Understanding Employers’ Needs and Providing Solutions

The perfect employee

Consultative Selling for Refugees, Part 2: Needs Analysis

During the optional day at our Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop last November, international job development consultant Allen Anderson gave 70+ refugee employment professionals a crash course on a model of Job Development known as Consultative Selling.

We’ve already shared a birds-eye-view of what Allen presented, but now we want to zoom in and talk about the model in more detail.

This post is the second of a 4-part series that will share the basics of the model, as well as adaptations from refugee employment programs who have already been using it.

The “4-Step Road Map”

There are many facets to this model but the basic framework can be found in what Allen Anderson calls “The 4-Step Roadmap.” These four steps include: Prospecting, Needs Analysis, Selling and Follow-up—in other words, the process of finding, developing and maintaining employer relationships.

Four-step RoadmapIn part one, we introduced Consultative Selling and the first step in “The 4-Step Roadmap”: Prospecting. Prospecting involves finding job opportunities and asking for an initial appointment.

In this post we’ll move on to step two, the Needs Analysis, and talk about what you actually do in that first appointment.

What is a Needs Analysis?

Michael ScottIn the Consultative Selling model, a Needs Analysis is a 30-60 minute appointment with the hiring decision maker(s). The objective of a Needs Analysis is to introduce yourself to the employer and to ask questions that help you understand the employer’s needs, values and goals.

Asking a hiring manager well-thought-out questions can help you bypass the “wish-list” of qualifications that are often listed on formal job descriptions and give you a clear picture of what an employer is really looking for.

The Needs Analysis will also help you identify the costs, benefits, and overall value that working with refugees will bring to the employer.

All of this information will help you evaluate whether or not you can provide a solution that will meet the employers stated needs or desires.

If the answer is no, you walk away. If it is yes, then you move on to the third step – Selling.

Key Needs Analysis Questions

“Questions are the gold mine of Job Development,” says Allen Anderson. Over time you will develop your own list of go-to questions that work for you, but here are some examples to get you started:

  • What positions exist at this company (not just current openings)?
  • What tasks are associated with these positions?
  • What skills-sets do you most need?
  • What is the most important characteristic you are looking for in employees?
  • What factors typically disqualify candidates from being selected?
  • What type of employees tend to advance in this company?
  • What challenges or frustrations do you face in finding or keeping good employees?

Should You Make the Sale During the Needs Analysis?

We’re not going to get into the “selling” step until the next post, but you may be wondering whether you should try to sell the employer on your services during this appointment or at a later time. Well, it depends. As Kenny Rogers says:

Kenny Rogers

Most of us have heard the expression “You snooze, you lose.” This is particularly true when it comes to employment opportunities. When an opportunity is there, you go for it, because it might not be there tomorrow.

If you feel that you understand an employer’s needs and have a solution to offer, by all means, make the sale during the Needs Analysis meeting. That being said, be very careful not to over-promise and under-deliver.

There are a number of factors to consider in matching the right client to the right job. It’s better to take some time to make sure you can confidently recommend someone than to rush a situation that is unlikely to be successful.

Observations & Adaptations for Refugee Employment

Refugee employment programs using the Consultative Selling approach say that the Needs Analysis is one the most helpful elements of the model, but have the following recommendations:

The whole process needs to move faster.

Consultative Selling is a strong model for building long-term relationships with employers but doesn’t necessarily emphasize the speed at which this happens. Newly arrived refugees must obtain employment very quickly, so finding ways to speed up the process is critical.

James LopezAfter working with the Consultative Selling model for a couple years, James Lopez, Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO, recommends being more conversational and less scripted as way to speed up the process during the Needs Analysis.

It’s good to be organized and ask good questions, but you also want the conversation to feel natural, and even enjoyable, to that employer. It’s important to build rapport as quickly as possible.

James also recommends finding creative ways to break into local employer networks beyond your meetings with hiring decision makers. Attending networking groups, setting up speaking engagements and leveraging your personal network can result in personal connections that become “champions” for refugees within local companies.

