The Key to Employment Success

Every day, I see articles scattered about the internet about jobs. Job creation, job success, interview tips and tricks, what to put/not to put on your résumé…the list goes on. Some of these articles, however, don’t even describe the most important step in finding a successful job placement, not only for agencies supporting individuals with disabilities, but for everyone.

A legitimate question: how many of you buy something immediately after seeing it, without even asking what it does or how much it costs? Probably very, very few of you. What would make you more likely to purchase it? Probably a few things:

  • The item’s purpose – What can it do for me?
  • The item’s cost – How much will this cost me?
  • The item’s performance – Is it well-built? Is it made by a reputable manufacturer? Does it have good reviews?
  • The item’s demand – Will I really use this if I purchase it?

A lot of what NEBA does it similar to a customer contemplating a purchase, only the customer is an employer, and the item (not to intentionally dehumanize), is our job seeker. Employers have all of these basic questions (and then some) in mind. To paraphrase the above list into employment terms:

  • The job seeker’s role – What can this person do to help my business?
  • The job seeker’s pay – How much should I compensate them for their work? Can I afford it?
  • The job seeker’s credentials – What are their skills? Does NEBA know they are a good match for my business?
  • The job seeker’s effectiveness – If I hire this person, will it be worth my investment?

Back to the important key step in employment success. Before an employer can even begin to ask these questions, they need to trust the person they are speaking with. This does not happen in the first, or second, or even third or fourth conversation together. It takes time to build a relationship, and that is the first key to employment success for our individuals. Is it mostly in the job seeker’s hands to succeed? Absolutely. But with NEBA as the catalyst to employment and as the initial contact to employers, it is our relationship building that starts the journey to successful placement.

If you happen to receive a visit from a NEBA employment consultant, you can be sure we won’t blurt out our mission statement. We want you to do the talking first. 🙂 It is about your business, not our job-seekers. We want to know what your business does. How you have reached your current status as a business. How today’s economy is affecting your bottom line, and your employees. We want to know how your business impacts the community. We also want to know your story. How did you come to be the employer that you are? Are there things you would change about your business? What’s your favorite ice cream flavor (hey, it can’t be all business)?

The bottom line: If we don’t know about you, we cannot possibly know about your business. If we don’t know about your business, we cannot possibly know if a NEBA job seeker would be a great match. Without taking the steps to nurture a relationship, there’s no point in even asking about job opportunities, because neither NEBA nor an employer wants to invest in something they don’t know about.

-Ryan Aldrich

Senior Employment Consultant, Connecticut Services

Job Creation vs. Job Carving

It’s not uncommon to hear the term “job creation” in everyday life. With today’s volatile economy, jobs are one of the main topics of the 2012 presidential election. With unemployment around 8.5%, everyone has ideas on how to create jobs. Whether your preferred job creation tactic is tax breaks, stimulus funds, or good old-fashioned education access, people need to work to live successfully. When it comes to job creation, NEBA is no different. NEBA also uses a strategy called “job carving” to place job seekers in successful positions. What’s the difference?

Job Creation

Job creation is just as it states. A position is drawn up based upon an employer’s need. Job descriptions are created, a salary is set, and someone is hired to do the job. NEBA meets with employers and gets to know them and their business. What are their needs? What are their barriers to further success? How can a NEBA job seeker help them meet their goals? If these questions are not asked, we cannot match the right person to the right job, and we are therefore not doing our job.

Job Carving

Job carving is based upon the same concept as job creation, but is a bit different, in that it is usually based upon a position that already exists and is vacant. When meeting with an employer, NEBA may have a job seeker in mind that could benefit the employer. However, sometimes, not all of the tasks are aligned with the job seeker’s abilities. Perhaps the person can lift 40 pounds when the job requires 60. Maybe 30 minutes of a 6-hour shift involves heavy typing, and that’s not someone’s forté. This is where job carving comes into play. What if NEBA could help an employer figure out how to integrate that one task amongst other staff? This way, the barrier would be cleared, and NEBA’s applicant could confidently perform all other tasks the employer is looking for. Essentially, the job is being “carved” to cater to the job seeker. Employers still hire one person for the job they needed complete, and are supporting NEBA’s mission and community integration in the process!

Carving A Creation

Sometimes, job carving leads to job creation. Working with a Springfield Walgreens, we were able to take the extraneous tasks of cleaning restrooms, sweeping the store, washing windows and doors, etc., away from staff who needed to focus on customer service, and create a new position for one of our job seekers whose employment goal was to keep a store neat and tidy. Nearly 7 years later, that gentleman is still gainfully employed and has many natural supports in place to secure his independence.

Whether it’s job creation or job carving, NEBA’s mission of putting people to work in their communities is a win-win.

–Ryan Aldrich, Senior Employment Consultant: Connecticut Services

BRS Work Evaluations: Helping Without Hiring

Have you ever felt like you wanted to help someone in need so much, but just didn’t have the means to do so? Maybe it was a phone call from a charitable foundation looking for a donation, and bills need to be paid. Perhaps someone needs their car towed, but you don’t have a AAA membership to lend out. Sometimes, people want to help, but don’t think they can. This happens quite often when I am meeting employers in communities across Connecticut. So many employers recognize the talents and strengths of people with disabilities. Many of them want to help in some way, but due to budget constraints, slow business, etc., they find themselves in a tough spot. Thankfully, NEBA, in partnership with the Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) is here as a resource for employers who want to help, but can’t hire.

