Minnesota employers: tips for finding, hiring and welcoming people with disabilities 

Two people shaking hands over paperwork

More and more Minnesota businesses are learning about the many benefits of hiring people with disabilities. If you are an employer who wants to hire people with disabilities, but don’t know how to get started, here are a few great suggestions from fellow Minnesota employers recognized for their success hiring people with disabilities and from Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) and State Services for the Blind (SSB) staff: 

Commit to recruitment and hiring 

  • Success starts with a strong commitment and champions.  Commitment starts at the top of the company and should reach all levels, from employees and line managers to supervisors and human resources staff.     
  • Business leaders who have successfully hired and retained individuals with disabilities all started with an unequivocal “Can-Do” attitude.  Learn from VRS and SSB employer resource staff about the strategies business leaders have implemented to successfully hire and retain people with disabilities. 

Leverage state services 

  • VRS and SSB employer services staff can help connect businesses with qualified workers and stay with you during training and transitions.  
  • Managers and human resources staff should get to know their local VRS and SSB employer resource staff who can help create a pipeline of people with disabilities who are interested in learning more about the roles within the company and who may be potential applicants and employees. 
  • VRS and SSB employer employment services staff are available around the state; you can find your regional representative here

Update position description language to be inclusive 

  • Position descriptions often use language which disqualifies or excludes individuals for positions, even though the candidate can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without an accommodation.  For example, consider whether everyone applying for a particular position really needs a driver’s license to do the job or if they could use other modes of transportation to accomplish the tasks. 
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals are often excluded from employment when position descriptions state, “Must be able to speak, write and understand English.”  If hearing is not an essential function of the job, the PD should be written as “Good communication skills.”  Deaf people use the phone and communicate effectively using various forms of technology. 
  • Remember that people with disabilities come from all education levels and career points – from entry level to advanced career professionals – don’t overlook a potential pool of skilled and educated candidates by only making certain position descriptions inclusive. 

Interview with Confidence 

  • Prepare recruiters to interview people with disabilities by offering training on topics such as disability etiquette, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and reasonable accommodations in the workplace. 
  • Focus on the person’s skills and abilities during the interview process rather than the disability. In other words, focus on why you should hire a person, not on why you believe you shouldn’t hire the person 
  • Embrace new approaches to interviewing: Have the candidate tour and talk with the interviewer during the interview; allow a short in-person interview instead of a phone screening if requested; consider a short working interview that allows a person to demonstrate skills. 
  • Consider working with VRS and SSB for candidate referrals and interview all qualified candidate referrals. 

Be flexible 

  • Some people with disabilities use public transportation or Metro Mobility. Can the start time be somewhat flexible to accommodate possible delays in these modes of transportation? 
  • Consider creating some part-time positions or more flexible start/end times for shifts. 

Offer trial opportunities to find the right fit 

  • Consider onsite training programs, job tryouts or internships to create an on-ramp for potential full-time employment. Creating a trial employment opportunity provides a nice warm-up for both you and the employee.  
  • Offer informational interviews, job shadows and mentorship opportunities for students with disabilities attending local colleges and high schools. 


See a Star Tribune guest commentary on this topic from Commissioner Steve Grove of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) 

Find out about more resources for employers hiring people with disabilities here on CareerForceMN.com.