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.

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

Self-Sufficiency Series: Solutions from the Field

As part of its Self-Sufficiency Series: Solutions from the Field, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently published a blog post highlighting the women’s sewing class offered by World Relief – Seattle.  To see the post and to learn more about the series, click here.

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.

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.

What Now? Post-High School, College & Career Readiness for Refugee Youth

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 1PM EST

Join BRYCS to gain insight into ways to prepare refugee students for college and career, including involving refugee parents in decision making. Promising Practices among programs serving refugee youth transitioning to adulthood will be shared. Register Today!

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.

New employer partners? Don’t forget about USCIS E-Verify webinars!

Every month, USCIS provides E-Verify webinars for new staff, new employer partners, Human Resource professionals, and others seeking information regarding what E-Verify is and how it works. As refugee employment staff, it is crucial to understand the work authorization process and how to educate employers on how to use and access E-Verify correctly. There are webinars on every step, including I-9 documents, E-Verify overview, employee rights, and more. Check out their September schedule here. For more information on E-Verify, click here.

LSS/NCA Shares Career Advancement Employment Strategies

More often than not, the first job a refugee gets in the U.S. is only temporary, as its main purpose is to start generating income to cover living expenses. Many refugees are eager to return to a previous field or pursue other career opportunities, but there may be obstacles that stand in the way: the need for professional-level English, re-certification of degrees or licenses, and the lack of a professional network, to name a few. In this post, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) shares their two-pronged approach to assisting clients who are ready to embark on their career pathway.

  1. Utilizing Volunteers

Twice a month, a professional career coach volunteers with LSS/NCA to provide highly-skilled clients with training on writing resumes, cover letters, and job applications. LSS/NCA also has a growing list of career mentors with industry-specific expertise to provide staff and refugees with networking and other field-specific guidance. These volunteers utilize their own professional backgrounds to assist clients in navigating their chosen career path.

  1. Partnering With Local Service Providers

To address the barriers clients face when pursuing professional employment, LSS/NCA relies on their close partnerships with other community organizations that specialize in career advancement. One of these partnerships is with Your Edge for Success, a career coaching company that provides personalized career services and professional job seminars.

Connecting with American Job Centers and WIOA training programs provides additional routes for refugees to achieve their long-term goals. LSS/NCA partners with the local workforce development center to regularly provide information sessions featuring panelists from a variety of professions. LSS/NCA also has access to vocational training programs in the medical, accounting, and project management fields.

To provide networking support, LSS/NCA works with Northern Virginia Friends of Refugees, a network of faith communities, NGOs, businesses, and public agencies interested in assisting and connecting with refugees. The organization sponsors an annual networking event for refugees that features guest speakers and field professionals offering advice. Last year, the event drew over 100 refugees and SIVs.

Each of these partnerships build deeper connections between refugees and the local community, while providing critical career support to refugees beyond their initial job placement after arrival.

For more information on LSS/NCA’s employment work, contact Lauren Ressue at ressuel@lssnca.org.

To find training in your area, look at CareerOneStop’s Local Training Finder.

What career advancement opportunities do you provide for your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org!

New Webinar from META! Data Visualization in Excel Made Easy, August 21

Register now for META’s introductory webinar Data Visualization in Excel Made Easy! This beginners-level webinar will be held on August 21, 2018, from 3:00-4:00PM ET. The training is intended for staff in all roles who don’t work with data every day but want to learn basic steps to get started using the tools you already have.

After attending this webinar, you will be able to:
•    Describe the importance of data visualization.
•    Name key steps for visualizing data well.
•    Begin using data visualization to convey common messages.

META also is excited to offer a limited number of one-on-one data visualization consultations! 5 interested ORR-funded organizations will receive customized help to improve their data visualization skills. Using your actual data, META will work with you to build your capacity in using data to convey your chosen message to your audience, whether that’s your program team, your donor, your partners or your wider community. Attend the webinar or email META@Rescue.org to learn more!