Search Results for: Employer Appreciation

How to Put On A Successful Employer Appreciation Event

IRC Baltimore Spring 2014 Employer Appreciation Luncheon

A packed house: Some of the attendees at IRC Baltimore’s Spring 2014 Employer Appreciation Luncheon.

Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Employment partners are no different.

Employer Appreciation Events are a great way to say thanks. They can also deliver new employer connections and strengthen existing partnerships.

Read tips and results from IRC Baltimore’s fifth annual event held earlier this year. Thanks to Christina Caspersen, Match Grant Employment Specialist, for inviting Higher and sharing her expertise.

“Since the luncheon, we have had meetings with five new employers; had eight job interview, six hires and several job leads we would not have had without connecting with these employers. Bottom line…it IS worth it.”

Employer Knowledge Gives an Edge: Employment partners are among your strongest advocates and advertisements. Asking their advice strengthens the event and demonstrates that your program is customized to meet their needs. “This year’s event was the first to benefit from a newly formed Employer Advisory Board, the first of its kind for IRC US Programs. We want to work more closely with hospitals and assisted care facilities, so a board member suggested inviting someone from the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare. I didn’t even know that organization existed. Members also suggested how to reach out to communities where our clients live, but where they have been unable to break into the local job market.”

Timing is Critical: Organizing a successful event on top of existing workloads can be daunting if you don’t plan well (and get invites out in a timely manner). Timing is important, too. Keep the audience in mind when picking a date. “Spring was perfect timing. We used to have our event in February. Now, instead of saying, liked your presentation, give me a call in the spring, employers said, great presentation, let’s set up a meeting next week.”

Send Invitations Early and Often: Higher received a postcard invitation in the mail almost two months in advance followed by a personal follow-up email. “This year we heard from a lot of people that they never received our postcard, so we will likely switch to all electronic communication next year. We believe that the best way to reach people is email followed by a personal phone call. We keep an invitation and guest list from each year so we can compare and be sure to invite people again who couldn’t attend the previous year.”

Logistical Details: IRC offered lunch from a local immigrant-owned restaurant and held the event in a meeting room at the public library across the street. They used colorful table cloths from refugee countries of origin and had IRC promotional materials on each table. The atmosphere was welcoming, informal and celebratory.We have a strong support base in our office. Our staff fully support our luncheon (as they know the benefits of the event) and assist with set up, clean up and representing IRC with our guests.”

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Tis the Season: Three Easy Ideas to Show Employer Appreciation

photo 6Job developers dream about employer appreciation events or award ceremonies.  Those approaches take significant resources and lots of advance planning.

Take advantage of holiday traditions and consider one of these three easy ways to thank employers and deepen their connection to your mission.  At the same time, you can begin gaining experience to help you build up to a larger event in the future.

  1.  Send a holiday email.  Keep it simple and just say thanks and happy holidays.  If you want to get more creative, imbed a picture of your team, agency holiday decorations or clients celebrating the season.  (I still remember an email I received a couple of years ago with a photo of a group of clients and teachers at an ESL class wearing Santa hats and their own traditional clothing.)
  2. Mail cards signed by everyone on your team.  If your agency sends cards, you could link with that process.  You can buy your own holiday cards or use plain paper and sign with holiday colored markers.  It’s likely that your card will be displayed for others to see, so include a visible logo.
  3. For a few of your best employers, consider a personal delivery of holiday treats.  You can bake them yourselves or consider asking volunteers to contribute them.  This requires more resources, so you might want to consider it only for a handful of employers.  Everyone on your team could help with deliveries to make it even easier.
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Showing Appreciation to Employer Partners

Guest post by Ellie White with World Relief Seattle on how to show appreciation and stay connected to employer partners.

Years ago, our team at World Relief Seattle threw an Employer Appreciation Party for our employer partners. We thought it was such a great idea – an opportunity to show our appreciation, connect or reconnect with employers, and find out about new job leads or updates.

We sent out invitations, prepared food, and hung a thank you banner. Our employer partners, however, were either too busy, or uninterested. Only one or two came to the event. We tried again the next year, and got the same response.

