Head, Heart, Hands: A Strategy for Employer Conversations

When I was a rookie job developer just starting out I came up with a little strategy that I would use when approaching employers. I called it Head, Heart, Hands, and it represented 3 simple messages that I wanted to communicate to employers:

  1. Head: It makes good business sense to hire refugees- it will be a good investment.
  2. Heart: I’m doing something positive by hiring refugees- I’m helping someone rebuild their life.
  3. Hands: It will make my life easier to work with this job developer and hire refugees.

Original Sketch, Daniel Wilkinson, Circa 2011

While I had initially thought of the elements of Head, Heart and Hands as the three points on my employer pitch outline, what I began to realize was that it wasn’t as important to hit all three points, but rather to identify which of the elements was the driving motivation for the employer.

Some employers’ primary concerns may be business issues such as high turnover, frequent employee absences, lazy workers, or issues affecting their bottom line. For these employers you take the “Head” approach and emphasize how your clients will meet the employers’ need where past employees have fallen short. You might highlight client retention rates, strong work ethic or the Work Opportunity Tax Credit incentive.

Other employers just need workers fast. They’re looking for an easy solution to their current labor shortage. For those employers, you take the “Hands” approach, and emphasize how you can solve that problem by getting them work-authorized, motivated and dependable employees quickly.

Finally, there are employers out there who get really excited about the “Heart” aspect. Some may be immigrants or descendants of immigrants and identify with the struggle from that perspective. Others may just have a strong motivation to help others. Although the “business case” is typically much more effective than the “charity pitch,” if you can tell that an employer is really excited to help refugees from more of a humanitarian perspective, then run with it!

Do you have a go-to strategy that you use when walking into a meeting with an employer? Let us know at information@higheradvantage.org or in the comments section below!

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5 Mapping Strategies for Employer Outreach

Aside from language, literacy, and cultural adjustment issues, transportation is one of the most significant barriers to employment that our clients face. While not always possible, finding employment that is easily accessible by foot, bike, or public transportation is ideal. Here are a few mapping strategies that you can use to help your clients overcome this employment barrier:

1. Explore the area immediately surrounding your client’s home. Type your client’s address into Google Maps and zoom in and out to look for grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, factories, etc. that would be easily accessible for clients. After familiarizing yourself with a neighborhood through Google maps, it’s a good idea to visit the neighborhood, since there are things you will notice in person that you wouldn’t see just by looking at a map on a computer screen.

2. Use a map of your city’s public transportation system to inform your employer outreach efforts. Start by looking at a paper map or maps that may be available on your city’s public transportation website. Then go to Google Maps, and find transportation lines near where your clients live and follow them to see what businesses are along these routes. Another fun thing to do is to drive public transportation routes as you are doing employer outreach. Sometimes you will see businesses that may not be listed on Google Maps.

A sample of results for Google Maps search: “manufacturing near Chicago”

3. Search for target industries or major employers in the neighborhood, city or region where your clients live. For example you could search for “manufacturing near Pittsburgh, PA” or “Hotels in New Orleans.” Research the largest employers are in your area to see how accessible these employers are for your clients. Where Are the Jobs? is a very helpful website that you can use to obtain labor market information for your area.

4. Start with areas of the city your clients are already familiar with. Take a look at a map with your client or just have a conversation to find out which areas of the city they travel to on a regular basis. If a job opportunity were to open up in an area they are already familiar with and comfortable traveling to, chances are they will be positive about that job and will be likely to be successful there.

5. Use maps to advocate for your clients. Maps can come in handy as visuals in conversations with employers or with your R&P (Reception and Placement) department. With employers, you can use maps to prove that transportation will not be a problem, pointing out the exact transportation lines that your clients will use, and that the transportation schedule will coordinate with the work schedule. With your R&P colleagues, you can use maps to show which neighborhoods are best situated for easy access to employment opportunities. Employment departments and R&P departments may want to consider doing strategy 1 (above) together as a strategy for increasing collaboration on housing and employment.

