Although archives from a recent LINCS’ Working with Immigrant Professionals webinar are not yet available, Kelly Rice, Employment Program Manager at the International Center of Kentucky in Bowling Green heard some valuable new ideas and quickly did two things to follow-up.
She started a Skilled Immigrant and Refugee Resources Working Group on Linkedin that you are welcomed to join. She also conbuted this blog post with her take on working with highly skilled refugees.
A job developer’s job is never finished. We are always seeking the best opportunities for our clients, but sometimes they need to get a job quick – what do we do?
Usually, they are placed into an entry-level position until they can find that job upgrade. Many highly skilled or professionally licensed clients are placed in first jobs jobs for which they are over qualified. How do we make it easier for them to find a career path in the same field they pursued before being resettled in the U.S.?
Here are six fundamentals and the strategies I know work from research, webinars and my own experience:
Integrate English language learning with other job readiness preparation
- “Do they speak English” is the question I am asked most often by employers.
- Advanced English classes with contextualized content (possibly online?).
- Integrate English learning with test-taking strategies to assist participants’ career pursuits.
Never underestimate the importance of social capital and social networking
- Employers use social media, A LOT.
- Mentorship program with career professionals.
- Workshops and peer support groups.
- Professional associations, Linkedin.com, meetup.com, Facebook, Twitter.
Offer career coaching and mock interview preparation
- Added benefits in professional understanding and increased confidence levels.
- Mock interviews and feedback sessions (utilizing employer volunteers?).
- Individual career coaching – use employment mentors who are career professionals.
Utilize soft skills and language inventory
- GED Programs, Small Business Entrepreneurship Programs or Economic Empowerment Programs are valuable resources.
- Computer classes are usually available at libraries and career centers.
- Public Libraries, Community Colleges, Private Language Institutes are key resources.
- Resume vs CV, Cover Letter, References.
- Professional Portfolio (showcase their work, projects, articles).
Educate stakeholders about the value of immigrant credentials and the importance of credential evaluation
- Enables educated immigrants and refugees to gain recognition of their credentials and access to opportunities.
- Helps licensing boards, employers, academic institutions understand qualifications earned outside the U.S.
- Larger employers and licensing boards usually have formal processes and/or have a preferred credential evaluation service. Know which one is required before spending any money.
- Many employers are unfamiliar with credential evaluation or skeptical of foreign qualifications – help employers understand the process.
- Refugees need to proactively “market” their evaluation and highlight their US equivalencies to overcome employer concerns.
Help clients consider alternatives to re-licensure
- Non-licensed teachers can work in as teachers in private schools, instructors at community colleges, adult education instructors, corporate trainers, etc. Teachers also have opportunities for alternate routes to certification, including fellowships that allow them to license while working.
- Accountants without a CPA can work in many settings, e.g. bookkeeping, analyzing budgets and costs, etc.
- Healthcare professionals can consider non-regulated occupations such as medical interpretation or positions in administration, research or community health.
- Non-licensed engineers or architects can work in technical, advisory and management positions that can have an important impact on engineering projects.
- Local Technical Colleges can team up to create Certification Programs as an alternative as well.
For example, our local Techical College started a free Certified Production Technician Program. After completing a 12 week course, graduates are guaranteed an interview at an employer in their desired field, which can lead to a significant job upgrade. This is a brand new program. Hopefully by April, we will have good news with some folks who found a great job!
Kelly Rice has a B.S in Finance from Virginia Tech and an HR certificate from Western Kentucky University. She worked at Wells Fargo for 8 years and joined the International Center of Kentucky in Bowling Green as Employment Program Manager in May 2013