Understanding and Benefiting from Corporate Volunteering

Volunteers are an extremely useful resource to expand support services for refugees. They bring insight to U.S. culture and systems, access to networks for early employment opportunities and career advancement, and time and resources to support refugees. Successful volunteer engagement builds an agency’s capacity to serve clients. Traditional volunteerism engages individuals and small groups in mentoring, teaching, setting up apartments, and more! In addition, volunteers often serve as the best program advocates and donors because of their unique connection to refugee resettlement work. To broaden volunteerism, agencies may choose to engage businesses and employers in volunteer opportunities.

Corporate volunteering is when a company partners with a nonprofit to provide volunteers for the organization, often with paid time off or other incentives for their employee volunteers. Corporate volunteering can offer a lot of benefits, not only to resettlement programs, but to the companies themselves. Corporations benefit from volunteering through increased staff morale, staff team building, and being more visible in their communities. Resettlement agencies benefit by being able to tap into a group of organized fully vetted volunteers.    There are also strong links between corporate volunteering and corporate giving.

How to Use Corporate Volunteering

Corporations can provide on-site volunteers in all the traditional ways, or they could provide volunteers from a distance by doing things remotely like:

  • Serve as one-on-one ESL conversation partners with refugees over Skype
  • Provide industry specific employment strategies or insight
  • Teach job readiness classes
  • Facilitate mock interviews
  • Organize fundraisers or collection drives
  • Create “kits” of donated items for arriving refugees
  • Banks could provide free checking accounts and assist financial literacy classes on managing money and using a bank account
  • Career mentors or career visit days for refugee youth at the corporate site

Corporate volunteering is a great way to include local businesses into your organization’s mission while simultaneously providing services to your clients. Be sure to be prepared with opportunities and information on how to best work together before seeking new partnerships.

For more information on employment specific corporate volunteering, read Higher’s previous post.

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A Farewell Message from Higher

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has provided technical assistance (TA) on refugee employment through funding by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) since 1997. As ORR redesigns its approach to TA provision and closes out the current TA grants (September 29, 2018), we wanted to say that it has been our privilege and our pleasure to provide services to the dynamic and passionate network of refugee employment staff.

We would like to thank the entire network for your thoughtful contributions, questions, and guest blog posts over the past 20 years. Higher was enriched each day by the talent, intelligence, and leadership exhibited by staff in the field, and we trust that this inspiration – and Higher’s legacy of excellence – will live on in communities across the country.

Higher began in 1997 as RefugeeWorks. In 2012, the Higher name was adopted as we increased our partnerships with employers in light of their vital role in ensuring the successful economic integration of newcomers. At the same time, LIRS created the Higher blog, dedicated to critical refugee employment topics. Today the blog has 4,591 total subscribers and our e-newsletter has 3,691.

The excellent Higher tools will remain available on the LIRS website at LIRS.org/higher. There you will find an extensive library of videos, webinars, e-learning courses, blog posts, and other resources. We hope employment staff will continue to access and use these materials. These resources will also be made available on the website of the new ORR funded TA provider.

LIRS will continue to grow our work in economic empowerment for newcomers. We are currently expanding our direct work with employers—helping them create on-site programming for refugees and immigrant staff (including ESL and financial literacy), adopt policies that promote diversity, inclusion, and employee retention, and create bridges between employers and local community resources for newcomers. In addition to our work with employers, we remain committed to finding ways to support refugee employment field staff as well as refugees themselves as they continue integrating into their communities.

Thank you for your hard work, contributions, and support. We wish you the best of luck on your onward journey to provide refugee employment services.

Sincerely,

LIRS and the Higher Team

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Don’t forget Higher’s Webinars!

Each year Higher develops professional webinars for the field of refugee employment. Each webinar reflects a theme trending in refugee employment. Check out the “Resources” section of our website to access the recordings. Below are links to webinars from Fiscal Year 2018, which cover how to design and measure a career advancement program, utilizing labor market information to maximize your job development, and case management efforts.

