I was prompted to write today’s blog after receiving a comment from an Employment Specialist with another social service agency yesterday. She was responding to what I shared regarding a woman who made two poor decisions which cost her a job I had encouraged her to apply for. The issue is a client in need of work, a Job Developer or Employment Consultant knowing of a job that might be a good fit, and the client being kept ignorant of the opportunity.
So on the surface, this doesn’t make much sense. After all, if the person needs a job, and you had an employer asking you to send them candidates, why would you hold back that information and keep the job seeker in the dark? Well perhaps for good reason. What it all depends on is perspective.
To the person looking for work, it appears mean not to allow them to compete for the job by having the information shared with them. To the employer, they want to reduce their time looking by only having solid candidates forwarded on to them, and to the Job Developer in the middle, they want to forward resumes of good candidates so that the employer is more likely to continue calling on them when they need more employees. All three people in this process have their own agenda, could defend their position and decisions and want results. The job seeker wants the lead, the employer wants applicants who already meet their requirements and the Job Developer wants a successful hire.
However, if you were the person looking for work, the only perspective you’d care about would be your own. So what do you have to say or do to get leads? What kind of behaviour is likely to get you provided with the information you need to know about those hidden jobs? (Hidden because the employer isn’t advertising publically and on job boards, they are going through an agency).
While the criteria may vary slightly, it will start with an up-to-date resume that best markets your experience, skills and makes it clear what you are looking for. And once notified of an opportunity, that resume will likely need some tweaking again to get it positioned to respond better than others the employer might receive to the needs of the employer.
It’s also critical to respond to a phone message promptly, otherwise the Job Developer will move on to someone pretty quickly because they now have an employer waiting for action. Not much point looking for work, and having an Employment Specialist of some kind also working on your behalf if you won’t return phone calls, or aren’t getting messages from others in your home.
You’ll be needing some references; people who can attest to your work ethic, experience, personal qualities, professionalism, and the best references are people you’ve recently worked with or for. If all your references are more than two or three years old, their feedback is less and less relevant. Walking around with a lovely letter from your boss you worked for at 20 years old is great if you are 21, but not worth anything if you’re now 46. All this would do is shine a spotlight on the fact that apparently no one since your were 21 is able or willing to attest to your work performance, and that raises doubt about your worth.
Another key requirement is how you respond to possible leads, opportunities, and whether you take suggestions from the person helping you or not. So if for example you were advised to brush up on your interview skills, but had done nothing by the time of your next appointment, your commitment to your job search might be questioned. Agreeing on a plan of action and following through shows commitment, a genuine desire to improve yourself, and a willingness to and of course moves you up the list in the mind of the person working with you to get a job.
Sometimes it may be that your work history is weak, out-dated, and sketchy. Volunteering might be suggested therefore as a way to obtain relevant and current experience. While this may seem like an unnecessary delay to obtaining paid work to you, it may be what you need in order to appeal to employers. If this is the advice you get, take it gladly and get volunteering. Think of it like on-the-job training; a lengthy interview. You’ll get a reference out of it, recent experience, some credibility, a rise in your self-esteem, some routine, you’ll feel valued and appreciated, and you’ll be filling in a gap on your resume.
The last thing a Job Developer wants to do is send people to employers who disappoint, don’t show up, perform poorly in interviews, turn down jobs, show up late or not at all, etc. This could lose the employer, and then the Job Developer has fewer places to send other clients; and while you as an individual might not care about other job seekers, you are but one they are trying to help.
Help others help you best by taking advice, being enthusiastic and dependable, following through on plans of action, and demonstrating you can be relied upon.