Cygnet Associates' Jodie Sue Kelly specializes in practical solutions to
client and program performance problems in workforce development.
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- See and be seen! Join and participate in local Chambers of Commerce,
Lions Club, Rotary, etc.
- Use every opportunity to job development: when you're at the store,
visiting friends, at church, etc.
- Strive to make your first placement with an employer work out. Place
your very best client, not your worst. Give extra attention.
- If you don't have the right client to fill a job order, tell the
employer the truth. Don't send unqualified applicants or employers
will stop hiring from you.
- Focus on employers' unsolved problems, not your agency's services.
Employers are eager for solutions to high turnover, low productivity,
and work ethic issues.
- There is no faster or cost-effective way to prepare clients for
interviews than to videotape and publicly critique them.
- Instill the work ethic during work readiness training. Set clear
behavioral and grooming standards and stick to them. Don't let clients
- Emphasize to clients getting jobs that they should report any new
openings at their companies.
- Create attractive, low-cost brochures with pre-printed paper from
Paper Direct (1-800-APapers).
- Make a commitment to telemarketing. Twenty cold calls a day puts you
in contact with more than 5,000 employers a year. With only a 5%
success rate, you'll place 250 clients a year.
- Get a referral from every employer you talk with. Then follow up.
- Ask employers who've hired from you to provide written testimonials.
Use these in brochures, letters, other materials.
- Be efficient. Don't mail a letter to employers, then follow up with
a phone call. Employers won't remember your letter. Just phone.
- Ask employers to conduct mock job interviews with clients at their
job site. Many will be so impressed they'll make a job offer.
- Many states are experimenting with temporary employment and other
try-before-you-buy strategies to convince employers to hire the
- Keep detailed records of your job development calls so you can
invest your time wisely. Two good software programs are Act! and
- As a customer service strategy, keep a list of summer job openings
and pass them along to employers whose school-age children are looking
- Have clients show up at your office dressed as they would for a job
interview. An eye-opener.
- Allocate time wisely. Job develop only for those clients who have
barriers sure to come up during the interview. Let other clients find
work on their own.
- Always dress in business office attire when meeting with an
- Consider sharing job leads with other social services agencies in
order to maker faster, better placements. Employers want fast action
and good referrals.
- Temporary placement agencies can be good resources for clients
lacking skills or work experience. Some clients need to work part-time
for many months before they're ready for the full-time world of work.
- On-the-job training reimbursements are a useful, if underused, tool
to lure smaller employers.
- Most clients who lose jobs do so during the first 30 days. Focus
post-placement help on this time period.
- Employers actually appreciate your assistance after placement if you
can convince them it's to help reduce their turnover and improve
- Schedule followup at regular intervals rather than just being
available. You'll be a more effective problem-solver.
- If a placement fails, visit the employer in person, apologize and
ask for another chance.
- If you can, celebrate a placement publicly to put peer pressure on
the client to remain on the job.
- Have backup plans in place for transportation and child care.
- Rotating shifts nearly always result in low job retention.
- Conduct a budget analysis to make sure the client can live on the
- Make sure the employer conducts a thorough job orientation with the
client so he/she feels comfortable with tasks and co-workers from day
- Before welfare recipients accept a job, explain clearly what will
happen to their grant and supportive services.
- Identify influential people in each client's life and find out how
they feel about the client taking a job.
- Be willing to step in at any point to do whatever is necessary to
help a client keep a job.
- Ask clients specific questions about their jobs, supervisors, home
lives, etc., not just How are things going?
- Studies show that moral support and encouragement are the services
clients value most.
- Replicate Connecticut's mentoring program, which matches successful
former welfare recipients with those just entering the work world.
- When clients lose their jobs, give them immediate access to job
leads or other help to get back to work quickly.
- Place clients with little experience or major barriers only with
employers you know well and will go the extra mile to ensure
- Studies show that health care and other benefits have more of an
impact on retention than wages.
- Get clients to sign retention contracts in which they promise to
keep the job at least six months, call employers if they are going to
be late and call the case manager when there are problems.
stressing the philosophy: A job. A better job. A career.
- Drop by the worksite on occasion to get a first-hand view of things.
- Avoid placements in jobs that normally have poor retention.
- Recognize and treat symptoms of depression and anxiety (which
afflict up to 50% of welfare recipients) and are a major cause of poor
- Keep detailed records of community services to which you can refer
clients quickly for clothes, health care and other help.
- Be careful not to pressure a client too heavily to take a job he/she
clearly does not want.
- To ferret out substance abuse, ask clients: Most employers require
drug and alcohol tests. Could you pass one if it were required of you
right now? If you can't, it's best to tell us so we can come up with a
- Retention is nearly always poor in jobs where supervisors discipline
workers in public.
- Before a client goes on an interview, ensure commitment by asking
him/her to think about it 24 hours, then calling you for details on
contacting the employer.
- Have your congressional representative send clients a
congratulations letter for getting a job.
- Consider an incentive program. One agency gets donations from local
employers (groceries, clothes, alarm clocks, etc.), then offers them
as gifts to clients who stay on the job.
Clients with major barriers to employment often take weeks or months to
find work. Even after being pumped up during work-readiness training, they
may quickly lose momentum if their efforts don't succeed quickly. Here are
some tips to keep clients motivated during the ups and downs of job
- The more one-on-one contact you have with clients, the more
motivated they'll stay. Clients value individual support more than
- Group job search (such as Job Club) is far more motivating than
individual efforts. A team approach really helps.
- Be on the lookout for signs of depression and anxiety. Use the tests
in Dr. Martin Seligman's excellent book, What You Can Change and
What You Can't.
- In contact with clients, ask them how friends and family feel about
the job search. If they're unsupportive, consider a group counseling
- Keep single mothers focused on their children and how a job will
provide a better life over the long term.
- Share your own and others success stories.
- Publicly and privately celebrate every small success: getting an
interview; being a finalist; getting a job. Post success stories on
the wall for all to see.
- Work with clients on a budget; show them how they can make it.
- Be sure welfare recipients know what will happen to their grant if
they do not comply with job search.
- Keep problems from being overwhelming by breaking them down into