One rule of thumb for public transportation: Try to keep commute times to an hour or less and avoid having clients take more than two modes of transportation (e.g. switching buses). When the commute is longer than an hour and clients have to take more than 2 modes of transportation, it is almost inevitable that they will struggle to make it to work on time or that they will end up quitting their jobs because the commute is just too overwhelming.

Hopefully, these tips will help you find jobs closer to home for your clients, as well as improve job satisfaction and retention. Let us know if you have other innovative mapping strategies at information@higheradvantage.org!

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Body Language Tips for Job Developers – Infographic

In most cases, as a Job Developer, you essentially do the first interview for your clients. If you make a good impression, that employer will want to meet your clients. If not, it’s game over.

We often focus on content rather than form, preparing our clients for job interview questions or preparing our “elevator pitch” for employers, but we sometimes forget that most communication is actually non-verbal (about 80% according to this Businesstopia article).

So the next time you focus on interview prep in job readiness class or get ready to walk into an appointment with an employer, keep these 27 body language tips in mind:


Want to see a couple more cool info-graphics related to body language for job interviews and business interactions? Check out The Basics of Business Body Language and 7 Body Language Interview Mistakes.

We’d love to highlight your success story about a recent exchange you’ve had with an employer. Get in touch at information@higheradvantage.org.


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Using Data to Drive Job Development

With such limited time and capacity, you’ve got to make the most out of the time you have for Job Development.

Back in February, we highlighted some online industry research tools available on www.careeronestop.org that can help Job Developers be strategic about what industries they pursue by looking at local labor market information such as fastest growing occupations, most total job openings and occupations with the largest employment.

We’ve recently come across a similar (though less extensive) resource that also presents labor market information, but in a format that is much more user-friendly and more visually appealing.

Where-are-the-jobs.com provides a “graphic representation of occupation employment statistics.” The website was developed by SymSoft Solutions using open data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, and provides insights on employment trends and salary information for various occupations.

This helpful website allows you to view big-picture information such as top industries across the nation, or filter search results by occupation group, specific occupation, state or metro areas. For example, here is what you get when you filter results for “Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations” in the San Diego – Carlsbad, CA area:

Where are the Jobs Visual

We hope that this tool as well as the resources available at careeronestop.org will increase your ability to use your time wisely and strategically identify the best opportunities for your clients.

If you have any stories about how you’ve used data-driven strategies to drive your job development efforts we’d love to hear them. Share your story by emailing us at information@higheradvantage.org or by using the comments section below.



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8 Steps to Get the Most from Cold Calling in a High Volume Shopping Area

Outdoor Shopping CenterThrowback Thursday: a classic Higher blog post about a fundamental of our work.

Cold call canvassing can be intimidating, but is one effective component of your job development strategy that you can’t afford to avoid.  Consider trying it in a high volume outdoor strip mall with a high volume and wide variety of retail businesses.

If you plan well, an afternoon’s work can net immediate job leads, numbers to call for future openings and even strategic employer contacts for longer term relationship development.

Sometimes getting out of the office helps you stay motivated and fueled with fresh ideas.  (And, if you happen into a DSW or Starbucks, a 10 minute break can really boost your energy level, as well.)

Here are 8 steps for making the most of this approach.  Gather your courage.  Make a plan.  Now, GO!

  1. Pick the best target.  Select a location on a bus line or accessible on-foot for a large number of clients.
  2. Come prepared.  Bring business cards, marketing materials and something to record information for your database and follow-up plans.
  3. Look the part.  Plan to dress appropriately since your first impression will be important.  Wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be walking a lot.
  4. Timing is critical.  Canvass businesses between 2:00 – 5:00 pm.  Noone wants to be bothered during the lunch rush.  Decision makers are often not on duty early in the morning or late in the work day.
  5. Jump on the openings you find.  You are very likely to identify a few immediate openings, some of which might not be advertised yet, so competition might be less.  Be prepared to respond to them within 24 hours at the latest.  Text or email them to your team immediately.  Have a couple of clients in mind so you can help them apply quickly.  You could even bring client resumes to lay the groundwork for them to respond in person.
  6. Be on the lookout for follow-up opportunities.  Note any employer that seems especially promising for longer term relationship building.  This won’t apply to every business in the shopping area, but you might find an interested manager or employee with some kind of connection you can leverage.
  7. Grab applications. They can be useful for future openings or to help clients practice completing them for general skill building.
  8. Don’t forget to capture basic information.  Include contact information, the application process, common types of jobs and any other details you can glean for your employer database.






