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Recruit & Retain

March 13, 2024

As a business, you can benefit from many different hiring incentive programs, which are designed to match you with the talent you need! Along with benefiting your business, these programs also help job seekers get back in the workforce.

These programs provide a business with either tax credits or other incentives to hire/retain individuals from specific target groups. These incentives can be key to your business' success as you bring in or retain skilled workers.

Many businesses miss out on these opportunities due to a lack of information. Don't let that be you! Review the different target groups below and use the resources to get started.

Mature Workers

As more and more seniors are available for work, employers are seeing benefits in hiring them. Mature workers tend to:

  1. Have work experience and technical skills.
  2. Have developed their soft skills.
  3. Be dedicated and take pride in their work.

State and Federal Programs: In accordance with Federal Older Americans Act regulations, the Illinois Department on Aging​ has divided Illinois into 13 Planning and Service Areas (PSAs). The 13 PSAs in Illinois are managed and served by an Area Agency on Aging. Visit the Area Agency on Aging site to see which area covers your community.

Individuals with Disabilities

Incentives for small and medium-sized businesses make tapping into the disability community an attractive recruiting strategy. Three tax incentives are available to help employers cover accommodation costs for employees or customers with disabilities.

  • The Small Business Tax Credit - This tax credit covers the costs of making access improvements for customers with disabilities.
  • Architectural and Transportation Tax Deduction - All businesses are eligible to take an annual deduction for expenses incurred to remove physical, structural, and transportation (e.g. vehicle-related) barriers for persons with disabilities at the workplace.
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) - The WOTC helps American workers with barriers to employment benefit from the creation of effective regional economic development strategies as well as create high-performance workplaces.


Hiring formerly incarcerated job seekers is easier and safer than you might think. Employers can get a full-time employee at a substantially reduced cost by taking advantage of tax credits for hiring people with past convictions.

  • Work Opportunity Tax Credits (WOTC) reduce employers’ federal income tax liability by up to $2400 when hiring a formerly incarcerated person.
  • The Federal Bonding Program covers losses up to $5,000 with no deductible and is free of charge to the employer.
  • Enterprise Zone Job Tax Credit allows any business located in the 95 Illinois enterprise zones a $500 credit on Illinois income taxes for each job created for which an economically disadvantaged individual or dislocated worker is hired.
  • On-The-Job Training is a “hire-first” program in which businesses can get up to 50% reimbursement of a new employee’s wages while they are in training.


Because more veterans are available for work, employers are seeing benefits in hiring them. Veterans tend to:

  • Have technical skills.
  • Have a reliable work ethic.
  • Have good communication skills (some speak more than one language).

Illinois employers can earn a State income tax credit of up to $5,000 annually for hiring veterans of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation Iraqi Freedom. The credit is 10% of the total wages paid to every qualified Veteran hired after January 1, 2010. Veterans must work at least 185 days during the tax year for the employer to qualify for the Veteran's Tax Credit. The Veteran's Tax Credit can be claimed by employers on income tax returns. To file for the Veteran's Tax Credit, please visit the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and file Income Tax Form 1299-D for corporations, Income Tax Form 1299-C for individuals, or Income Tax Form 1299-A for partnerships and S corporations. For further questions, please contact IDOR for additional information.​

Employers that hire veterans may receive federal tax credits as high as $9,600 per veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for tax-exempt organizations under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program (WOTC). To learn more, contact the WOTC National Office.


Provide an opportunity for youth to learn important life skills and acquire hands-on experience. Take an active role in the work experience. Look at success stories from past youth employment programs offered through the State.

Before you get started, become familiar with state and federal limitations. Youth, 16 and older, may work in any job or occupation that has not been declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. Learn more about these occupations by visiting the Illinois Department of Labor website. Keep in mind that there are some exemptions for apprentice/student-learner programs in some of these hazardous occupations.

Next Steps

If you're looking for more resources and info, check out DCEO's Programs and Services guide and Illinois workNet's Hiring for Employers page. For even more articles and resources on recruiting, head over to Tips, Tools, & Resources.

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