Refugee employment staff in other parts of the country who have recently begun implementing the Consultative Selling model are coming to similar conclusions:

Valerie EvansValerie Evans, RSSP Coordinator at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County in Syracuse, NY shares the experience her team as they’ve begun working with this model:

“We’ve incorporated the Needs Analysis into our meetings, but we’ve found employers need a quicker process. We’ve found that many employers are not willing to spend a whole hour in a Needs Analysis meeting.

Valerie also says that employers have responded well to a condensed Needs Analysis meeting with focused questions that quickly identify needs, such as “What are the top 3 things you look for in employees?” or “What are the top 3 things that will get you fired?”

While the primary focus of the Needs Analysis is the employer, providing some education and context on refugees is helpful.

The Consultative Selling approach is a shift for many refugee employment programs, but there are some things that we’ve done for a long time that we should continue to do.

One of these long-time strategies is providing employers with a basic orientation to refugees either verbally or through a well-designed brochure. The Needs Analysis meeting is a good opportunity to do this.

Brochure-Photo

It may be strategic to share this information towards the end of the Needs Analysis meeting since some of the information you will share will be the selling points of working with refugees (e.g. legal status, retention rates, work ethic, etc.).

Perhaps you can use this information to transition to selling, whether you make the sale in the Needs Analysis meeting or at a later time.

Needs Analysis Tips

Here are a few more tips from James Lopez at LFSRM to keep in mind when conducting Needs Analysis meetings:

  • Focus on the “Three P’s”: Process, Policies, and Personal Relationship – Your success depends on the employer trusting you.
  • Use intelligent questions to keep the conversation on track and keep it focused on employer needs.
  • Avoid asking “why” questions – these can give the impression that you are criticizing and can make employers defensive.
  • End the conversation with action steps – come to an agreement with the employer about what you will do next and what the timeline will look like.
  • Remember that it often takes between 5-7 points of contact before an employer hires someone. Be prepared to have several conversations, and make sure that you are confident before presenting a solution to the employer. Don’t feel bad about asking more questions or getting clarification on things after the initial Needs Analysis appointment.
  • Remember to take a consultative approach: You’re not just selling employers on your clients, but you are also selling them on the supportive services that you can offer both before and after they hire your clients.

 We hope that this post has been helpful for you. Keep us posted as you experiment with Needs Analysis meetings and perfect your technique: information@higheradvantage.org.

*Many thanks to Allen Anderson of DTG-EMP, James Lopez at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO, and Valerie Evans at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County in Syracuse, NY. Their valuable insights made this post possible.

 

 

 

Employers Not Responding To Your Emails? Here’s a Tool That Will Help!

Guest Post by James Lopez

Email Black HoleEmail, for a Job Developer, is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it works like a charm. Other times it feels like a waste of time because no matter how many prospecting emails you send out, none ever return.

Fortunately, because of the digital age that we live in there are resources and tools out there to better improve your emails, resulting in higher response rates and better relationships with employers.

 

CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are tools designed to help salespeople develop better customer relationships. There are many different types of CRM software but anything that can collect or track customer relationships is defined under this term.

CRM Systems can be used to:

  • Track when and how often a customer or prospect is interacting with messaging
  • Help create better marketing messages by identifying successful key phrases
  • Increase email response rates
  • Ensure that you are keeping in constant contact with customers or prospects
  • Help you use your time more efficiently

Using CRM Software for Job Development

CRMs offer a multitude of tracking and organizing strategies to make job development and outreach easier and more efficient.

CRMs allow you to see, in real time, the actions of potential employers and how they respond to your “cold” emails. Imagine after sending an email being able to see when a new employer clicks on your email to read it. Imagine being able to use that data to know what phrases are most effective in getting a response from a potential employer.

According to HubSpot, a top rated CRM company, “a recent study found that the average response rate of cold emails is 1.7%.”

With such limited time, it is important to identify tools that will help maximize your effectiveness and increase the chance that employers will read and respond to your emails.

