Congratulations on becoming the newest member of the employment team! Helping clients obtain employment and advance in their careers is challenging work, but also extremely rewarding. Here are some tips to help you navigate the day-to-day work and succeed in your new role.
1. Introduce Yourself
Your manager will introduce you to the coworkers you will work with most frequently. However, also take the initiative to introduce yourself to other staff members that you encounter. You never know who you might be able to collaborate with. For example, building relationships with your Development team might result in important corporate donor employment leads. Likewise, as soon as you have business cards, begin carrying them around with you so that you always have them on hand when you encounter employers in the community.
2. Establish Strong Partnerships, Internally and Externally
Case managers, ESOL/job readiness instructors, job developers, volunteers, employers, and vocational training partners each play an important role in employment services. Case managers assist with logistics and client counseling. Volunteers provide additional support to the employment program. ESOL/job readiness instructors and vocational training partners play a key role in helping clients develop skills that improve their employability. Job developers identify employment opportunities. And employers hold the key to financial self-sufficiency—jobs!
It is important to develop strong relationships with each of these stakeholders. Talk to your supervisor early on about setting up meetings with each of these partners so that you can learn about their needs, preferences, and how they fit into the continuum of services being offered to clients.
3. Collaborate with Clients to Overcome Barriers to Employment
Our clients possess many strengths, but they often face barriers to obtaining employment or advancing in their careers, including:
- Lack of English/literacy skills
- Lack of job skills/credentials
- Logistical barriers (transportation, childcare, etc.)
- Cultural barriers
- Unrealistic expectations
Our role is not only to identify barriers that our clients face, but also to recognize the strengths that they have and help them identify ways to leverage their strengths to overcome their barriers. Switchboard’s recently published Info Guide Helping Clients Overcome Employment Barriers offers helpful ideas for helping clients navigate the barriers listed above.
4. Be Prepared for Additional Tasks
During busy periods, be prepared to be asked to take on additional tasks. Additional tasks might include interpretation/translation (if you speak multiple languages), picking up refugee families from the airport, participating in agency fundraising events, responding to a client emergency, or helping to prepare for program monitoring by the funder.
While some extra tasks will not be optional, in many cases you will need to assess the urgency of the situation and decide whether you have the capacity to help. As important as many additional tasks may be, remember that you will still be held accountable for the outcomes associated with your position.
5. Cultivate Flexibility, Creative Problem-solving, and Self-care
Finally, be aware that this work can be challenging, and things will often not go as planned. This may lead to feelings of frustration and stress. Maintaining flexibility, practicing creative problem-solving, and committing to regular self-care will help. Ask your supervisors what the best forums are for discussing difficult situations and what recommendations they may have to avoid burn out. Build a sense of comradery with your coworkers by finding ways to have fun together. For a few more practical ideas on self-care, check out 5 Self-Care Strategies for Care Professionals from the Idealist Careers blog.