We still wanted to appreciate and connect with our employers beyond an email or card, and realized the only way to do so was not to invite them to us, but to go to them!

Ever since, our team has hosted an annual Employer Appreciation Event that involves a visit and a small gift. Our team divides into small groups, armed with thank you mugs or small desk plants, and travels throughout the region visiting our employer partners to say thank you and connect.

This past year, our team visited over 30 employer partners. We chose them based on the amount of interaction our team had with them over the past year, and if we anticipated an ongoing relationship with them. We cannot visit all of our employer partners, therefore we send thank you cards to the employers that we do not visit, but who have recently hired our participants.

We are greeted with smiles, updates, and the opportunity to connect beyond our typical day-to-day correspondence. Some of our employers have had the gifted plants on their desk for years, and have started to expect the annual visit from World Relief with a new thank you gift. Sometimes we learn about current openings that we can take back to our job

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Strengthening Employer Relationships Through Effective Follow-Up

phone-cartoonConsultative Selling for Refugees, Part 4: Follow-up

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 is the final post of our 4-part series on Consultative Selling that looks at the basics of the model, as well as adaptations from refugee employment programs who have begun 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 Road Map.” 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 Roadmap

In part one of this series we looked at Prospecting Strategies for identifying new employment opportunities. Prospecting can include making cold calls, visiting prospective employers or other types of initial outreach to local employers.

In part two, we discussed the Needs Analysis – the meeting where you sit down with an employer and ask them a series of questions in order to discover their important needs. You then use that information to identify clients that will meet a given employer’s needs.

Part three outlined strategies for Selling your solutions to employers.

In this post we’ll look at the final step in the model, Follow-up.

What is Follow-up?

Follow-up is the final stage of the Consultative Selling process. You’ve prospected and found the job opportunity. You’ve conducted a Needs Analysis to find out exactly what the employer needs and wants. You’ve sold them on your services and clients as the right solution. Now it’s time to deliver.

Follow-up is follow-through.

When most refugee employment professionals think of “follow-up”, they think of the job retention requirements of their respective employment programs. For example, following-up with employers and clients at 90 days to see if the client is still working is a common requirement and measure of employment retention.

These traditional follow-up procedures are helpful, but it’s easy to get in the rut of simply “checking the box”, and not think strategically about the intersection between post-employment follow-up and employer engagement.

The Consultative Selling model expands on the traditional approach to follow-up, focusing not just on meeting a requirement, but rather on cultivating long-term relationships with employers.

In Consultative Selling, Follow-up starts with delivering on what you promised (connecting an employer with a candidate who meets their needs and providing ongoing support as needed) and also includes ongoing efforts to keep employers engaged, thus creating opportunities for future business.

Follow-up in this model is about much more than checking a box; it’s about making successful placements that meet retention and result in long-term employer partnerships and ultimately, more job opportunities for our clients.


Delivering on What You Promised

Let’s be honest. As intimidating as job development can be, convincing an employer to hire a refugee is in some ways the easy part- or at least the part you have the most control over. Connecting the right client to the right job and trouble-shooting the challenges that often arise after clients begin working is often much harder.

Getting a job is one thing; keeping it is another.

With all of the challenges that our clients face in adjusting to a brand new culture we will never be able to guarantee that every placement will work out. Our long-time employer partners tend to understand that and have worked with enough refugees that have been amazing employees that an occasional hire who doesn’t work out won’t phase them.

But it’s a different ball-game when you’re working with an employer who is hiring a refugee for the first time. We all know that we need to do everything in our power to make that first placement a success, or that that employer may lose interest in working with us very quickly.

So what can you do to increase the chances of success, both for your clients and for your relationships with employers?