Using CRM software to improve your email

Sidekick by HubSpot is a free CRM extension you can add to your email (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc) that will track real time openings of emails and total views. Instead of blindly sending out an email, Sidekick will notify you if and when someone opens your email, the total number of views, and give you a contact card with a potential employer’s social media accounts and websites associated with their email.

sidekick_02-100612054-large.idge

Here are some ways that Sidekick will help you maximize your efficiency:

  • Write effective emails that people will actually open
  • Write more personalized emails that sound less like sales and more like a conversation starter
  • Keep in better contact with potential prospects
  • Help identify other potential employers via social media connections and professional groups
  • Create follow up requests immediately after you see a prospect open your email by sending another email

What I learned from using Sidekick

As a Job Developer, I am constantly sending out emails to potential employers. Before, I would send out long detailed emails that would explain who we were and what our program did. These emails would receive very low response rates and I had no idea what was turning people off to opening or reading my emails.

By using the Sidekick tool I started to track the open rates of my emails based on different subject lines, content, and action steps. What I found out was that employers prefer shorter emails (less than 200 words) that acknowledge the open position and set up specific days and times to meet as well as expectations of the meeting.

Additionally, I noticed that subject lines that require action like “Open Position at your Warehouse, Let’s Fill It ASAP together!” are much more effective in opening the conversation and getting potential employers to open your emails. Now, I have a 30% higher open rate and a 40% higher response rate that has led to a significant increase in my employer portfolio.

Check out the Sidekick tool here to see if it might be helpful in your Job Development efforts!

James LopezJames Lopez is a Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO. James’ expertise includes helping refugees obtain employment in rural/suburban areas, integrating technology into Job Development work, and using the Consultative Selling approach to build long-term employer relationships. You can reach James at james.lopez@lfsrm.org.

Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers

Source: http://allstarluxury.com

Source: http://allstarluxury.com

Welcome to the second post in our series featuring some of the tools, resources and programs available in the mainstream workforce system, shaped by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and delivered through the national network of American Job Centers serving all U.S. job seekers.

It’s a complex, resource-rich system underutilized in refugee employment services. Higher is determined to change that so our clients benefit from new opportunities and employment services.

We’ll do the research you don’t have time for amidst managing client case loads and employer relationships.  You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

In our first post we highlighted The Department of Labor, Education and Training Agency’s Industry Competency Models, which provide detailed information as well as easy to understand visuals explaining the skills needed to advance in a variety of industries.

In this post, we’ll share another online resource that will give you valuable information about a variety of industries and help you identify local employers to target in your job development efforts.

Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers

The “Explore Careers” section of Careeronestop.org, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers several online tools including career profiles, detailed industry information, and occupation comparisons.

Explore Careers 2

Several useful tools for job development can be found on the “What’s hot” page under the “Learn about careers” category (see photo above). In this section you can run several reports including:

Using These Tools to Discover Prospective Employers and Pathways for Your Clients

One of the most helpful features of these reports is that they allow you to filter the results by education level (some high school up to master’s degree or higher). This feature can be used to find opportunities based on client’s education/skill level or to show clients the education that will be necessary to obtain to accomplish their career goals.

Select Education Level

Once you select which type of trends you want to see and the education level, you will get a list of occupations, which you can filter by state. This will give you a general idea of what industries might be worth pursuing in your region. Here’s an example of the Top 25 Fastest Growing Occupations from the state of Ohio for job seekers with an education level of “some high school”:

Occupations

How You Can Find Thousands of Employers to Target!

From the list of occupations (above) you can click on the links to see Occupation Profiles which will give descriptions of the occupations and highlight national and state trends. To find actual employers to contact go to the dropdown menu in the top right hand corner and choose “Business Finder” which will redirect you to another page where you can search for businesses by occupation and city.

So let’s say you want to search for construction laborers in Columbus, OH. Here’s what you get:

Construction Laborers

4,021 employers to add to your prospecting list!