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Understanding Employers’ Needs and Providing Solutions

The perfect employee

Consultative Selling for Refugees, Part 2: Needs Analysis

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 post is the second of a 4-part series that will share the basics of the model, as well as adaptations from refugee employment programs who have already been 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 Roadmap.” 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 RoadmapIn part one, we introduced Consultative Selling and the first step in “The 4-Step Roadmap”: Prospecting. Prospecting involves finding job opportunities and asking for an initial appointment.

In this post we’ll move on to step two, the Needs Analysis, and talk about what you actually do in that first appointment.

What is a Needs Analysis?

Michael ScottIn the Consultative Selling model, a Needs Analysis is a 30-60 minute appointment with the hiring decision maker(s). The objective of a Needs Analysis is to introduce yourself to the employer and to ask questions that help you understand the employer’s needs, values and goals.

Asking a hiring manager well-thought-out questions can help you bypass the “wish-list” of qualifications that are often listed on formal job descriptions and give you a clear picture of what an employer is really looking for.

The Needs Analysis will also help you identify the costs, benefits, and overall value that working with refugees will bring to the employer.

All of this information will help you evaluate whether or not you can provide a solution that will meet the employers stated needs or desires.

If the answer is no, you walk away. If it is yes, then you move on to the third step – Selling.

Key Needs Analysis Questions

“Questions are the gold mine of Job Development,” says Allen Anderson. Over time you will develop your own list of go-to questions that work for you, but here are some examples to get you started:

  • What positions exist at this company (not just current openings)?
  • What tasks are associated with these positions?
  • What skills-sets do you most need?
  • What is the most important characteristic you are looking for in employees?
  • What factors typically disqualify candidates from being selected?
  • What type of employees tend to advance in this company?
  • What challenges or frustrations do you face in finding or keeping good employees?

Should You Make the Sale During the Needs Analysis?

We’re not going to get into the “selling” step until the next post, but you may be wondering whether you should try to sell the employer on your services during this appointment or at a later time. Well, it depends. As Kenny Rogers says:

Kenny Rogers

Most of us have heard the expression “You snooze, you lose.” This is particularly true when it comes to employment opportunities. When an opportunity is there, you go for it, because it might not be there tomorrow.

If you feel that you understand an employer’s needs and have a solution to offer, by all means, make the sale during the Needs Analysis meeting. That being said, be very careful not to over-promise and under-deliver.

There are a number of factors to consider in matching the right client to the right job. It’s better to take some time to make sure you can confidently recommend someone than to rush a situation that is unlikely to be successful.

Observations & Adaptations for Refugee Employment

Refugee employment programs using the Consultative Selling approach say that the Needs Analysis is one the most helpful elements of the model, but have the following recommendations:

The whole process needs to move faster.

Consultative Selling is a strong model for building long-term relationships with employers but doesn’t necessarily emphasize the speed at which this happens. Newly arrived refugees must obtain employment very quickly, so finding ways to speed up the process is critical.

James LopezAfter working with the Consultative Selling model for a couple years, James Lopez, Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO, recommends being more conversational and less scripted as way to speed up the process during the Needs Analysis.

It’s good to be organized and ask good questions, but you also want the conversation to feel natural, and even enjoyable, to that employer. It’s important to build rapport as quickly as possible.

James also recommends finding creative ways to break into local employer networks beyond your meetings with hiring decision makers. Attending networking groups, setting up speaking engagements and leveraging your personal network can result in personal connections that become “champions” for refugees within local companies.

