3 Tools to Help Identify Your Clients’ Skills

The urgent need for qualified employees in fast-growing fields is shifting employer’s priorities from requiring specific credentials toward identifying in-demand skills. This is beneficial for our clients, who often have the skills required for jobs but do not have U.S. credentials upon arrival. Here are three tools that can help you identify your clients’ skills:

These resources are all linked under the job seekers’ page at Skillful, a web-based initiative that aims to align people looking for work, training programs, and career coaches with the specific skills heavily needed by employers.

This post was written by Guest Blogger, Carrie Thiele.

Reminder: Higher Job Development Webinar, September 20, 2:00-3:30 PM EST

Higher Job Development Webinar, September 20, 2:00-3:30 PM EST

Leveraging First Placements: How to be Strategic with Entry Level Jobs

Refugees arriving in the U.S. need to begin working as soon as possible. Our job as refugee employment professionals is to make that happen. While a refugee’s first job will rarely be their “dream job”, there are ways to leverage the first placement so that it becomes the first step on a career ladder, rather than a “dead-end job. There are also ways to ensure employers see refugees as employees worthy of long-term investment, rather than short-term labor solutions.

Join Higher’ s Nicole Redford and front-line refugee employment practitioners for a webinar that will present strategies for finding and landing employers who will offer not just a first job but a first step on a career-ladder.  Guest speakers include Hilary Lucas of Catholic Charities of Cleveland and Lindsey Saultz of Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains.

To register please click here.

Higher Job Development Webinar, September 20, 2:00-3:30 PM EST

Higher Job Development Webinar, September 20, 2:00-3:30 PM EST

Leveraging First Placements: How to be Strategic with Entry Level Jobs

Refugees arriving in the U.S. need to begin working as soon as possible. Our job as refugee employment professionals is to make that happen. While a refugee’s first job will rarely be their “dream job”, there are ways to leverage the first placement so that it becomes the first step on a career ladder, rather than a “dead-end job. There are also ways to ensure employers see refugees as employees worthy of long-term investment, rather than short-term labor solutions.

Join Higher’ s Nicole Redford and front-line refugee employment practitioners for a webinar that will present strategies for finding and landing employers who will offer not just a first job but a first step on a career-ladder.  Guest speakers include Hilary Lucas of Catholic Charities of Cleveland and Lindsey Saultz of Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains.

To register please click here.

 

Workforce Collaborative Brings Together Local Service Providers to Enhance Refugee Work Readiness

When looking at ways to enhance your job readiness training or employment placement, has your agency tried looking into existing community organizations doing similar work?

Local collaboration can mean more than working with other refugee agencies. Collaboration and partnership with other nonprofits in your community doing similar work can maximize the benefits of your employment programs. Like using a bank to teach your financial literacy courses. Looking to other nonprofits who are doing job development or job readiness courses is a great way to further develop opportunities for your clients.

This week, guest blogger Elizabeth Ringler shares an example from Pennsylvania.

A workforce collaborative in Pittsburgh, Pa has launched a new initiative to enhance refugee work readiness through targeted training. The collaborative includes the Career Development Center at Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which is a resettlement agency, and the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.  Together, the two organizations serve large numbers of refugees and immigrants in Allegheny County, Pa. This collaboration was made possible through the All for All Immigrant Workforce Initiative organized by the City of Pittsburgh.

Refugees participating in the program meet twice a week to learn job readiness skills including how to look for a job, resume writing, interview preparation, and networking skills. The program also offers opportunities to enhance participants’ computer literacy and workforce specific English language skills. Additionally, the program offers on-site childcare for participants.

“This program aims to teach immigrants about the American job search process and work culture, and supports each individual in developing a job search strategy that meets their needs and leads to long term career success. By working with regional employers, we hope to showcase the important role and economic value immigrants have in Pittsburgh,” says Career Development Center Director Sarah Welch.

