Wrapping Up 2014 & Looking Ahead to the New Year

By , December 19, 2014

For several years, Think Beyond the Label has been connecting qualified job candidates with disabilities to businesses looking to hire great talent. As 2014 comes to a close, we’re taking aim at several achievable goals for the New Year.

First, we will keep working to improve the employment rate of people with disabilities. Compared to their non-disabled, working aged counterparts, Department of Labor statistics show significantly fewer people with disabilities are working. Further, the ones that are working tend to be over-represented in lower paying jobs and under-represented in management—despite having the education and experience required for those positions.

Second, we will offer even more opportunities for our job seekers to network with other professionals through a rich community of resources and experiences. Think Beyond the Label is already leading the field by providing innovative online career fairs specifically for workers with disabilities, and we’ve got a highly skilled, well-educated candidate pool looking for connections.

Did you know:

•       60% of registered job seekers have more than 5 years of relevant job experience, and 35% have more than 10 years of relevant experience?
•       80% of our job seekers have a professional certification, or, college level degree and beyond?
•       40% of our candidates are willing to relocate for a new job opportunity?

With these numbers, it’s not hard to see why this group is a virtual treasure trove of talent. We’ve got job-ready people who just need a way to get connected.

Which brings me to our third goal for 2015: finding more ways to build the connections that put people into jobs. It sounds simple, but we know that challenges remain. Last month, TBTL launched a job seeker survey designed to help us get a better understanding of those remaining challenges from the people who know best—jobseekers with disabilities. We asked our job seekers to tell us more about the kinds of tools and online resources that are most valuable in the search for employment. Which websites do you use? How effective are virtual events? And are you connecting with the services available through area colleges and universities to find employment? In addition to the logistics of finding or advancing a career, we asked about other experiences. Are qualified candidates concerned about disclosure, or, requesting an on-the-job accommodation? And, what other barriers prevent people from achieving successful employment outcomes? We’re still gathering and analyzing the data. So, if you’d like to take our survey there’s still time – just click here.

Even though the data’s not all in, we’ve already learned some valuable lessons. First, students with disabilities need better connections between career services and disability services in their postsecondary schools. We’ve also learned that people need more information to help reduce confusion and concerns about how and when to tell an employer about a disability. Finally, we’ve learned that people with disabilities want the same opportunities as everyone else to show a potential employer what they bring to the table … no special treatment needed. (No surprise there, right?!) We know that understanding these important experiences will help us increase the depth of Think Beyond the Label’s resources for candidates and businesses.

As you’re getting ready for a fresh start in 2015, I hope you’ll continue partnering with Think Beyond the Label. Together, I know we can build needed connections between abilities and employment.

Our very best wishes for safe and happy holidays!

Author: Joe Entwisle

Joe Entwisle is a policy analyst for Health & Disability Advocates in the areas of healthcare, employment and work incentives. He has worked as a policy analyst for the state of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin and several private businesses. As an individual with a disability, Joe shares the unique insights of the public and private systems he works with. He also starred in one of Think Beyond the Label’s national T.V. ads in 2010, appearing as a potential job candidate with a disability.