Refugee employment staff in other parts of the country who have recently begun implementing the Consultative Selling model are coming to similar conclusions:

Valerie EvansValerie Evans, RSSP Coordinator at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County in Syracuse, NY shares the experience her team as they’ve begun working with this model:

“We’ve incorporated the Needs Analysis into our meetings, but we’ve found employers need a quicker process. We’ve found that many employers are not willing to spend a whole hour in a Needs Analysis meeting.

Valerie also says that employers have responded well to a condensed Needs Analysis meeting with focused questions that quickly identify needs, such as “What are the top 3 things you look for in employees?” or “What are the top 3 things that will get you fired?”

While the primary focus of the Needs Analysis is the employer, providing some education and context on refugees is helpful.

The Consultative Selling approach is a shift for many refugee employment programs, but there are some things that we’ve done for a long time that we should continue to do.

One of these long-time strategies is providing employers with a basic orientation to refugees either verbally or through a well-designed brochure. The Needs Analysis meeting is a good opportunity to do this.


It may be strategic to share this information towards the end of the Needs Analysis meeting since some of the information you will share will be the selling points of working with refugees (e.g. legal status, retention rates, work ethic, etc.).

Perhaps you can use this information to transition to selling, whether you make the sale in the Needs Analysis meeting or at a later time.

Needs Analysis Tips

Here are a few more tips from James Lopez at LFSRM to keep in mind when conducting Needs Analysis meetings:

  • Focus on the “Three P’s”: Process, Policies, and Personal Relationship – Your success depends on the employer trusting you.
  • Use intelligent questions to keep the conversation on track and keep it focused on employer needs.
  • Avoid asking “why” questions – these can give the impression that you are criticizing and can make employers defensive.
  • End the conversation with action steps – come to an agreement with the employer about what you will do next and what the timeline will look like.
  • Remember that it often takes between 5-7 points of contact before an employer hires someone. Be prepared to have several conversations, and make sure that you are confident before presenting a solution to the employer. Don’t feel bad about asking more questions or getting clarification on things after the initial Needs Analysis appointment.
  • Remember to take a consultative approach: You’re not just selling employers on your clients, but you are also selling them on the supportive services that you can offer both before and after they hire your clients.

 We hope that this post has been helpful for you. Keep us posted as you experiment with Needs Analysis meetings and perfect your technique: information@higheradvantage.org.

*Many thanks to Allen Anderson of DTG-EMP, James Lopez at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO, and Valerie Evans at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County in Syracuse, NY. Their valuable insights made this post possible.




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Employers Not Responding To Your Emails? Here’s a Tool That Will Help!

Guest Post by James Lopez

Email Black HoleEmail, for a Job Developer, is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it works like a charm. Other times it feels like a waste of time because no matter how many prospecting emails you send out, none ever return.

Fortunately, because of the digital age that we live in there are resources and tools out there to better improve your emails, resulting in higher response rates and better relationships with employers.


CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are tools designed to help salespeople develop better customer relationships. There are many different types of CRM software but anything that can collect or track customer relationships is defined under this term.

CRM Systems can be used to:

  • Track when and how often a customer or prospect is interacting with messaging
  • Help create better marketing messages by identifying successful key phrases
  • Increase email response rates
  • Ensure that you are keeping in constant contact with customers or prospects
  • Help you use your time more efficiently

Using CRM Software for Job Development

CRMs offer a multitude of tracking and organizing strategies to make job development and outreach easier and more efficient.

CRMs allow you to see, in real time, the actions of potential employers and how they respond to your “cold” emails. Imagine after sending an email being able to see when a new employer clicks on your email to read it. Imagine being able to use that data to know what phrases are most effective in getting a response from a potential employer.

According to HubSpot, a top rated CRM company, “a recent study found that the average response rate of cold emails is 1.7%.”

With such limited time, it is important to identify tools that will help maximize your effectiveness and increase the chance that employers will read and respond to your emails.

Using CRM software to improve your email

Sidekick by HubSpot is a free CRM extension you can add to your email (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc) that will track real time openings of emails and total views. Instead of blindly sending out an email, Sidekick will notify you if and when someone opens your email, the total number of views, and give you a contact card with a potential employer’s social media accounts and websites associated with their email.