Here’s a few tips:

  • Be careful not to over-promise and under-deliver. During the selling stage (before follow-up) emphasize the breadth of skills that your clients can offer and your supportive services, but don’t sell the employer on specific clients until you are sure that the opportunity will work for the client(s) you have in mind.
  • Once the employer has committed to considering your client(s), ask for a little time to talk to the client(s) that you have in mind and to ensure that you are making the best match– but let the employer set the time frame. You’ve got to use your emotional intelligence to read the situation and know how much time to ask for. Maybe it’s the end of the day, by the next day, or by the end of the week, but the point is you buy yourself some time to double-check all the factors- that the client is able and willing to do the job, that their is a realistic plan for transportation (don’t forget to think about the shift client will be working), and that the job will provide the income required to meet the client’s needs. Taking this little bit of extra time is in the best interest of everyone involved.
  • Encourage the employer to interview a few different clients for the position(s), since they are the best judge of what they need. This will also help the employer be invested in hiring decision, and will minimize the possibility of all the blame being put on you if things don’t work out.
  • Use strategies such as mock interviews and skills tests (formal or otherwise) to predict client performance in interviews or on the job. For example, the Catholic Charities refugee employment program in Cleveland, OH works with some assembly factories, and some employers provide basic materials so that the employment program can identify promising candidates by testing clients on aptitude and speed in assembling materials.
  • When possible, arrange in-person tours of the work area for potential candidates so that clients understand what the job is and what will be required of them (before agreeing to accept the job).
  • Provide easy reference materials for employers that outline the supportive services that you provide and what to do when challenges arise or interpretation is needed. Don’t forget to include all the contact information for your employment program so that they will have your information at their fingertips next time they are ready to hire (and also so that the employer has more than one way to contact your team so that staff turn-over doesn’t result in lost employer connections).

Creating Opportunities for Future Business

Congratulations! You found the job, got to know the employer’s needs, sold them on your solutions, and delivered on what you promised! This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship…hopefully.

What can you do to build on that first placement and keep employers engaged so that next time they need to hire, they think of you?

Yes, you should still do those regular follow-ups! A quick follow-up (within the first week or two) with both employer and client after the initial hire is always a good idea just to quickly catch any problematic issues that may have come to light before they become big problems. And of course the traditional 30, 60, 90 day follow-ups are necessary and good.

But beyond the typical check-ins, here are some strategies that refugee employment programs around the country are using to stay connected to established employer partners while also creating opportunities for new connections:

  •  Job Fairs: Hosting job fairs can be a fantastic way to provide free access to great candidates for employers (the only cost is a couple hours of their time), and also provide an excellent opportunity for clients to build networking and interviewing skills in a safe space where they don’t have to compete with hundreds of other candidates.
  • Happy Hours: Who doesn’t love an invitation to a Happy Hour? IRC Baltimore put this strategy on our radar, and has found it to be a great way to connect with both new and established employer partners. Employers like it because it’s an easy way to stay connected to the IRC, but also a great opportunity to network with others in the community. To read more about this strategy, click here.
  • Employer Appreciation Events: We all like to be recognized. Help employers feel good about hiring refugees. Have an employer appreciation breakfast, lunch or dinner- whatever makes sense. Appreciating employers can be as simple as a thank you card with a Starbucks gift card or as elaborate as a plaque they receive at your annual fundraising banquet. For more employer appreciation ideas click here!
  • The “Candy bowl” Strategy: Provide a candy bowl for the reception area of employers you work with. They get candy. You get a regular excuse to visit them!
  • Get to Know Employer Hiring Trends: Many employer’s hiring seasons and hiring slow-downs are fairly predictable. Ask employers which months tend to be slow and which months they do a lot of hiring. Put notes on your calendar to set up meetings with employers right towards the end of the slow seasons, right before things are going to pick up again. This will show them that you are considerate of their time, and also positions you to be on their radar when it’s time to hire.
  • Go to their stuff! Look for opportunities to participate in community or networking events that your employment partners participate in. Volunteer with an employer partner. Speak at a professional association. Learn about their industry at events open to the public. Participate in your local Workforce Investment Board or Chamber of Commerce. And don’t forget your business cards!