Do you need to expand your employer network and create some new opportunities for your clients? There is no better way to go about accomplishing this goal than to identify local industries that are growing, need people, and offer jobs that fit your clients’ skills and/or educational backgrounds.

This tool is a great place to start!

Your Top 10 Interview Prep Best Practices

10 Interview Preparation Best Practices10 Interview Preparation Best Practices is a visual collection of your tips, tricks, and best practices for providing clients with the skills they need to successfully interview for employment.

This is the second of five resource sheets from speed dating”, where 120 refugee employment service providers at our Second Annual Refugee Employment  split into small groups and spent 10 minutes discussing each of five topics.

Be sure to download the complete set of notes here. There’s so much great information it was hard to know where to start!

Looking for more interview preparation resources? Through Higher’s Online Learning Institute, we offer several free eLearning modules that you and your clients can access. Consider showing one in job readiness class or one-on-one with clients. Interview Behavior Videos or How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions are great resources to check out.

We have several other resources in the works, so be sure to check back often. As always, please let us know your ideas for other resources to make your jobs easier.

A Holiday Gift for You and Employer Partners

Higher_holiday_card_2014_v3 UnusedSaying thank you. An easy holiday job development strategy.

No matter how you celebrate, the holidays are a busy time for us and for employer partners.  Higher created this eCard we can all use in a quick thank you email to employers who do much more than “just” hire a refugee.

Showing appreciation for your employer partners doesn’t have to take alot of your time or cost any money.

You can do it in three easy steps:

  1. Click here to download a high resolution jpeg format image.
  2. Add your agency logo and message to an email.
  3. Hit send.  (Don’t forget to copy Higher, please.)

Sleep and Self Care. Both Important for Our Work.

Cross-cultural communication. Driving all over the place. Difficult conversations with employers. Frantic calls from clients. Training clients on public transportation. Long meetings. Cold-calling. Working in refugee employment is rewarding AND exhausting!

Most of the time we look to techniques, best-practices and strategies to make us successful in our work, but we often forget about the importance of self-care. If we burn out, our clients won’t get the services they deserve.

Effective self-care requires discipline and means forming new habits. Developing a new rhythm won’t happen overnight. But one thing that can happen overnight is you getting enough sleep! Here’s a video from Fast Company to inspire you to take this first small step towards being healthier and more productive at work.

Start with this “baby step” and then spend some time exploring other self-care strategies. The University of Buffalo’s School of Social Work has developed a “Self-Care Starter Kit” that provides many helpful suggestions and resources.

Immigrant Integration Report

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While much of our work focuses on the immediate survival and basic self-sufficiency of refugee families, the importance of long-term immigrant integration cannot be understated.

A new report, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, takes a very thorough look (400+ pages!) at the issue of integration, and has found that despite the many challenges of integration, the overall picture is positive.

You can download a PDF version of the full report for free. Or, if you’re like most of us, and don’t anticipate having the time to read a 400 page report anytime soon, here is a quick overview of the report’s findings from a recent New York Times article:

 

  • The newest generations of immigrants are assimilating into American society as fast and broadly as the previous ones, with their integration increasing over time “across all measurable outcomes.”
  • The desire on the part of immigrants to learn English is very high and immigrants are acquiring English proficiency as rapidly or faster now than earlier waves of mainly European immigrants in the 20th century.
  • Immigrants’ education levels, the diversity of their jobs, their wages and their mastery of English improved as they lived for more time in the United States, and the gains were even greater for their American-born children.
  • About 50 percent of the foreign-born say they speak English “very well” or “well,” and almost one quarter of immigrants have college degrees.
  • The study found that first generation immigrant men ages 18 to 39 were incarcerated at about one-fourth the rate of American men in that group. Additionally, cities and neighborhoods with greater concentrations of immigrants have much lower rates of crime and violence than similar places without immigrants.

While studies like these are interesting from a sociological perspective, they can also provide useful talking points for those times when you need to be just a little more persuasive to win over a hesitant employer.