Here are some ways that Sidekick will help you maximize your efficiency:

  • Write effective emails that people will actually open
  • Write more personalized emails that sound less like sales and more like a conversation starter
  • Keep in better contact with potential prospects
  • Help identify other potential employers via social media connections and professional groups
  • Create follow up requests immediately after you see a prospect open your email by sending another email

What I learned from using Sidekick

As a Job Developer, I am constantly sending out emails to potential employers. Before, I would send out long detailed emails that would explain who we were and what our program did. These emails would receive very low response rates and I had no idea what was turning people off to opening or reading my emails.

By using the Sidekick tool I started to track the open rates of my emails based on different subject lines, content, and action steps. What I found out was that employers prefer shorter emails (less than 200 words) that acknowledge the open position and set up specific days and times to meet as well as expectations of the meeting.

Additionally, I noticed that subject lines that require action like “Open Position at your Warehouse, Let’s Fill It ASAP together!” are much more effective in opening the conversation and getting potential employers to open your emails. Now, I have a 30% higher open rate and a 40% higher response rate that has led to a significant increase in my employer portfolio.

Check out the Sidekick tool here to see if it might be helpful in your Job Development efforts!

James LopezJames Lopez is a Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Greeley, CO. James’ expertise includes helping refugees obtain employment in rural/suburban areas, integrating technology into Job Development work, and using the Consultative Selling approach to build long-term employer relationships. You can reach James at james.lopez@lfsrm.org.

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Hitting the Target: Prospecting Techniques That Work

Consultative Selling for Refugees, Part One

Omaha Photo Collage

Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop, Omaha, NE / Illustration by Gary Phelps at EWARM in Wichita, KS

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 post is the first of a 4-part series that will share the basics of the model, as well as adaptations from refugee employment programs who have already been using it.

The “4-Step Roadmap”

 There are many facets to this model but the basic framework can be found in what Allen Anderson calls “The 4-Step Roadmap.” 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

Let’s get started with a basic introduction to Consultative Selling and then zero in on the first step in the “The 4-Step Roadmap”: Prospecting.

What is Consultative Selling?

BusinessDictionary.com defines Consultative Selling as “Personal selling in which a salesperson plays the role of a consultant. He or she first assists the buyer in identifying his or her needs, and then suggests products that satisfy those needs.”

This approach has been around since the 1970s, and has gradually gained popularity among employment service professionals as a strategy to build long-term partnerships with employers.

For those serving populations with significant employment barriers, Consultative Selling also provides a framework that allows them to make the case that they can provide motivated, dependable and reliable workers that meet the needs of the employer (despite the fact that some of these workers may not fit the mold of who the employer would typically hire).

What is Prospecting?

Prospecting Post ItProspecting is the first step in the Consultative Sales process. Prospecting, broadly speaking, is the act of looking for something valuable (e.g. prospecting for gold). In our case, the valuable thing we are searching for is job opportunities for our clients. So when we say prospecting, we mean how you go about finding those opportunities.

Prospecting is making first contact with an employer to get basic information about job opportunities (both advertised and “hidden”). At this point, you’re not necessarily selling an employer on your services or clients– you’re simply trying to find job openings.

Random Lead Generation vs. Targeted Lead Generation

Prospecting can be random or targeted. Random lead generation is when you find a list of employers in your region and just start making phone calls. This approach can be very effective in identifying “hidden” (unadvertised) jobs, and may open up opportunities with employers that you were unaware of or assumed would not have jobs that fit your client’s needs.

Targeted lead generation is where you make cold calls to employers in a particular industry or smaller geographical area based on the needs or skills of your clients. For example you may choose to target employers near where your clients live or employers within an industry that your clients have experience in.

Traditional Prospecting vs. Non-traditional Prospecting

ProspectingTraditional prospecting combines information gathering about job opportunities and a request for an appointment (step 2 in the 4-Step Roadmap: the “Needs Assessment”). While this approach can be effective and time efficient, it can also shut down the conversation too early if employers don’t feel like listening to a sales pitch or if there are no job openings at the moment.

