4.1% is the latest Albany County-wide unemployment rate! Sounds like not a whole lot of people are looking for work in the Capital Region…especially given the large number of unfilled positions across Capital Region businesses/industries! But at the same time, I meet job seekers everyday looking to break into the work world!
So I did some digging! When I looked at specific Albany County census tracts, that 4.1% unemployment rate looked very different! Ten census tracts reported unemployment rates of at least double the county-wide rate and six had rates triple the 4.1% rate! Amongst individuals with disabilities, the 2018 unemployment rate was double!
Like many employers, Founder and President of High Impact Financial Services Peter Schaeffing typically posts job openings on his GO-TO online job boards…
Several months ago, Schaeffing decided to try something different. Why? “I knew that I wanted to hire someone, who might not otherwise have access to an opportunity like this…and that it was perfectly feasible for me to train the right person!
I had heard about Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region when serving on the South End Improvement Center board of directors. When I learned that many of the individuals served by Trinity Alliance programs live in high unemployment communities, I decided to reach out to them!”
The mainstream work world can feel worlds apart – foreign, unrelated to many of the job seekers with whom I work. It’s not unusual for their networks (family members, friends and neighbors) to also not be connected to a workplace. Without linkages to the work world, it becomes difficult to “break in.” Some estimate that upwards of 85 percent of open positions are filled through networking.
As an employer – whether or not you have job openings – there are many ways that you can bridge these two worlds, assist individuals to “break into” the workplace and expand your pool of qualified, willing job applicants!
Here are some recommendations from seasoned HR professional and Pinnacle Human Resources consultant Martin Patrick:
- Use the widest range of venues to publicize your openings….including community organizations and newspapers, recreational programs, churches, volunteer groups…settings in which potential job applicants feel comfortable and feel free to talk with you about opportunities.
“I could have used any of the online job boards and received plenty of resumes well-tailored to the position,” Peter Schaeffing explained. “But I honestly felt that with proper training and a willing individual, there was a good chance that I would end up with a more loyal employee!”
“Finding good people to fill your positions is always difficult,” HR Manager of Greno Industries Patrisia Sheremeta explained.
“Getting INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY and BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS with PROGRAMS and PEOPLE that launch new/returning job seekers’ careers, is the best way to find good people! Then get recommendations from their instructors or counselors: ”We’ve got this student whose fantastic!” or even meet candidates in action!” According to Sheremeta, “This gives the employer a leg-up over online job board recruiting!”
- Invite job seekers into your workplace before the interview!
“In my roles as Chief Human Resources Officer of Amsterdam Memorial Hospital and HR Director at McClellan Health System”, Martin Patrick explained, “I would invite potential applicants in – EVEN BEFORE THE INTERVIEW – to come and observe, especially during busy times! Not only does this give candidates the opportunity to actually see the work and be realistic about expectations, it’s also a welcoming message to job seekers (who do not always feel welcome in an unfamiliar setting.)”
And according to Patrick, “This tactic not only expands your pool of applicants, but also strengthens the chances for well-matched new hires.” For Sheremeta, this is a WIN-WIN scenario! Sheremeta has cultivated a strong relationship with the Schenectady-based S.E.A.T. (Social Enterprise and Training Center) CEO Jennifer Lawrence. Sheremeta explained that this gives her access to the students participating in their YouthBuild programs (a training program that provides skills, community service opportunities and sustainable wage jobs).
Sheremeta presents to the YouthBuild students once or twice a year; in these meetings, she explains what Greno does, the managers’ expectations and different career paths within the company. She also invites soon-to-graduate students to tour her facility…to see/experience the factory, the huge fabricating machines and the machinists at work!
One young man stood out during a recent tour! “He was enthusiastic, asked a lot of questions…and followed-up the next day when I asked him to send me his resume.” He is now employed as a Greno Industries apprentice.
When I spoke with him, I learned that he had always been interested in mechanics. He imagined though he would work in car mechanics. “That’s what I knew,” he told me. “If it wasn’t for my YouthBuild counselor and the tour, I would never have known about this opportunity or that I would enjoy it so much!”
- And – even when your business does not have job openings – you can still help to build a connection to the workplace for potential job applicants! Here are some suggestions:
Conduct mock interviews with a group at their site…meet with a job seeker, interested in conducting an informational interview (and gaining a better understanding of the field and the job entails, what you enjoy, find challenging, how you got to where you are, etc.) Speaking to people who work in an area that interests you makes the profession more real and attainable …and can greatly energize a job seeker!
Offering an internship or job shadowing opportunity or seasonal, part-time opportunities are great ways for individuals to build their skills, experience and self-confidence!
…and reduce employee turnover! Statistics tell us that employees connected to an organization prior to coming on board are more likely to stay with your company after the first year than those who were not familiar with your organization prior to hire.
Sheremeta explained that this is not just about giving back to the community. “We realized that unless we grow our workers ourselves, we will not have an adequate number of machinists with the skills that we need!” Currently of the company’s 40 full-time employees, 18 are experienced machinists. According to Sheremeta, the company has the capacity for up to 25 machinists, earning up to $34/hour.
When I asked Peter Schaeffing’s newest employee (referred by Trinity Alliance) about working at High Impact, her response: “I like my boss and co-workers…They’re willing to help me when I need it and I have the opportunity to learn new skills. Why wouldn’t someone keep a job like this?!” As Peter Schaeffing surmised, he just might end up with a long-term employee!