  1. Higher Presents: How to Design and Measure a Successful Career Advancement Programwas presented on June 26, 2018. This webinar features guest speakers from USCRI of North Carolina and ORR’s technical assistance provider for monitoring and evaluation, (IRC’s META).

 

  1. Higher Presents: A Guide to Labor Market Information for Refugee Employmentpresented March 27, 2018. Higher announces the publication of the guide to Labor Market Information (LMI) and how it can be used to maximize employment outcomes. Listen to the recorded webinar on LMI and the official release of the LMI guidebook. This includes a discussion with a refugee employment manager who reviewed and implemented the Higher LMI guide in the field and a Bureau of Labor Statistics LMI state representative from the State of Maryland.

 

Past webinars can be found, free to all, on Higher’s Online Learning Institute. Once you register with a username and password, you will have access to webinars, publications, and 16 online learning modules to further your professional development.

Would you or your office like to receive additional training from Higher? Please write to us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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The Merits of a Skill-Based Resume for Refugee Clients

Recently, Higher has received many inquiries about how to write resumes for refugees with significant gaps in employment. In addition to the traditional chronological resume, there is an alternative method for producing professional resumes with clients.

A functional skill-based resume focuses on skills and experience, rather than on chronological work history. It is typically used by job seekers who are changing careers, have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job. This type of resume de-emphasizes employment information and allows a candidate to show the most relevant skills and abilities without bringing attention to employment gaps, frequent job changes, terminations, or an atypical professional background.

It is important to note that because many employers are accustomed to the traditional chronological resume, some employers are not as familiar with the format of a functional resume. However, for many refugees, a skill-based resume may be the best option and a successful way for a client to find employment. Be sure to notify employers about the merits of this type of resume for your clientele, the more skill-based resumes an employer sees from your clients the more acclimatized they will become to this type of resume.  As a client gains more experience in the U.S., the resume can be adapted into a more traditional model.

How Should a Skill-Based Resume Be Formatted?

To determine the best way to format a skill-based resume, first consider the main requirements listed in the job description. The objective is to arrange the resume in an accessible way that highlights the applicant’s attributes.

Example 1 (see below) illustrates a typical skill-based approach. It includes multiple skills sections with bulleted examples that prove competencies for each respective skill. Notice that employment details, such as the job title, company name, location, and dates of employment, are not included in these sections. As in a regular resume, try to add as much detail as possible for each bullet.

After the skills section, draft a brief work history section more commonly referred to as a professional profile section (see Example 2: Nancy Confidential). No bullet points are necessary in this section; only include the company name, job title, employment dates, and the city and state of the organization. Include volunteer positions (see Example 3), internships, or other relevant experience in this section, but remember that everything listed needs professional value. The skill-based resume highlights clients’ strengths until they gain work experience in the U.S.

                         (Example 3)

 

Do you create skill-based resumes for your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Do your clients have 21st Century literacy skills needed for today’s workforce?

“The driving force for the 21st century is the intellectual capital of citizens,” the Metiri Group Twenty-First Century Skills.

The term “21st-century skills” is generally used to refer to certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving that advocates believe adults need to know in order to thrive in today’s world.

As technology expands and society shifts, literacy expands to include much more than reading and writing. Information and communication technologies are raising the bar on the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century. Technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, demanding that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies. These literacies are multiple, dynamic, and malleable.

Refugees seeking for job upgrades and forging career pathways should consider their competency in these 21st century skills in their planning.