To learn more about the All for All Immigrant Workforce Initiative, contact Iris Valanti, Public Relations Associate, Jewish Family & Children’s Service Email: ivalanti@jfcspgh.org

If your agency does a similar event please write to us at information@higheradvantage.org to share your story.

Farewell post from Daniel Wilkinson

Dear Higher Network,

On August 21st I transitioned out of Higher and into a new role at LIRS, in which I’ll be managing a corporate partnership focused on creating sustainable career opportunities for refugees.

It has been a fantastic 2 years with Higher, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to support you in the critically important work that you do in helping refugees become self-sufficient and pursue their dreams.

While I am excited for my new role and the new opportunities that it will give me to support the career paths and community integration of refugees, I will miss being part of Higher, and wanted leave you with a few parting thoughts:

-Never underestimate the value of connecting and collaborating with your peers. We hear again and again from attendees at our events that while the training we provide is extremely helpful, the most valuable thing people get out of being connected to Higher is the opportunity to connect with peers. This has been true for me too! The opportunity to get to know many of you has added a lot of depth to my expertise in refugee employment. Thank you!

-Don’t let short-term discouragements get you down. It’s easy to be discouraged in the work that we do and wonder if we are really making a difference. Keep in mind though that refugee employment is like gardening- if you keep doing the right things, the garden will eventually grow. So keep showing up, keep providing excellent services for your clients, and I promise you that the harvest will come. It won’t be long before you have some amazing success stories to tell (on the Higher blog of course)!

-There are ALWAYS opportunities! Our work can be a roller-coaster. Funding levels, arrival numbers, refugee populations and the economy will always be changing. I started my career in refugee employment in 2010 during the Great Recession but chose to ignore the bad news on TV and believe that America is in fact “the land of opportunity.” This positive attitude and a commitment to creativity in my approach to finding opportunities for myself and my clients has always served me well. There will always be challenges to overcome. The good news is that we are experts in overcoming challenges. That’s what we help our clients do every day!

So keep your head up, keep that smile on, and keep those business cards in your pocket! The best is yet to come. I believe that!

On a final note, if you have a passion for refugee work, employment services experience, and writing/tech skills, I would really encourage you to apply for my former position. You can find the job description for the Network Engagement Specialist position here.

Thanks again for a great 2 years!

All the best,

Daniel Wilkinson

Targeted Volunteer Recruitment- for Employment Programs

Guest blog post by Laura Griffin, Coordinator for Volunteerism and Mentoring at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Phones ringing constantly? Volunteer applications piling up?

Many offices have seen a massive increase in the number of people reaching out to volunteer.

But is your agency able to find the right volunteers that actually help employment programs? Depending on the needs of your employment team, the right volunteer might mean someone who is available during office hours or people with specific skills and experience that can mentor higher skilled refugees. In order to find the best possible volunteers to support your employment program, you may want to consider targeted volunteer recruitment.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but strategically narrowing your recruitment effort to a small audience of potential volunteers may be more effective than broader outreach. In addition to benefiting your program, people are more likely to say “yes” when asked to volunteer if your request is personalized and specific. If you are recruiting volunteers and trying to leverage their skills strategically you need to learn enough about each applicant to know what motivates them to volunteer, and what makes them especially qualified for the job.

To get started on your targeted recruitment campaign, answer these 4 questions:

 

Question Example 1: Career Mentors Example 2: Teacher
1) What do you need? Civil engineer employment mentor Teacher for 10 AM Job Development Class
2) Who could provide this? Current or retired civil engineers Retired teachers, education grad students, current teachers off during the summer
3) How can we communicate with them? Ask staff & current volunteers if they know any civil engineers they could recruit. Post on job recruitment sites like Indeed.com. Call engineering companies. Call local school administers (Hint: End of the school year is best, right before summer break). Reach out to staff/volunteer personal contacts. Call local grad schools.
4) What would motivate these people to volunteer? Personal experience with career mentors in their own life. A desire to see the results of mentoring in refugee lives. Learning more about the culture of the students they teach, adding cross-cultural skills for their resume

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re on your way to recruiting the right volunteer for the job. Read 8 Ways Volunteers Can Support Refugee Employment for more ideas on volunteer roles.