BRS is a federally funded vocational rehabilitation program that is overseen by the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS). Funding is received from the US Department of Education, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Most states have their own federally funded vocational rehabilitation programs (Massachusetts’ is the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), with whom NEBA also partners), though the services given and terms used vary by state.

BRS uses work evaluations to help job seekers determine whether or not a chosen career path is an appropriate choice. They are also used for agencies like NEBA to determine whether or not a job seeker has the necessary skills to perform tasks efficiently and to an employer’s benefit. Evaluations typically last 40 hours and are completed within a two or three-week period. A NEBA job coach is present for all or most of the work evaluation (determined before the evaluation begins). At the end of the evaluation, employers are asked for feedback, which is put into a report completed by NEBA consultants and submitted to BRS. The job seeker is paid for the hours worked, but not by the employer! BRS pays NEBA the consumer’s wages, along with a premium to cover the job seeker’s liability and worker’s compensation, and the wages (equal to Connecticut’s minimum wage) are paid to the job seeker.

That’s right. Any employer offering to help a BRS job seeker complete a work evaluation gets:

    • 40 hours of work completed at their business
    • A NEBA job coach to assist with any issues that may arise
    • The great feeling of helping someone enter or re-enter the workforce
    • All wages, liability and worker’s compensation paid for

…and all at absolutely no out-of-pocket expense!

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? I hear it all the time. It’s the real deal. NEBA and BRS confidently send job seekers to companies for work evaluations because many hours have been spent meeting with the job seeker, finding their interests, skills and talents, barriers and challenges, all before employers are even contacted. When I contact businesses to talk about work evaluations, I do so knowing that the job seeker will benefit that employer for the 40 hours they work for them.

Obviously, our ultimate goal at NEBA is to place job seekers in permanent positions on company payrolls. Work evaluations are a first step for BRS job seekers to showcase their skills, and are a great way for employers to get involved, especially those who want to help, but just can’t hire. Work evaluations are all about developing partnerships with businesses to help put people to work.

If you’re an employer in Connecticut who is interested in helping a job seeker with a work evaluation, feel free to contact us. Regional contacts are below:

Employers from other states may contact their respective state’s Department of Social Services for information on their state’s vocational rehabilitation programs and services.

-Ryan Aldrich, Senior Employment Consultant

NEBA ≠ Charity

In my tenure at NEBA, I have job developed and networked in communities throughout Connecticut and western Massachusetts. When I network, I meet a vast array of people. My job is (before placing clients in jobs of their own) to meet employers and listen to their needs, learn about their business and determine if a NEBA client can benefit their company. I am asked many questions about what NEBA is, what role it plays, etc. In some cases, a dialogue plays to a point of concern for me and my clientele. It usually goes a bit like this:

Employer: “So, you’re an employment agency? That means I have to pay extra fees to hire your people.”

Me: “Actually, that’s not the case! There are no additional fees to hire our job seekers. We are a non-profit agency working with state agencies to assist in placing qualified applicants.”

Employer: “Oh! You’re a charity. Well, leave some information and I’ll look it over. Thanks for coming in!”

Depending on the circumstances, I may or may not mention that NEBA serves the disabled population. This only enhances the notion that I represent a charity, as if my clients are looking for free money, donations, or some other handout. Of course, this is far from the truth. Still, many who hear the term “non-profit” almost automatically assume the term is interchangeable with “charity.”

NEBA is not a charity. Far from it.

Our designation as a 501(c)(3) non-profit simply means that any money we take in for providing services must be allocated towards services, staff, or anything else that helps us place individuals in jobs. Like any non-profit, we hold fundraisers to help enhance our services and award-winning best practices, as well as to bring awareness to our mission and goal. Our goal is to place people in real jobs for real pay. We do not provide handouts to those we support, but rather education, training and accommodations so they can be productive, taxpaying citizens in their communities.

Our clients have skills that would benefit businesses with needs to match, just like any other employment agency. Basically, without the word “disability” in our repertoire, our services are just like the for-profit agencies, save for the no-fee placement, coaching and education we provide to employers. Retention, turnover and employee efficiency are not foreign terms to us. Our employment consultants are well-versed in hiring practices, workplace accommodations, tax credit information and much more. Clients of NEBA are people with skills to showcase and who want to work where they are valued equally with other employees. Our clients are qualified, reliable candidates who look forward to the opportunity to grow with businesses that value their contributions. NEBA may be associated with “Disability, A to Z,” but we are also seen by employers of our clientele as “Employment, Hello to Hire and beyond.”

By hiring an individual served by NEBA, employers contribute to economic development via lowered state and federal subsidies and increased tax revenue. Many businesses are eligible for tax credits for hiring our clients. Our consultants work hard to ensure each job seeker is matched to the career path they most desire and that matches their skills, so that relationships with employers are naturally and mutually beneficial. Surely, the employee a company may hire is not a donation or handout, but a contributor to the company, community, and society…just like any other employee.

In NEBA’s 28+ years of existence, it and its staff have been called pioneers, innovative thinkers, advocates, economic developers, etc. Call us any of those things. Call us the agency that cares. Call us a run-of-the-mill employment agency if you wish.

Just don’t call us a charity.

-Ryan Aldrich

Senior Employment Consultant