Pushing for an appointment in the first phone call also forces you to make a quick decision about whether or not an opportunity should be pursued, which may result in chasing down opportunities that don’t really make sense for your clients.

Non-traditional Prospecting involves splitting the prospecting steps by using one phone call as a kind of survey to identify opportunities, and then following up with a second phone call and request for an appointment to the employers that you want to target.

This approach has several advantages (duties can be divided; space to identify which employers you want to target; the opportunity to go into meetings with foundational knowledge about their needs). The downside is that making two calls will take more time and potentially more manpower.

There are times to use both approaches. It’s up to you to decide what makes sense for your team.

First Contact: What do you say?

Here are some basic prospecting questions:

  • Are you hiring?
  • What positions?
  • How much does it pay?
  • Who is the hiring manager?
  • Has the job been advertised?

You may ask more or less than these questions, but your main objective is to gather preliminary data that will help you decide whether or not an opportunity is worth pursuing. You also want to get the name and contact information of the hiring manager whenever possible.

Observations & Adaptations from Colorado & Nebraska

Refugee employment colleagues from both Colorado and Nebraska who have been working with this model for a few years now agree that they have had more success with targeted lead generation rather than random lead generation.

They cite the following reasons for preferring a targeted approach:

  • A strong local economy – Both Colorado and Nebraska have low unemployment rates and ample job opportunities. Refugee employment programs in these states already have strong relationships with employers, and have not needed to rely on random lead generation to find opportunities.
  • When they did experiment with random lead generation, the “hidden” jobs they found often were not a good fit for refugee job seekers
  • Targeted lead generation produced better results because it focused the prospecting process on employers/jobs that fit typical client skills and are closer to clients’ homes or accessible by public transportation.

This is not to say that random lead generation would never prove useful, but so far, the targeted approach seems to be bringing in more jobs that work for refugees.

Targeted lead generation also seems to be the way to go if you have a small employment staff or if you are in a smaller community. James Lopez, Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in rural/suburban Greeley, CO strongly recommends the targeted approach:

James Lopez_cropped“I schedule out time each week to target neighborhoods or industries that would be a good fit for my clients. Instead of feeling like I need to call 100 different businesses each day, I spend a few hours per week and gets the results that I need.” -James Lopez

How many calls are needed to produce results?

Staff from Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska report that 20 phone calls typically result in 2-3 strong leads.

This matches up with Allen Anderson’s statistic that generally 10% to 20% of total calls will generate leads (although he advises that it will typically take 50 phone calls to start generating this type of percentage).

Tips for Prospecting

Carol Tucker, Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska in Omaha shared the following tips for prospecting:

  • Create a documentation system for your team to track your prospecting efforts
  • Familiarize your team with your prospecting process
  • Set weekly goals and plan your prospecting strategy
  • Don’t forget to leverage your personal and professional connections (friends, family, development department, board members, etc.)
  • Engage with employers on social media (facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

Carol Tucker“Be spontaneous. Always carry business cards and keep your eyes open- opportunities can be anywhere.” -Carol Tucker


Tools for prospecting

One tool that has been helpful for Carol and her teammates is ReferenceUSA, an online database of local employers that you can access through your local library website. Most libraries are ReferenceUSA subscribers. This tool allows you to search for employers by zip code, and obtain other employer information.

If your library does not subscribe to ReferenceUSA or if you want to target high growth industries in your area, explore the online tools we highlighted in our recent Workforce Resource post to learn about high growth industries and employers in your area.

Finally, if you are looking for jobs close to home or easily accessible by public transportation for your clients, try these 4 Mapping Strategies for Employer Outreach.

Let us know what prospecting techniques you use, or what results you see from trying the techniques outlines in this post: information@higheradvantage.org.

*Many thanks to Allen Anderson of DTG-EMP and the dedicated refugee employment staff at the ECDC African Community Center in Denver, CO; Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska in Omaha; and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Denver and Greeley, CO. Their valuable insights made this post possible.

