eRecruiting and Accessibility

Imagine that the only thing standing between you and your dream applicant is an online job application that prevents the candidate from clicking the "next" button. It's a common scenario faced by many job seekers with disabilities, and inaccessible technology used during the hiring process is the root cause. Such issues can create employment barriers to qualified candidates and can cause you to miss out on potentially great hires.

Want to learn more? This section of TalentWorks provides general background and lays a foundation for making accessibility improvements.   

Imagine that the only thing standing between you and your dream applicant is an online job application that prevents the candidate from clicking the "next" button.

What exactly is meant by the term "accessibility?" How is it defined in a technology context?

"Accessible technology" is technology that can be used successfully by people with a wide range of functional abilities. When technology is accessible, each user is able to interact with it in ways that work best for him or her. For example, when using a desktop computer, there are multiple ways to input information—via a mouse, the keyboard, or through a speech recognition system to name a few. If the operating system on the computer is accessible, it will work with any of them.

Accessible technology is either directly accessible, meaning it is usable without any additional devices, or it is accessible through and compatible with "assistive" technology (AT). For example, a smartphone with a built-in screen reader is directly accessible; an online job application that can be navigated effectively by someone with a visual impairment using a screen reader program such as JAWS is AT-compatible. Watch this featured PEAT video to explore this topic more.

Accessibility is all about the user interface; it gives job applicants and employees a built-in, cost-effective, and equitable way to control and use the technology. Accessibility often falls into the same category as usability, in that both seek to improve the user experience and effectiveness of the technology. Usability covers the user experience broadly, while accessibility addresses the specific needs of users with functional differences or limitations.

But in terms of actual product features, they often overlap. For example, a feature like volume control benefits everyone, as does the ability to zoom the display on a small mobile device. This overlap is often referred to as "universal design," which means the design of products so they can be used by the widest range of people possible. Watch this featured PEAT video to learn more about how universal design can make all employees more productive.

How common is eRecruiting?

With most people finding and applying for today's jobs online, it's clear that technology in the hiring and recruiting phase is everywhere. PEAT's survey of job seekers with disabilities found that 50% used social media to search for jobs, 56% have searched for a job on mobile devices, and 67% have been asked to complete web-based pre-employment assessments or tests. At the same time, employers are using technology to find and manage candidates. Research estimates that more than 70% of companies have implemented or plan to implement Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based HR technologies within the next two years. Meanwhile, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that 46% of organizations expect to spend more on HR technology in 2016 as compared to 2015. As this technology gets deployed, it's all the more important that it's accessible to all job candidates.

As an employer, why should I care if my eRecruiting tools are accessible?

It's pretty simple—accessible eRecruiting tools equate to better talent acquisition. If your online job advertisements, applications, screening tools, and digital interviewing applications are not accessible to those with disabilities, you are effectively excluding certain individuals from applying for jobs at your company. This can expose you to legal risk, and more importantly, it limits the pool of talent you'll be able to consider for open positions. On the other hand, if your virtual door is open to all job applicants, you widen your recruitment pool and everybody wins. To learn more about the business case for fostering an accessible, inclusive workplace, check out the ROI of Accessible eRecruiting.

What can make an eRecruiting tool inaccessible?

Common accessibility issues with online applications include the following:

  • Complex web navigation that is not intuitive
  • Timeout restrictions that cause an application to close before the user can save or complete it
  • Lack of video captioning
  • Lack of alternative text, which can make images hard to recognize
  • Poor screen/color contrast
  • Inaccessible form fields and mouse-only input options

Why do these accessibility issues occur in the first place, and what can I do about them?

Accessibility issues are generally not intentional on the part of the employer or technology provider. After all, not everyone is aware of accessibility issues—and that's where PEAT can help. We're here to increase awareness and understanding, and guide you to the tools you need to improve the accessibility of your eRecruiting and workplace technologies.  

In many cases, employers purchase off-the-shelf talent management applications created by third-party vendors which may or may not be fully accessible. So the first lesson in ICT procurement is to consider accessibility before you make a technology purchase, write accessibility requirements into your requests for proposals, and then adequately test the accessibility of any products you develop or implement. Meanwhile, if you discover that a prospective or existing product has accessibility problems, there are many effective ways to work with vendors on product customization. To learn more about these practices, visit the Buying Accessible eRecruiting Products section of this tool.

How can my company improve the accessibility of our eRecruiting technologies?

You've already taken a positive first step by visiting TalentWorks! Your goal is to ensure that all job seekers can access the eRecruiting technology you have in place. This means creating or purchasing web-based tools that meet or exceed WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards. (See PEAT's background on accessible technology standards to learn more.) When procuring new eRecruiting technology, commit to purchasing only accessible technology products. And if you manufacture eRecruiting technology, develop accessible, interoperable, and universally-designed products for your customers. Please visit Make Your eRecruiting Tools Accessible to learn more.

For a more in-depth look at the issues above, please see the featured resources presented on this page.

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