App Based Employment: Career Counseling Strategies

As many refugees access flexible app-based employment opportunities, such as rideshare, labor, and delivery, how are you preparing clients?

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Planning

For clients interested in entering app-based or on-demand employment, it is important to offer career counseling that provides guidance as to how this intermediate path contributes or hinders their long-term career path. Uber, InstaCart, and other app-based positions may provide flexible, immediate income. However, these gigs are not necessarily sustainable in the long-term and are not appropriate for everyone. When clients inquire about this type of employment, it is important to assist them in exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each opportunity as well as other options that can support their career pathway.

Important Considerations

  • Flexibility in the schedule might allow more time for ESL, GED, or post-secondary education courses.
  • The employer may offer opportunities for employees to further their education and even helps offset some of the cost. For example, Lyft partnered with an education benefits company to provide education advancement programming, including Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, GED, vocational, and English language courses. For more information, click here.
  • All the app based employers require a strong command of the English language.
  • Rideshare apps such as Lyft and Uber or delivery apps such as Postmates and Grubhub require both a driver’s license and a car.
  • How much does the client need to make to be self-sufficient?
  • What is the actual pay per hour after expenses? How do you budget for tips?
  • As an independent contractor, what will the taxes amount to and how will they be paid?
  • Overall, do the pros outweigh the cons?

Introduction to Government Run Youth Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are structured training programs that give youth a chance to work towards a career-related qualification and are a great pathway to a higher-paid, skilled job. Apprenticeships help students gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a chosen industry. Youth apprenticeships prepare high school students with a combination of classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training. These apprenticeships are usually a partnership between state or local government, the local school system, and employers in the local community.

Apprenticeships offer significant advantages for youth:

  • Immersion — Entry-level workers have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the work environment for which they are preparing.
  • Academic Credit — Some apprenticeships may have direct agreements with post-secondary institutions, such as community colleges, for academic credit.
  • Cash — An apprenticeship is also paid employment. Therefore, students who need to earn a wage while learning can greatly benefit from this approach.

What Are Some of the Challenges of Youth Apprenticeships?

There are a few challenges associated with apprenticeship programs. They can be difficult to set up and may involve bureaucratic work; building a program might take years and will require strong partnerships. Industries do not always see the benefits of a youth specific apprenticeship, choosing instead to focus on adults with established work histories. Some industries, such as construction, have very volatile ebbs and flows that can make steady employment more difficult. Finally, most apprenticeships are not geared towards workers with limited English proficiency.  Advocating for refugee clients who may wish to access apprenticeships and utilizing youth programs like Job Corps, which includes on-site training and education may help to combat these challenges.

With today’s vibrant and competitive workforce, greater levels of preparation are required for young people to successfully access opportunities that pay living wages and withstand the pressures inherent in our economy. Apprenticeships may offer one solution to this challenge.

For more information on youth apprenticeships or apprenticeships in general follow:

Youth with Disabilities Entering the Workplace through Apprenticeship, Career Begins with Assessment, and the U.S. Department of Labor website for apprenticeship.

Financial Literacy Spotlight: Savings

When working entry-level jobs it can be difficult to contribute to a savings account. However, it is imperative for everyone to build up a savings safety net and therefore crucial for employment specialists to reiterate the importance of savings as a part of financial literacy training. Below are some resources to help you teach and encourage refugees to save:

“Savings” is money that is set aside for a specific purpose such as buying a home or emergency income. Cash left over in a checking account after paying bills does not necessarily count as “savings,” especially if the money is going to be used later in the same pay period. Similarly, if a client “saved” $5 at the grocery store, they have not necessarily increased their savings, but rather refrained from spending what was planned. Saving is not the absence of spending; saving is the intentional act of setting money aside for a specific goal or purpose. Many financial institutions have developed initiatives that include a curriculum covering the basics of money management with specific lessons on saving.  Here is a link to some of our favorites.

As a part of financial literacy training, encourage clients to open a savings account the same time they open their checking account.  When building a budget with a client, it is crucial to build in a line for savings, but how much should a client save each paycheck or month? The National Endowment for Education has developed several useful web-based tools, including Savings for Emergencies and Smart About Money. As clients enter employment, encourage them to put the appropriate amount of income into savings.

Incorporating savings into financial literacy and job readiness courses assists refugees with their long-term self-sufficiency and independence. Whether to buy a car or a house, or just for an unplanned emergency, learning how to save is crucial to success.

The Immigrant and Employee Rights Hotline for I-9 and E-Verify Violations

Higher is seeing an increase in offices reporting issues with new employers being extra cautious about verifying a new hire’s employment authorization. When establishing a relationship with a new employer, it is best for employment staff to accompany their clients and act as a hiring guide for both parties. It is essential to know that a client has the right to present any combination of documents listed on form I-9 and that it is illegal for an employer to solicit documents from clients beyond I-9 requirements.

If you or your clients are having trouble with the onboarding process due to documentation issues, you can contact the Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. This agency enforces the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Immigration and Nationality Act

This federal law prohibits:

  • discrimination due to citizenship status or national origin in
    • hiring,
    • firing,
    • or recruitment;
  • unfair documentary practices during the
    • employment eligibility verification,
    • Form I-9
    • and E-Verify;
  • and retaliation or intimidation

In job readiness training, be sure to provide clients with the IER worker hotline (1-800-255-7688) and encourage self-reporting outside of resettlement services, when necessary. The hotline provides interpretation services upon request.

Want to practice your knowledge of I-9? The Employee Rights Interactive Quiz is great for staff and job readiness training!

For further questions surrounding worker’s rights, see Higher’s blog post on Worker’s Rights Review.

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!