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Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers

Source: http://allstarluxury.com

Source: http://allstarluxury.com

Welcome to the second post in our series featuring some of the tools, resources and programs available in the mainstream workforce system, shaped by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and delivered through the national network of American Job Centers serving all U.S. job seekers.

It’s a complex, resource-rich system underutilized in refugee employment services. Higher is determined to change that so our clients benefit from new opportunities and employment services.

We’ll do the research you don’t have time for amidst managing client case loads and employer relationships.  You can focus on using highlighted resources to help your clients succeed in the U.S. workforce.

In our first post we highlighted The Department of Labor, Education and Training Agency’s Industry Competency Models, which provide detailed information as well as easy to understand visuals explaining the skills needed to advance in a variety of industries.

In this post, we’ll share another online resource that will give you valuable information about a variety of industries and help you identify local employers to target in your job development efforts.

Workforce Resource: Online Tool for Identifying Prospective Employers

The “Explore Careers” section of Careeronestop.org, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers several online tools including career profiles, detailed industry information, and occupation comparisons.

Explore Careers 2

Several useful tools for job development can be found on the “What’s hot” page under the “Learn about careers” category (see photo above). In this section you can run several reports including:

Using These Tools to Discover Prospective Employers and Pathways for Your Clients

One of the most helpful features of these reports is that they allow you to filter the results by education level (some high school up to master’s degree or higher). This feature can be used to find opportunities based on client’s education/skill level or to show clients the education that will be necessary to obtain to accomplish their career goals.

Select Education Level

Once you select which type of trends you want to see and the education level, you will get a list of occupations, which you can filter by state. This will give you a general idea of what industries might be worth pursuing in your region. Here’s an example of the Top 25 Fastest Growing Occupations from the state of Ohio for job seekers with an education level of “some high school”:


How You Can Find Thousands of Employers to Target!

From the list of occupations (above) you can click on the links to see Occupation Profiles which will give descriptions of the occupations and highlight national and state trends. To find actual employers to contact go to the dropdown menu in the top right hand corner and choose “Business Finder” which will redirect you to another page where you can search for businesses by occupation and city.

So let’s say you want to search for construction laborers in Columbus, OH. Here’s what you get:

Construction Laborers

4,021 employers to add to your prospecting list!

Do you need to expand your employer network and create some new opportunities for your clients? There is no better way to go about accomplishing this goal than to identify local industries that are growing, need people, and offer jobs that fit your clients’ skills and/or educational backgrounds.

This tool is a great place to start!

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Why Job Development Should Speed Up When Hiring Slows Down

Snow tracks

Source: http://i.imgur.com/D8i0n.jpg

If you’ve worked in employment services for awhile, you know that December and January are the slowest hiring months of the year. If there is one time of year when you feel like you’re terrible at your job, it’s probably during this so called “most wonderful time of the year!”

But before you give up and resort to reckless consumption of eggnog or chocolate, let me offer another perspective: December and January may be the best time in the year to begin cultivating strategic relationships with brand new employers that will benefit your clients in the long term.

Yes, some people will be on vacation, but with less hiring going on, employers probably actually have time to talk to you! Believe me, it is worth it to brave the cold and get out there for some meetings. The effort that you put in now will have a direct influence on which employers are calling you several months from now- If you want to have a good March, June, or September make it a good December.

As you think about which employers to target, consider prioritizing employers that have a strong record of providing in-house training programs that help employees “climb the ladder” within the organization. Last month at Higher’s Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop, Dr. Faith Nibbs of the Forced Migration Upward Mobility Project (FMUMP) shared that refugees who found long term career success often did so through these types of training programs.

A great place to start identifying companies that provide training is Training Magazine’s annual “Top 125” list of organizations that excel at employee development. While some companies may be out of reach for your clients, there are many on the list that offer realistic career entry points including Jiffy Lube, Dollar General, Walgreens, ConAgra Foods, McDonalds, Choice Hotels International, MGM Resorts International, PetSmart, and Enterprise Rent A Car.

For a wonderful example of this kind of career laddering check out this video story from FMUMP about an Ethiopian refugee who has opened more than 20 Domino’s Pizza franchises!




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