AbilityLinks.org, the job opportunity website for persons with disabilities and inclusive employers, reported a significant increase in the amount of open employment positions posted to its site during its week-long virtual job fair held October 12-16. This despite published reports of an unemployment rate greater than 10 percent.
AbilityLinks.org, founded and supported in part by Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, held this free online recruiting event that was open to both job seekers and employers. Accessible 24-hours a day throughout the week, the event provided job seekers with disabilities the opportunity to review a wide variety of job postings, search for employment in a specific field or industry and email their resumes to job fair employers. Job seekers could also chat online with employers, ask questions of experts on topics such as social security benefits and health insurance, and gather advice from individuals with disabilities who have already found work.
Potential employers were able to "exhibit" at the job fair by posting their company's logo, a description of their organization, and a link to their company website. Employers posted open positions, browsed candidate resumes, and participated in a Webinar that allowed them to showcase their companies to job seekers. In addition, experts were on hand to answer questions on a variety of topics such as tips for interviewing candidates with disabilities and requirements of workplace accommodations.
"Though we are absolutely thrilled by the positive response of employers to the job fair, we were still somewhat surprised," notes Ken Skord, who is the director of vocational counseling at Marianjoy and the director of AbilityLinks.org. "Given the national unemployment rate, the outlook on the job market appears dismal and gives the impression that job opportunities are extremely scarce. This can be very disheartening news for individuals with disabilities who often find the job market to be difficult anyway. Seeing the enthusiasm and participation by so many top employers at this event however, has given everyone involved a renewed sense of hope and purpose."
By the end of the event, the AbilityLinks.org site boasted 335 newly posted job openings and nearly 200 new resumes added to its database. In addition, more than 100 job seekers participated in the Webinars and chat sessions while the AbilityLinks.org website logged over 5,500 unique visitors to the site throughout the event.
"We have long felt that AbilityLinks fills an unmet need, not only for job seekers but also for employers," explains Skord. "From our experience, many companies would like to hire individuals with disabilities but have questions regarding insurance, accommodations and legalities overall. This forum allowed them to get the answers they needed while giving them access to a valuable pool of candidates who are eager and dedicated workers. Given the success of this event, we are seeking additional funding in order to hold another virtual job fair in the near future."
For more information on AbilityLinks and its upcoming events, please visit www.AbilityLinks.org or call 630/909-7440. AbilityLinks is a program of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, a not-for-profit healthcare provider located in Wheaton, Illinois.
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