Are “Small Site” Strategies Different?

smalltownAll of the same strategies and best practices apply, no matter the size of your community or the number of clients you resettle each year.  The difference is in the details.

While preparing for a workshop recently, I worried that my experience in a larger site (Austin, TX) wouldn’t be relevant. I wanted to be sure that trends and proven approaches Higher sees across the national network were relevant for small sites, too. They absolutely are. In fact, I learned a ton of great ideas and strategies that everyone can use.

5 Things to Learn from Small Resettlement Sites

1.  Appreciate the benefits of more personalized service.   With small client numbers, you often have the luxury of spending more one-on-one time with clients. That allows for a strong and deep level of trust and customized placement and case management.

2. Reputation and word of mouth is even more important.  In smaller communities, news and speculation about misssteps AND successes travels fast.  Look for opportunities to reach out to community groups like Rotary Clubs or Chambers of Commerce.

3.  Build employer relationships without a client placement.  It’s more likely that you will not have a client with the skill set to fill every placement opportunity you identify.  Create meaningful ways for employers to interact with clients and understand what you do so you have a strong connection when you DO have a great candidate down the road.  Mock interviews and an open house featuring city council members both worked well for IRC Wichita, KS.

4.  Keeping in touch regularly is even more important.  Media mentions, well-timed drop-in visits or quick phone calls keep the opportunities you offer employers fresh in their mind.

5.  Invest in volunteer recruitment and relationships.  Small resettlment numbers means smaller staff.  Volunteers make it possible to do more AND increase community ties and visibility at the same time.

\What exactly does “Small Site” mean in this post?

I focused on small cities rather than rural areas and programs that served less than 100 clients per year or had recently grown beyond that number.

Thanks to several people who talked to me about their strategies and experiences.   Special thanks to Shannon Branson, Employment Specialist with IRC in Wichita, KS, who spent an hour sharing her examples via skype at Higher’s recent 2 day training with Louisiana resettlement agencies.





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