Disabled job applicants who disclose their disabilities in cover letters and résumés are far more likely to be the targets of discrimination in the hiring process than other job applicants, a recent study has revealed.
This study, headed up by researchers at Rutgers and Syracuse universities, has been lauded for its groundbreaking methods of assessing disability discrimination without relying on surveys (which tend to be biased by respondents trying to provide socially acceptable answers, rather than factual responses).
Looking to evaluate the incidence of disability discrimination in the hiring process, researchers developed more than 6,000 fictitious cover letters and résumés. Of these, half were for inexperienced applicants while the other half were for highly qualified candidates.
For each of these categories of résumés and letters, researchers developed three sub-groups, refining the resumes and letters to pertain to applicants who disclosed:
They then sent these fake letters and résumés to employers advertising accounting positions. The intent behind applying for accounting jobs, according to researchers, was to eliminate any productivity-based grounds for not hiring disabled applicants.
In analyzing employers’ responses, researchers ultimately found that:
Commenting on these findings, Lisa Schur, a Rutgers’ researcher who participated in this study, has explained that:
I don’t think [the research team was] astounded by the fact that there were fewer expressions of interest [for disabled job applicants]… But I don’t think we were expecting it to be as large.
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