By Guest Bloggers David Mitchell, Administrator, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Michelle Krefft, Resource Manager for Business Services, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Chair, Employer’s Disability Resource Network
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides a chance for state systems to think differently regarding service delivery to individuals with disabilities that results in employment. In Iowa, this has provided chances for various employment systems to come together with new energy, purpose and innovation as we work to align processes, increase capacity and move the employment dial forward for individuals with disabilities. An example of this type of collaboration is the reverse job fair concept. Iowa has developed a collaborative group of partners – the Employer’s Disability Resource Network, who have worked together to host the reverse job fairs.
The reverse job fair takes the typical business career fair, where job candidates travel from booth to booth – and reverses the action. In the reverse job fair, job candidates host their own booths, preparing their marketing materials to brand their skills, abilities and interests in entertaining and informative ways. This allows them to present themselves in a manner that showcases their work contributions and provides a new method of communicating with businesses that fits the comfort level of the job seeker. As business hiring authorities travel from booth to booth, the candidates present themselves highlighting their specific business contributions. Job candidates prepare in advance practicing their 30-second elevator speeches and preparing poster boards, models, or video and picture demonstrations, as creative displays of work skills that might meet a business need.