New Jersey Man Starts Web Portal To Assist People With Disabilities Getting Jobs

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

From the NJ Business:

It’s a stubborn fact that the majority of working-age Americans with disabilities can’t find a job, or enjoy the independence a paycheck delivers. But New
Jersey-based GettingHired is hoping to change things with its just-launched Web portal, a job-search database that encourages employers to pay an annual
fee to get their openings in front of this under-tapped talent pool.

Retired textile executive Tom Muscalino leads a Bedminster-based team that has spent the past two years figuring out how to fully load a Web
portal for job hunting by people with disabilities. The site,, brings together employers, including Public Service Enterprise Group, of
Newark, and Summit-based Celgene, with advocates for the disabled, including Easter Seals and Goodwill Industries.

Also signing on to the community are service providers who provide training, technology and other services that bridge the gap between
a disability and a job.

“We thought if we could provide a platform where all of these stakeholders come together and join forces, we could potentially make a huge difference in
this unacceptably high rate of unemployment,” said Muscalino, chief operating officer of GettingHired.

The site offers a video interview coaching program “that is totally accessible, regardless of disability, type or severity,” Muscalino said. “If you are
blind, it turns everything into spoken word; if you’re deaf, it turns everything into script.”

There’s also a 70-question career self-assessment to help applicants decide which jobs are right for them, plus job-matching technology, volunteer mentors
and social networking. Everything at is free to the job seeker.

Applicants are not asked to identify their disability on their profile. “It is illegal for employers to inquire about an applicant’s disability,”
Muscalino said. “Our portal is not about somebody’s disabilities, it’s about their talents and backgrounds and interests.” was funded by private investors “who all have a personal reason for wanting to help people with disabilities,” he said.

The company’s revenue will come from the employers, charged on a sliding scale based on company size. Annual subscriptions range from $250 for firms with
10 or fewer employees, to $65,000 for firms with 75,000 or more workers.

Muscalino is the former president of the textile firm West Point Pepperell, where he worked from 1973 to 1993; he then joined Dan River and retired as president
of the towel and linens maker in 2005. Muscalino said when he was in the corporate world, his companies had diversity programs for women and minorities,
“but it just never occurred to any of us that we should be also tapping into this labor force.”

Employers will constantly post jobs on the site, because turnover creates job openings even during a recession. Even companies that are considered extraordinarily
great places to work” will have annual turnover of 20 percent, Muscalino said. So a firm with 20,000 employees might post as many as 4,000 jobs a year

About 37 percent of adults, aged 21 to 64, with a disability are employed, according to the 2007 Disability Status Report from Cornell University.

Hannah Rudstam of Cornell’s Employment and Disability Institute will be at GettingHired on Jan. 7, presenting a four-hour workshop for business managers
and human resources people. The workshop will be co-led by the Garden State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management.

“About 20 percent of the population has a disability, which means that 20 percent of an employer’s talent pool has a disability,” Rudstam said. “This is
a talent pool that faces tremendous barriers to being taken seriously as job candidates.”

There are many job sites for the disabled, but is unusual in that “they have a foot in the disability and the business community,” Rudstam
said. “They are surging ahead at making bridges that are difficult to make.”

Elaine Katz, vice president of grants and special initiatives at the Kessler Foundation in West Orange, said “is very good, it’s very accessible
and it will benefit people with disabilities.” A Kessler grant funded the Cornell program, which is aimed at getting employers and social service agencies
to collaborate in finding jobs for the disabled.

One of the site’s competitors is Accessible Employment, which runs a job search site funded by a Kessler grant and developed by the New Jersey Chamber of
Commerce Foundation. Dana Egreczky, senior vice president for work force development at the Chamber, said was launched in August
2007 and, like, is fully accessible.

“It is difficult for anyone to find a job right now, but it is especially difficult for people who literally do not have the wherewithal to pound the pavement,”
she said.

Leonard Schneider is executive director of Jewish Vocational Services in East Orange, which provides training and job placement services to 750 people a
year, many of whom have disabilities. He’s not familiar with job-search Web sites for the disabled, but instead provides one-on-one services to the agency’s

“It’s the small and midsized companies that are hiring today, and we approach them directly to identify job opportunities,” Schneider said. Jewish Vocational
Services also has an on-site supervised workshop, where about 80 employees with disabilities complete packaging and assembly work through contracts with
businesses. And the agency has received a Kessler Foundation grant to develop home-based jobs for people with severe disabilities who can’t leave their
homes, but can use technology to perform call center jobs.

Brad Turner-Little, assistant vice president of government relations for Easter Seals, is on the GettingHired advisory council. “Work force development
is a primary focus of Easter Seals, and there really is a crisis around the employment of people with disabilities.”

He said’s recruiting among employers is significant, “because these companies are committing themselves to the disability population and
saying ‘we really want to tap this population.’ ”

Public Service Enterprise Group, the Newark-based utility, was one of the first employers to subscribe to GettingHired, and has posted dozens of jobs. Randi
Casey, director of talent acquisition, said, “Attracting talent is increasingly important as the baby boomers retire. This is a great pool of talent that
we hope to tap into.”

Posted by BA Haller at
4:45 PM

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