Have any great experiences to share? Email information@higheradvantage.org.

Understanding a Paycheck-Online Learning with Higher

Looking for a great tool on how to understand a paycheck? Higher has developed the perfect tool for you and your clients. Our eLearning module Understanding Your Paycheck, is available through Higher’s Online Learning Institute.

Here are five reasons to check out this resource, according to your peers:

  1. Less than six minutes to complete the course.

“The module is really well developed and covers all the aspects of the paycheck in a very short duration of the time.”  Bidur Dahal, Education Trainer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains

  1. A great addition to any job readiness class.

“This module was a great tool. I thought it was very user friendly and clear. We will use this in our first job readiness class…” Lauren Brockett, Director of Employment Services at Friends of Refugees – Cafe Clarkston

  1. Use it for employment orientation.

“It clarifies the paycheck, pay stub and deductions very well. I am really excited about this module and will be very happy to present it to my clients. I will try to make it part of my employment orientation.”  Kawa Hawari, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota

  1. More of a story than a training.

“I thought it was excellent! I definitely see this as a great job readiness workshop resource. We talk to our clients about understanding pay stubs in detail, but I like this module so much because there’s a story to it—it makes it so much more relatable. Looking forward to being able to use this for our clients!”  Tawni Floyd, Employment Manager at World Relief Tri-Cities

  1. More than just the basics.

“The paycheck module it’s great and short, so that will make it easy to show in class with interpreters. I also like the emphasis on respectfully talking to your boss if you think there is a problem with your paycheck. I love these modules.”  Jessica Ploen, Employment Training Specialist at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska

There are 12 other training modules available on Higher’s Online Learning Institute to help you in your work.  Check them out by signing in or registering as a new user here.

Upwardly Global Now Offers Refugee-specific Services

You may already be familiar with Upwardly Global (UpGlo). Since its founding in 2000, UpGlo has offered free job search training and services, online and in person, to help skilled immigrants and refugees rebuild professional careers in the U.S.  One thing that you may not be aware of, however, is that they now offer refugee-specific services to eligible job seekers nationwide.

The program includes UpGlo’s standard job search training and services as well as an Online Learning Portal that houses free training courses, materials, and community forums. For example, the online community platform, known as WeGlo, provides guides and resources related to refugee legal rights, social and welfare benefits and information regarding naturalization, etc.

UpGlo’s refugee-specific services also include free access to Coursera online college courses, and for clients in the San Francisco Bay area, access to internship opportunities at Tetra Tech DPK.

Additionally, refugee clients are connected with volunteer mentors from various industries through informational and networking events. UpGlo provides refugee-specific training to volunteer mentors, equipping them to assist refugees with interview preparation, job search, and building a professional network in the U.S.

To learn more about UpGlo’s refugee-specific services, click here.

Frontline Perspective: Former Refugees Now Working in Refugee Employment Share Their Advice

Many of our colleagues in refugee employment are former refugees. These staff members bring with them valuable first-hand knowledge of the refugee experience, critical language skills, and a unique perspective that benefits us all.

It’s important to acknowledge, however, the personal challenges and cultural adjustment that these staff members have successfully navigated (or are currently navigating) in order to be effective in their roles.

Speaking about his own experience getting started in refugee resettlement and employment services in 2011, former Higher Peer Advisor Subash Acharya says:

 “[As a Job Developer coming from a different cultural background] I found it challenging to build rapport with employers in the beginning…Many did not feel comfortable with me because they had never worked with someone like me in the past.”

Over time Subash developed strategies for overcoming these challenges, and  eventually was promoted to Employment Services Coordinator at Ascentria Care Alliance in Concord, NH. In this role he managed a successful refugee employment program from 2015-2017, before transitioning out of refugee services in order to pursue the next steps in his own professional journey.