 

 

 

 

New Research Identifies Essential Steps for Skilled Immigrants’ Success

cover_steps_for_success_195x250Last December, we informed our readers that World Education Services (WES) and IMPRINT were conducting a survey of college-educated immigrants in 6 U.S. cities (Boston, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, San Jose and Seattle) and we encouraged you to invite clients to participate. The results are out in Steps to Success: Integrating Immigrant Professionals in the United States.

Based on more than 4,000 responses from college-educated immigrants in the U.S., the report identifies factors that correlate with their successful integration into American life and offers recommendations for communities to better integrate these skilled workers, and take advantage of their many talents.

To give you a brief preview, here are a few of the key findings of the report:

1. Social capital is powerful: The survey showed that there is a remarkably strong correlation between the size of an immigrant’s social network and his or her likelihood of success.

2. English really matters: Across the board, stronger English language skills were correlated with virtually every possible measure of immigrant success.

3. Immigrants take enterprising approaches: Numerous self-improvement strategies were reported, including academic credential evaluation, English language classes, and additional education in the United States.

Take advantage of this cutting edge information as you develop strategies to help highly skilled clients succeed!

 

It’s Time to Think about Income Taxes?

taxesIt’s time to think about income taxes.   Never thought you’d agree with this statement, right?

Taxes.  Hard to explain.  Harder to understand. There’s never a good time to talk to refugees about why taxes are so important.

Many of our clients can get sizable tax returns, especially if they go to a Community Tax Center for tax preparation services.  Staffed by volunteers, Community Tax Centers mission is to put money into the pockets of low income tax payers and into the economies of their communities.

Scammers and predatory commercial tax preparers start marketing their services early.  A savvy former client and proud U.S. citizen told me he paid someone “only $250” to get an early advance on his tax return at a very low interest rate. The next year, my colleagues at several refugee service agencies partnered with a community tax center to make sure that didn’t happen again. It was a lot of work to organize, but we were really glad we did it.

Fall is a busy time, even without the arrival surge.  If you begin planning now, you can fit this really important client service into your workloads in time to make a difference for client budgets and family self-sufficiency.

Here are five ideas to consider:

  1. Start telling clients about tax filing now so they don’t make important decisions before they know all the facts.
  2. Consider partnering with a Community Tax Center in your area.  Start discussing agency plans and contact community partners early.
  3. Get a jump on translating announcements about whatever you decide to do NOW, so they’re ready in time for the word to spread.
  4. Don’t forget employers. They might offer employee assistance already or be thrilled to partner with you to host an information session.
  5. Explore the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This program offers free tax help to low-to-moderate income people who cannot prepare their own taxes. Refugee service organizations can partner with already establish VITA sites or even become an official VITA site.

For more on this topic check out Higher’s post from earlier this year: Tax Season: Resources and Talking Points.

As always, we’d love to hear your success stories about how you’ve assisted refugees with tax-related issues. Email us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Looking for Arabic Language Job Readiness Resources?

Source: http://www.accuform.com/safety-sign/caution-eye-protection-required-wgraphic-MTAA605

Source: www.accuform.com

In case you didn’t know, YOU are our greatest resource! After receiving several requests for Arabic language resources, we put out a call for resources earlier this month, and sure enough, our network responded.

Our friends Ali Abid and Brittani Mcleod from Catholic Community Services of Utah submitted a helpful English/Arabic version of the Walmart job interview, and Carol Tucker from Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska provided us with several other Arabic/English Job Readiness materials.

Visit our Downloadable Resources section to check out these great resources! You may also want to check out a post we published in 2014 that links to picture vocabulary guides in several languages, including Arabic.

As we continue to serve Iraqi refugees and SIV recipients and anticipate increasing numbers of Syrian arrivals, these resources will continue to be a “must have” for your Cultural Orientation and Job Readiness tool box. If you have other Arabic language resources that you would like to share please email us at information@higheradvantage.org.