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Hints and tips to improve your recruitment

There are many ways you can improve your employment practice in relation to disabled people. The following suggestions come from arts organisations involved in Get A Plan. We’ve grouped them into:

You could also adopt the Disability Symbol. This is recognition given by Jobcentre Plus to employers based in Great Britain who have agreed to take action to meet five commitments regarding the employment, retention, training and career development of disabled employees.

And read what Peer 2 Peer, a project that gave space for organisations to find out solutions to increasing diversity from each other, suggest.


  • Make an active statement about welcoming diversity – not something ‘worthy’, but something direct and appealing (check out Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company’s bottom line – all their job ads have this at the bottom – ‘The Bottom Line: OTTC wants to reflect the diversity of our world in the work it does and the people it works with. This means that if you’re good at what you do and think you might want to work with us, we’d like to hear from you. That’s the bottom line.’)
  • Think about where you are placing your advert – can you broaden your catchment by advertising more widely or in specific publications/though specific organisations?
  • Check the job description – is it up to date? An honest and accurate description of the job? Have you removed any potentially discriminating criteria (ie clean driving licence, verbal communication skills, ability to use the phone) unless they are genuinely essential to the job?
  • Avoid misleading words such as ‘active’, ‘youthful’, ‘mature’, ’strong’ etc unless you can show that they are genuinely essential to the job
  • Think about advertising different formats within the ad and having the ad available in different formats if required

Application forms/letters of application

  • Think about formats – can the online version work with screen readers etc, can people alter the font size, does it say number of words rather than expecting people to fill the space (handwriting size can vary etc)
  • Watch your language – is it clear and jargon free? If there are abbreviations, have you explained them elsewhere
  • Is the layout clean and clear, is it easy to follow?
  • Employment history – does someone need to account for everything, every gap in their employment history? Have you asked about all their experience and not just paid work?
  • Keep it friendly

Application packs and processes

  • Alternative formats – and leave time in the application process for translation both ways
  • Include a detailed location plan including access to public transport, parking and building access details so people can make a choice about how easy/expensive it is to get to you/get to work
  • Informal pre visits welcome, and/or a named contact to talk to about the job in advance, or an ‘open afternoon’ where people can come and find out more
  • Include info on ‘a typical working day’ if the job may not be clear to people
  • Emphasis the willingness of the organisation to accommodate specific requirements (and knowledge of the legal requirement under the DDA to make ‘reasonable adjustments’)
  • Be generous when planning recruitment timetable (aim for minimum of 3 months)

Shortlisting and interviewing

  • Shortlisting should be based on info in application form and not in the equal opps form (which should be given a unique identifying marker and separated before shortlisting)
  • Equal opps shortlisting uses a points system where each candidate is scored against common criteria – and ideally these should have been known to candidates when they applied (you can legally add ‘adds to the diversity of our team’ to the list)
  • Be flexible in terms of redistributing parts of a job if someone is not able to do a specific part (ie up to around 10%), provision of additional training and assistance might also help
  • Remember Access to Work pays for communicator support for interview and would help with situations such as the above. Find out more about Access to Work
  • Ask in advance if anyone has access requirement with coming to interview (people may need to know the style/format of the interview to know if they have any access issues with it)
  • Interviewers should be open and honest – ask questions and discuss any reservations with candidate
  • Ensure at least one member of the shortlisting and interviewing panel has had Disability Equality Training


  • Check your handbook for formats and language – is it clear and accessible?
  • Handbook should include mention of Access to Work and the options available for staff. Find out more about Access to Work
  • Break information down into bite size pieces
  • Involve all staff in induction where possible
  • Check again re access – someone may not have said that they have an access need at interview but may say now
  • Checklist of job aspects – check how the new person would best do each, rather than assuming they will do them exactly the same way as existing staff – be flexible
  • Check your health and safety procedures, they should include things like lone working policies and other things that impact on disabled staff more

Reaching out

  • Its legal to take positive action – you can target placements, apprenticeships and mentoring opportunities to people from under represented groups to increase skills, knowledge and confidence
  • Link in to your education department – they often make presentations and run workshops with people in the very groups you may be struggling to reach. Make sure employment opportunities are covered too.
  • Use your volunteer opportunities to increase diversity – for many people this is a way back into employment and it also helps spread good messages by word of mouth straight back into often hard to reach communities

Disability Symbol

Employers who wish to use the symbol have to meet these five commitments:

  • interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and consider them on their abilities
  • ensure there is a mechanism in place to discuss, at any time, but at least once a year, with disabled employees what can be done to make sure they can develop and use their abilities
  • make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment
  • take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make these commitments work
  • review the five commitments each year and what has been achieved, plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans.

To find out more about the Disability Symbol and to sign up

Peer to Peer accumulated wisdom: Recruitment

To find out more about Peer to Peer, watch the video case study