Digital-age literacy encompasses:

  • Basic literacy: The ability to read, write, listen and speak as well as to compute numbers and solve problems
  • Scientific literacy: A general knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes
  • Economic literacy: An understanding of basic economic concepts, personal finance, the roles of small and large businesses, and how economic issues affect them as consumers and citizens
  • Technological literacy: An understanding about technology and how it can be used to achieve a specific purpose or goal
  • Visual literacy: Visualization skills and the ability to understand, use, and create images and video using both conventional and new media
  • Information literacy: The ability to find, access, and use information as well as the ability to evaluate the credibility of the information
  • Cultural literacy: The ability to value diversity, to exhibit sensitivity to cultural issues, and to interact and communicate with diverse cultural groups
  • Global awareness: An understanding of how nations, individuals, groups, and economies are interconnected and how they relate to each other

Refugee clients have both advantages and disadvantages in accessing these literacies. For example, refugees are versed in more than one culture and interact cross-culturally based on their forced migration. However, they may not have had opportunities to increase their information or computer literacy. Introducing computers in job readiness classes or referring clients to basic computer classes are some ways to grow refugees’ 21st century literacy skills. Using volunteers and donations, resettlement agencies can seek computers to set up volunteer taught computer labs or to give directly to clients as a way to provide digital literacy.

Do you work with employers who value 21st Century Skills? How do you introduce 21st century skills to your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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META Needs Your Feedback

Guest Post

Please take this short survey to help the Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance (META) Project improve its services and resources! The survey will require approximately 10 minutes to complete.

The META Project is designed to strengthen the capacity of ORR-funded refugee service providers to collect, manage, analyze and use data to make informed decisions that will improve services and results for resettled refugees and other populations of concern in the U.S. The META Project’s design includes an annual external evaluation to help ORR and the META team understand the extent to which the project has been effective in achieving its intended outcomes; the quality and usefulness of different program components (individualized technical assistance, online learning resources, active learning opportunities, etc.); and how M&E TA could be improved. This survey is part of that evaluation.

This survey is intended for US-based, ORR-funded organizations. It is not intended for individuals seeking refugee status or organizations working with displaced populations outside the US.

For more information about META, visit www.METASupport.org or email META@Rescue.org.

Click Here to take the survey

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Classifying Refugees as Dislocated Workers under WIOA

Today’s blog explores leveraging federal funding available for “dislocated workers” to support refugee career pathways.

What is WIOA

Under federal legislation called Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), the Department of Labor brought together all of its agencies and programs in one-stop career service centers, American Job Centers, to assist any youth or adult in the US who is unemployed or underemployed. WIOA programs and activities are available to citizens and nationals of the United States, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, refugees, asylees, and parolees, and other immigrants authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to work in the United States. WIOA also includes the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs, providing participants with career services and training, such as resume assistance, job search assistance, career counseling, and supportive services like child care or transportation assistance. A complete description of these services is in the WIOA regulations Training and Employment Guidance Letter 03-15.

Refugees as Dislocated Workers

Read the federal definition of dislocated workers in the box to the left. In March 2017, the US Department of Labor stated that individual states may change their definition of dislocated workers within their WIOA state plans to include individuals whose job dislocation occurred outside the US.  For example, the state of Maryland amended its definition of dislocated workers in 2016 to include refugees. Thus, in Maryland, refugees can now self-attest the date and location of their dislocation. Contact your state’s Workforce Development Boards (WDB) to discover the benefits dislocated workers have in your state and if your state includes refugees in its definition of a dislocated worker.

How the State of Idaho Identifies Refugees as Dislocated workers

In Idaho, Global Talent Idaho works with WIOA staff in determining client’s eligibility and classify refugees as dislocated workers. Refugees who do not have the usual documentation (a letter signifying a layoff) for enrollment as a dislocated worker are assigned to a career planner to provide a registrant statement documenting the date of dislocation and reasons for the lack of the usual documentation.

To learn more about Idaho’s process, please read their Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act Technical Assistance Guide: Adult and Dislocated Worker Eligibility.

The states that currently define refugees as Dislocated Workers, include:

For more information

For a list of WIOA programs nearest you, contact an American Jobs Center, Career One Stop or call ETA’s toll-free helpline at (877) US-2JOBS (TTY: 1-877-889-5267). Services are designed to meet local needs and may vary from state to state. Services for dislocated workers have eligibility requirements. Check with your State Dislocated Worker Unit for details.

