Labor Dept. Launches Database to Recruit Workers with Disabilities

By , December 21, 2010

The Department of Labor has launched a database of more than 2,200 college and entry-level students with disabilities as part of its efforts to increase federal and private sector initiatives to source and hire workers with disabilities. The program supports President Obama’s executive order that aims to employ 100,000 people with disabilities in five years in the federal sector.

“This database is filled with talented students who are highly motivated to prove their skills in the workplace,” says Kathy Martinez, the Assistant Secretary to the Department of Labor who heads the Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Candidates listed in the database represent all academic backgrounds, and all are working toward, or have recently earned, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and law degrees.  Students have been interviewed by recruiters from various federal agencies.  Some seek summer employment, while others are looking for regular, full-time positions.

It’s easy for federal officials to identify candidates. They can visit http://www.wrp.gov to register and search independently for job seekers who meet their hiring needs.  They also can track the status of candidates they are interested in interviewing, including whether they already have been hired.

Private-sector employers have to take a few extra steps to find candidates. They can fill out an online form at ODEP’s Employer Assistance & Resource Network (EARN) website, call 866-EARN-HOW Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm Eastern, or send an email to earn@earnworks.com. Earnworks offers free consulting services for businesses and organizations that seek to hire this group.

The Earnworks website also has other useful resources such as the business case for hiring people with disabilities, including veterans with service-connected disabilities.  Think Beyond the Label referenced this resource, among others, for its communications materials including The Field Guide to Evolving Your Workforce, which can be downloaded here.

Job seekers can take a peek at Earnwork’s list of disability-focused employment websites that include Disaboom Jobs, GettingHired.com, HireDisabilitySolutions, National Business Disability Council, AbilityLinks, One More Way, RecruitAbility and Federal Employment of People with Disabilities. Some of these companies let job seekers register and upload their resume for free, but charge employers a fee to access candidates.

Interestingly, there’s also a link to Craigslist, the online classifieds site. The instructions say to choose your city, then type “highlight for persons with disabilities” in the empty box located below “Search Craigslist.” Then select “jobs” in the drop-down box below, and click to search. (I tried this in the New York City area and found a number of entry-level jobs such as remote call service center reps paying $11 to $14 an hour and outside sales type jobs at financial services companies.) It’s not clear whether these companies are targeting people with disabilities.

All in all, if you’re a federal agency, this is a great avenue to find entry-level workers. For private sector employers, it takes a couple of extra steps, but Earnworks will respond to you, and usually within 24 hours (I tested this on my own,) Earnworks’ value lies in their free candidate sourcing for employers, as opposed to working with recruiting firms that charge a finder’s fee. However, the DOL’s database does not include mid- and senior- level candidates, so if you’re looking for more qualified persons you’ll need to conduct your search elsewhere, such as with the job boards mentioned above.

Employers of every kind, do check out this website; it’s another great avenue to find qualified candidates with disabilities today!

Author: Suzanne Robitaille

Suzanne Robitaille is the founder of abledbody.com, a website on disability issues. She is the former assistive technology columnist for BusinessWeek.com, giving rise to her fascination with technology that helps people with disabilities surmount barriers in the workplace and life space. She is also the author of The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology & Devices. As a writer and blogger, Suzanne is a trusted source of disability information for The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, HealthDay, Media Post, Ability Magazine, Disaboom and more. Suzanne lost her hearing at age four and grew up profoundly deaf. In 2002 she received a cochlear implant, which she credits as "the ultimate assistive technology."