to tailor their marketing messages.

Having built a greater understanding of this target group, the delegates were then able to move on to consider how they would engage with them; how they could most effectively market themselves as disability confident employers who were inclusive of all talent, including those who had a disability or long- term health condition. Helen talked about the key messages that employers needed to market before challenging the delegates to think about how they could effectively get their messages across; leveraging university career and disability services, briefing campus ambassadors, providing role models and maximising their profile on were all identified as key opportunities.

Having worked out how to encourage students with disabilities to apply to their organisations, the delegates then had the opportunity to learn more about how to provide any support that was required and the conversations that needed to happen to ensure adjustments were put in place. Key was to engage in relevant conversations with the applicant and to have a robust adjustment process enabling support to be efficiently put in place.

The final part of the workshop was titled ‘Doing the right thing’. Many recruiters are fearful of seemingly ‘getting it wrong’ in terms of their language and behaviours and this was a relatively light-hearted consideration of some of these concerns including – is it okay to ask a person what their disability is? (no) Or can you ask during an interview whether they would be able to travel if the role required it (yes, if you ask everyone this).

By the end of the workshop, the delegates had gained insights into some of the key areas associated with attracting, recruiting and supporting disabled students through the recruitment process. As a result, they were able to go back and identify some ‘quick wins’ that would make a positive difference, as well as identify what else they needed to do in order to make real progress in this challenging area.