Afghan Chicken Sandwich

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Photo Credit:

Language vs cultural fluency

This hilarious story from an Afghan university student in the US is a great example of why clients with excellent English still need our help to adjust their skills to the U.S. workplace.  Click here for the quick read from Public Radio International.

Ideas for how to use it in your work:

  • Give it to Afghan SIVs or others as a way to help them be prepared for similar experiences.
  • Tell it in job readiness class to start a discussion about the importance of asking questions and not just saying “yes, yes”.
  • Use it to add humor when coaching a client who is projecting a know-it-all attitude an employer wants your help to address.

It will definitely make you laugh!


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Resumes (Sigh). Please Help Me!

resumeWhat kind of information or resources would help you with resume preparation? Any formats or tips you can share?

Resumes  help clients identify and learn to explain their own marketable skills.  Many professional or skilled positions require one that meets US standards.

I’ve recently been called out for lack of information about preparing client resumes in our blog. It’s not my favorite subject – or task – and I suspect I’m not alone.

I’ll stop the avoidance if some of you will offer advice and assistance.  Email at or give me a call at 410-230-2840.  Thanks.


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Surprising Restaurant Industry Stats [Infographic]

Restaurant Snip TwoDid you know that 52% of dishwashers surveyed would like to work additional hours?  Given the frequently parttime nature of this common starter job for our clients, this statistic isn’t surprising.

A useful infographic from the National Restaurant Association offers several facts that are surprising about upward mobility, employee longevity and a strong pathway to small business ownership.  Click here for a PDF version.

The visual presentation and strong factual evidence could help resistant clients better appreciate where entry level restaurant jobs can lead.

Thanks to HR Bartender, where I found the resource.  You can read much of the source research for the infographic here.



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Now Available: U.S. Job Cycle at Higher’s Online Learning Institute

U.S. Job Cycle at Higher's Online Learning Institute

It only takes 20 minutes from start to finish!

Check out our newest online training – The U.S. Job Cycle – a field tested (by me for 3 years) stand alone job readiness session.

It can also be the framework for your entire approach to job readiness no matter how you do that in your agency.

Download and print graphics, classroom games and techniques to reinforce key concepts in one-on-one client meetings in the resource section.


3 Simple Steps to Learn Something New Right Now

1.  Click here to go to Higher’s Online Learning Institute login screen.

2.  Login or sign up.

3.  Click on the Catalogue box in the dashboard view and learn.

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Free Webinar About Serving Skilled Immigrants

GTBWES Talent Bridge is offering a webinar – Connecting with model programs to Serve Skilled Immigrants – on Tuesday, October 14 at 3pm EST.

It will feature IRC Silver Spring (home to Matthew Fortier, Higher Peer Advisor) as one model of how to assess the needs of highly skilled clients and target services that meet their unique needs.

Click here to go to the registration page.



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When Refugees Can Work: The Case of Uganda

Uganda Refugee Work

Ali Daud Omar will repair your cell phone for $6. He’s one of the refugees benefiting from the Ugandan government’s right-to-work policy. (Photo Credit: Gregory Warner/NPR)

Are refugees who are able to work in their host countries or elsewhere along their journey able to transition more successfully to job readiness when they arrive in the US?

My theory, based largely on experience, is yes.  What experiences can you share that speak to the impact of the right to work in host countries on refugee resettlement success here in the US?

How it Looks in Uganda

Refugees and asylees have had the right to “practice a profession and have access to employment opportunities” in Uganda for 15 years.

Two recent articles and a 7 minute segment on NPR’s Planet Money podcast focus on their diverse contributions to the Ugandan economy as a result.  (Click HERE and HERE for the relevant links.)

According to a UNHCR country profile, the three largest populations of “concern planned for under the Uganda operation in 2014 are: asylum-seekers and refugees originating from the DRC, Somalia and South Sudan, the vast majority of whom have arrived over the past five years.”





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NEW at Higher’s Online Learning Institute

How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions at Higher's Online Learning Institute

Learn to use this simple technique featured in Higher’s new traning course.

How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions eLearning Training Now Available!

“Tell me about a time when you did not meet an important deadline.  What happened and what was the result for your company’s bottom line?”

Oof.  This is a hard question for any job seeker to answer.

Now there’s new help from Higher!  Check out our latest eLearning course to  help clients craft stories from their own past experience to answer this increasingly common type of interview question.

Click here to go to Higher’s Online Learning Institute login screen and discover how it can help you up your job placement rates today.


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5 Ways to Build a Good Credit History

Credit history…or avoid trashing it before they even understand how important it is.

Typically, when clients are even aware of this topic, they’ve already made mistakes that have established a bad credit history and may no longer be in touch with you or anyone else at your agency.

It’s one of the important aspects of long term economic self-sufficiency that often  ‘falls between the cracks’ in the initial resettlement service period.

Here are five strategies you can share with clients:

1.  Pay rent and utility bills in full and on time.  Not doing so will put you on the fast track to a negative credit history.

2.  Pay off your IOM Travel Loan All 9 Volags collect loan payments from the clients they resettle and report to TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. Bet many of you didn’t know that, right?

3.  Get a pre-paid credit card from your bank.  Make sure they report payment history to a credit bureau.  Not all of them do.   Begin by opening a checking account, establishing a relationship with someone in your branch and managing your account wisely for 3-6 months.

4.  Pay off a big ticket purchase (major appliance, used vehicle) with a vendor loan or layaway plan.  Be sure you can pay it off on time and that they report payment history to a credit bureau.

5.  Avoid amassing a large credit card debt.  It’s much easier to obtain a credit card than to manage out of control debt and large payments.  Losing control with soon put a blemish on your credit history.

(Thanks to my baby brother the banker and Terry Holthouse, LIRS Travel Loans Manager, for contributing their expertise to this post.)

Higher would love to hear from you with tips, resources and approaches to financial literacy.


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Cultural Stereotypes: An Incomplete Story

chimamanda on cultureTo understand more about how cultural stereotypes can affect our clients and what you can do about it, check out a clip from our Employability Assessment eLearning module at Higher’s Online Learning Institute.

Don’t yet have your free, lifetime username and password?  Click here to learn more and sign up.

Forgot the URL?  Click here or look on our homepage at

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Strengths vs Barriers: A Different Perspective

strengths successIt’s easy to fall into a pattern of worrying about all of the barriers our clients face and our work to address them.

Overcoming poverty is what we’re helping them with at a very basic level.  Our clients share much in common with everyone experiencing poverty in the US.

A recent article in the New York Times presents some of those commonalities, as well as some of the advantages our clients possess compared to native-born citizens facing the same challenges.  The new immigrant’s story featured in this article will remind you of all that is inspiring about our work, our clients, their strengths and contributions.


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