As you can see from the above strategies, although follow-up (delivering on what you promised and creating opportunities for future business) may be the final step in the “4-Step Road Map” it may be more accurate to say that it is the final step in a cycle that resets the job development process, in which you return to prospecting (finding job opportunities) through strengthening relationships with established employer partners and working within those employer networks to make new connections.

What strategies do you use to deliver on what you promised and create opportunities for future business? Let us know at

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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.)
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Another Employer Connection: Landry’s Restaurant Group

Bonni Cutler photo

Bonni Cutler brings experience in corporate recruiting, teaching and student counseling to her work as Employment Supervisor at Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego, which she began in February 2012.

Bonni Cutler, Employment Supervisor with Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego, has hooked us up with a great new employer, Landry’s Inc.  Here’s how you can access jobs now and contribute to development of a national employer partnership as we move forward.

1.  Send a brief email request to so you can receive relevant job openings in your service area. 

Mary Maclachlan, Bonni’s corporate HR contact is responsible for national hourly employee recruiting.  She has requested email contacts for as many refugee employment programs as we can provide.  When Landry’s has job openings to announce in your area, Mary will send you a job opening announcement.

Bonni has already been in touch with many of you via ORR’s Match Grant service provider list.  She has compiled and forwarded the contact information you provided.

If you didn’t provide information to Bonni, feel free to send your contact information and a brief introduction. Don’t forget to say thanks for this great opportunity.   Be respectful of Mary’s time.  She  is accessible, but very busy.  Bonni will continue to work with her to deepen that aspect of the partnership.

2.  Research, craft your initial pitch and make initial contacts with Landry’s stores in your area. 

Landry’s Inc. website has great information about their corporate values, approach to the hospitality industry and the brands and locations in their network.  You might not realize that a restaurant in your area is part of this large corporate group, that has owned and franchised stores.  Use their website to identify locations in your area and plan your initial pitch.

Bonni advises, “each agency should take the opportunity to create a relationship with their local venues one they receive job postings. Mary does not do any hiring at the store level.”  You can also make initial contacts even before you hear about an opening from Mary.

Need help?  Sign up for Higher’s On-line Learning Institute and take our training Communicating with Employers:  Initial Pitches.  It’s free while our limited supply of lifetime usernames and passwords lasts.

3.  Contribute your experience, strategies that work and successful placements with Landry’s Inc. stores. 

We can all develop our own relationships with restaurants in our service areas.  Over time, we can deepen that partnership by providing our corporate contacts with success stories to build their understanding and appreciation of the great staffing solutions and supportive services employers can rely on throughout our network.  Tell Higher about your experience, whether you’re already working with a Landry’s store or begin to build that relationship now.

thanks bonni

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Holiday Outreach Strategy + Holiday Graphic!

Showing appreciation for your employer partners is easier than ever before.

We designed this holiday graphic to provide you with an easy and quick way to send a thank you email to employers and community partners. 

You can do it in three easy steps:

1. Download a high resolution JPEG by right clicking on the below image and selecting “Save As”.

higher-holiday-card 2016

(or Download a PDF here)

2. Add your agency logo and message to an email.

3. Hit send.

Do you have a holiday outreach strategy that works? Please share in the comments below or contact us with the details!  

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Transferable Skills from South Sudan Refugee Camp

Photo credit: Roopa Gogineni from an article by Sandra Zhao, both Nairobi-based.

Photo credit: Roopa Gogineni from an article by Sandra Zhao, both Nairobi-based.

You’ll find valuable refugee employment perspective in profiles of two refugee women entrepreneurs running small cafes in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan published in a recent article in

It’s sadly typical for women refugees to undervalue the marketable skills their previous experience offers in the U.S. job market. This article highlights many relevant skills, including restaurant operations, food preparation and customer service. Building refugee work readiness means helping clients gain confidence and communicate their value to the U.S. workplace.

Read this article to start the week with fresh appreciation for all that refugees offer the U.S. job market. Many of the same “soft skills” U.S. employers value – like resilience, problem-solving and determination – are the same ones honed by their journeys, including life in refugee camps.

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