We wondered what the experience of other former refugees now working in refugee employment has been like, so during a breakout session at Higher’s 3rd Annual Refugee Employment Workshop, we asked these individuals to answer 3 questions:

  1. What was your biggest challenge when you began working in refugee employment?
  2. What advice do you have for new refugee employment staff coming from a refugee background?
  3. How can management at resettlement agencies support staff coming from a refugee background?

Here is what they had to say:

Biggest Challenges of refugee employment staff from a refugee background (past and present challenges)

  • Adapting to a new culture while trying to help others (many from cultures different from mine) adapt at the same time can be difficult.
  • Clients from my culture often have higher expectations of me and sometimes expect me to show them favoritism.
  • Coworkers, clients and employers sometimes have had difficulty understanding my accent.
  • Coming from a different culture, early on I had some difficulty building relationships with American employers.

Advice for refugee employment staff from a refugee background

  • Be open-minded and not too judgmental towards your coworkers and clients.
  • Stop…think about when you first arrived. Then act. Your perspective as a former refugee will help you.
  • Be flexible, and don’t take things personally.
  • Work hard on your own cultural adaptation so that you can set an example for clients.

Advice for management about hiring and working with staff from a refugee background

  • Provide additional cultural orientation and be patient as these staff members continue to adapt to American culture.
  • Don’t just hire for language ability; hire former refugees who have some experience with American culture as well as the professional skills necessary for the job.
  • Just like clients, former refugees now working in refugee employment services are adjusting to general American culture as well as American workplace culture. Set these team members up for success by clearly communicating professional expectations and office etiquette.
  • Respect the unique perspective of the former refugees on your team; show an interest in their culture and demonstrate a willingness to learn from them.

We hope that sharing the perspective of our colleagues coming from a refugee background will be a reminder of their vital contributions and provide an opportunity for coworkers and supervisors to think through how they can best support and learn from these staff members.

A Few Ways to Engage Volunteers in your Employment Program

With all the changes over the course of FY17, Higher has learned that many offices have seen a surge of interest from community volunteers.

Though it can be time consuming to bring on volunteers, when volunteers are involved in the resettlement process they can become powerful community advocates on behalf of refugees.

Here are a few specific ways you can use volunteers in key program areas.

Job Readiness

  • Filling out mock job applications with clients: Gather various job applications from employer websites or places of business. Have volunteers practice filling out applications with clients for the jobs that they are interested in. Focus on any English words that may be confusing or new to clients.
  • Assisting with Job Readiness training: Volunteers can help teach job readiness class or meet 1-on-1 with clients to review key concepts or help them to prepare for job interviews. Mock interviews with individuals or small groups is a great way to prepare for job interviews.
  • Assisting with Transportation: Volunteers can provide transportation for clients searching for jobs nearby or attending job interviews. Once a client accepts a position, volunteers can assist with learning routes to and from a job or assist with arranging transportation if the job requires work at times when public transportation may be inconsistent (e.g. Sundays or night shifts).
  • Financial Literacy: Volunteers can help teach financial literacy courses or provide one on one training to clients. This includes helping clients to open a bank account or complete personal budgets.

Job Development

  • Researching available jobs: With a client by their side, have volunteers research employment opportunities near bus lines or within walking distance of the client’s home.
  • Recruiting potential employers: Have volunteers tap into their networks – work, church, sports teams, family, etc. – to see if anyone they know is interested in hiring refugees.

Post-Placement Assistance

  • Helping clients maintain employment: Once a client is employed, ask a volunteer to sit down with him/her and review the importance of timeliness, not missing work, appropriate dress and proper work behavior.

How do you utilize volunteers in your programs? Write to us at information@higheradvantage.org to share your stories.

For more ideas on engaging volunteers, check out these previously published Higher blog posts: