ANCOR News - 03.19.19

Applicant-Centered Recruiting: The Next (Necessary) Innovation in I/DD

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Typical “help wanted” ads do little to attract the kinds of people who would be fulfilled by a career in the industry.

They’re often positioned in such a way where similar-paying jobs in other industries like food service look more appealing, since applicants “don’t have to” work with people and their needs.

Fortunately, we’ve perfected what we think is the solution: an approach we call “applicant-centered recruiting.”

What is Applicant-Centered Recruiting?

Applicant-centered recruiting is exactly what it sounds like: a way of hiring that puts the candidate first. Their wants, their needs, their questions—all of these and more are addressed in an applicant-centered process.

The idea comes from the “person-centered care” philosophy that has changed the intellectual/developmental disability industry. Applicant-centered recruiting is simply a way of hiring that puts the candidate’s wants and needs first.

Yet even though person-centered care is changing the way we deliver service to individuals, many service providers still struggle to hire candidates who can help organizations achieve the vision that “person-centered” promises.

Why Focus on the Applicant?

In our work with I/DD organizations, we’ve learned that the “person-centered” philosophy needs to be hired for, not simply taught after unsuspecting and unprepared employees start their first day on the job.

By focusing on the applicant, you can attract candidates who are excited to work with people.

How to Put Applicant-Centered Recruiting in Place

Start by connecting with the “why” of I/DD work. It’s not about just a paycheck for the right candidate. The type of person that’s ideal for a DSP job—and, therefore, the type you have a better chance of retaining—doesn’t want “just another job.” They want something more fulfilling.

That means if you can communicate shared beliefs and values, and draw candidates’ attention to the multiple emotional and personal benefits they can get by working with people with disabilities, you’ll be more likely to attract job-seekers that would be a good fit for your organization.

Yes, you’ll need to be absolutely clear on job requirements like helping individuals with toileting—but for heaven’s sake not in the job posting. That kind of conversation is best kept for a face-to-face interview when you can properly contextualize the harder parts of a DSP job with the myriad of rewards and benefits, such as helping participants in the community.

What this Approach Can Do

The benefits of adopting this kind of approach are tangible—and exciting. For example, after we helped one organization revise their recruitment ad, they saw 173 new applicants in 48 hours.

Another provider we worked with received 3 times more applicants from their ad—even though it ran in the dead of summer—compared to the same time the year before.

And a third client we’ve worked with now makes applicants complete a more complex process to apply—because they’re simply receiving too many applications.

Is Applicant-Centered Recruiting Right for You?

If you’re like most service providers, you’re desperately short-staffed.

A national unemployment rate that hovers around 4% doesn’t help.

But even when drawing from a smaller employment pool, you can make much more of an impact on potential candidates—and thereby increase the chances that you’ll see unprecedented recruiting success—by putting those candidates first.

Scott and Craig de Fasselle are marketing experts who help I/DD providers attract and retain great DSPs with communication that motivates. To get their best advice on how to write an applicant-focused job ad, as well as a free copy of “9 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Job Post,” connect with them at