And are Easy to Add Into the Services You Already Offer
Every client brings different experience, skills and barriers to employment to their new lives in the U.S. There’s broad agreement across our network that adjusting expectations is the most difficult barrier to address.
You probably automatically associate adjusting expectations with unrealistic goals for salary, professional work and standard of living. It’s equally challenging – and maybe even more important – to focus on building client confidence in their ability to contribute and succeed in the U.S. workforce.
Knowing how to customize employment services with these three strategies will improve your placement numbers, boost refugee employability and help you face the arrivals surge with success.
Over time, clients will begin to believe and understand important messages they have heard in multiple settings in different voices. Identify those messages and discuss how to integrate them into several points of contact.
You can repeat strategic messages that all clients need to hear or adjust for specific populations. When several employers complained about betel nut use, we added that into hygiene discussions in job readiness class, in one-on-one client meetings with betel nut users and in job interview practice before bringing clients to the employers who had complained.
Example: “All clients are required to accept the first available job.”
Explain this concept during intake and point out where this requirement is written (like in a MG program agreement). Make sure it is a part of your agency sanctioning policies and explain that clearly. State this requirement during Refugee Cultural Orientation. Ask case managers to repeat the same message during their intake meeting, as well. As you are working with the client on specific job placements, be consistent with this message.
How often have you thought, “this client would do so much better if they’d just do what I tell them”? It may be true, but it’s not consistent with basic human nature. Adults learn best when they experience something directly, rather than being told by someone else.
Maintaining positive, trusting client relationships can be difficult when clients think of you as the one who denied them their dream job or forced them to accept demeaning work. Helping them discover the truth for themselves is more powerful and doesn’t make you look like the bad guy.
Mock interviews, informational interviews with peers, job shadowing or attendance at licensing program orientations can all be useful activities that empower clients and help develop realistic expectations.
Example “I will accept the first appropriate job that utilizes my teaching experience.”
Offer to begin preparing to get a teaching job by practicing common interview questions for a teaching position in the U.S. Ask the teacher to demonstrate how they would respond to a parent angry about the grade their child was given on a test or how they would discuss a behavior problem when parents were called in for a conference. Experienced teachers might feel confident in how to handle these situations, but immediately see that they couldn’t use their expertise without strong English language skills.
Assigning tasks between job readiness classes or one-on-one meetings with you allows you to accomplish many goals at once. Clients need to feel that they’re making progress while waiting to begin working.
Doing a homework assignment demonstrates that they are active and serious about their own responsibility for finding a job. Even clients with very low skills can succeed in the right homework assignment and gain confidence in their own abilities.
Observing customer service behavior, watching for help wanted signs on the bus, completing a job application or asking a neighbor about their job can all be achievable and useful homework assignments.
Example “I will only accept a job that is close to my house.”
Homework assignment: Explore the neighborhoods they believe are close enough to where they live. Identify three businesses they think might have a job for them. Depending on their level of English, they could pick up a card or flyer, ask about current job openings or take a picture on their cell phone. When they bring you information, you can help them follow-up to apply for jobs or have a meeting with a hiring manager. If this results in a job, great. If it doesn’t, you can discuss their experience and the reality of their options.