To learn more about WIOA see Higher’s previous resources:

Webinar

Collaborating with Mainstream Workforce Development and Taking Advantage of WIOA-funded Training Opportunities

Blogs

WIOA Youth Program Updates and Resources

Resource Post: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Plans

Workforce Collaboration Case Study: Connecting Refugees to WIOA-Funded Programs in Omaha

Bridging Access to Mainstream Workforce Resources: Rockford, Illinois

5 Easy First Steps to WIOA Opportunities

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Refugees Make Great Employees: New Report Surveys 100 Employers on Working with Refugees

The Tent Foundation and the Fiscal Policy Institute have published a new research study entitled, REFUGEES AS EMPLOYEES, Good Retention, Strong Recruitment. Read it here.

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Resume Writing for Advanced Positions

Often Higher is asked for guidance on how to help clients prepare a more advanced resume. Outlined in the section below are some of the best rules and advice on how to build a professional U.S. style resume.

The Rules

  • 1-page rule: In the US, job seekers must stick to the one-page rule unless they have a master’s degree or higher; then a resume can be two pages.
  • Get the order right: Move backward in time, starting with the most recent job in each section.
  • 10-year rule: Never recount more than 10 years of employment history.
  • Equal bullets rule: Under every position, there should be the same amount of bulleted information and job duties.
  • Education: Spell out the degree so it will stand out. It is not necessary to include a GPA or GMAT score. Do not list courses. Do list any leadership roles and study abroad experiences.
  • Font rule: Keep the entire document in the same font, and only the name should be in larger font. Use a standard font (Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica), so it reads the same on any computer or printer.
  • Avoid the objective: Many people like to start their resume with an objective outlining their purpose. However, every applicant has a similar objective; as they are all seeking employment. Express the objective in a cover letter, and keep the resume for professional and educational history.
  • Addressing Gaps: Use cover letters to briefly and directly address the gap in the career, particularly for refugees who have experienced long periods of time where they were unable to work. For example, “I am returning to the workforce after a period of raising children/living as a refugee.” Then address the strengths, qualifications, and goals. Emphasize the job seeker’s excitement and preparedness to re-enter the workforce now. If the gap is over 7 years or a refugee prefers not to address the time gap, it may be time to consider a skill based resume which will be tackled in a subsequent Higher blog.
  • Creativity rule: Create a new version of a resume for every job opportunity. Similar to a cover letter, a resume should be tailored to a job description
  • Finally, don’t forget to have a friend or colleague help edit and proofread. An outside perspective is most helpful in selecting what is most relevant to each job.

What are some rules or content guidelines that you use when writing advanced resumes? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Check out Higher’s past blogs for more information on Resume Strategies, Entry-Level Resumes or Cover Letters.

 

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Webinar Reminder: How to Design and Measure a Successful Career Advancement Program

Higher is pleased to announce an upcoming webinar on designing and measuring career advancement programs, in collaboration with the Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance project of the International Rescue Committee.

Career advancement programs provide needed structure to refugees for career progression, helping them to make a plan for gaining the skills needed to increase their career options.

Many refugee resettlement agencies have existing services and support from community partners to enable them to provide career advancement programming. In this webinar, experts will walk participants through each piece of an employment program and offer guidance on how to better serve clients on their career advancement journey.

Participants will be able to understand the building blocks of successful career advancement programs as well as how to use data to demonstrate the impact of career advancement on clients, communities, and economies. The webinar will highlight a program in North Carolina that successfully transitioned to a job upgrade program. Additionally, Higher chose to collaborate with META, the data experts, in order to demonstrate how to measure your progress and determine the effect of this programming on clients.

Presenters:

Hannah Parkin, Case Manager and Job Developer with USCRI’s North Carolina Field Office

Meg Gibbon, Program Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance (META)

When:

Tuesday, June 26th from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST

Please click here to register and join us for this exciting webinar.

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