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What are job search and placement services?

Job search and placement services include two different sets of activities — 1) services offered to participant workers to help them find permanent jobs, and 2) the work done to source and develop relationships with employers who will hire ESE participant workers into permanent positions. These two sides meet when participant workers are prepared for and matched with permanent employment opportunities. These activities are most relevant for employment social enterprises that offer transitional employment.

Note that some employment social enterprises choose to focus efforts on just the first set of activities – helping participants find permanent jobs. This is perhaps because they do not have the capacity for the second set of activities or, in some instances, because the organization holds a philosophical viewpoint that participant workers themselves should find jobs using the services offered by the organization. 

Why is it important?

  • Having job search and placement services enables employment social enterprises to:
    • Assist participants with finding and securing long-term, permanent positions that align with their skills, goals, and needs. 
    • Develop relationships with employers in the community, which can lead to permanent placement, and, in some cases, acquisition of new customers and donors.
    • Highlight the core of the employment social enterprise model, which is ultimately about connecting participant workers to a labor market that has previously shut them out.

Best practices   

Provide supports and guidance to participants as they begin thinking about and conducting their job search

  • Define and continuously communicate clear participant worker transition milestones. Working backwards from the final exit / transition from the social enterprise, link the appropriate milestone to the beginning of efforts for the participant worker to search for and prepare for work outside your social enterprise. 
  • At the milestone, use an assessment tool to evaluate participants’ personal and professional readiness to transition to permanent employment outside your social enterprise – to confirm that a participant is ready before starting the job search.
    • Research has shown that the more participant workers reported feeling connected to staff at the employment social enterprise, the more likely they were to have a positive exit from the organization, suggesting the importance of building relationships between staff and participant workers. You might include an assessment question such as “How connected do you feel to staff at our organization?”
    • Further, the less fearful participant workers reported being about succeeding in another job, the more likely they were to have positive exits, suggesting the need to shore up participant worker confidence that they will succeed in future careers. You might include an assessment question asking participants to respond to the following statement on a scale of 0 (least fearful) to 4 (most fearful) “I’m fearful that I won’t be able to succeed in another job outside of this organization.” 
  • Encourage participants to look for permanent positions and support them in doing so.
    • Example supports include providing computer access, the latest labor market information in a digestible format, lists of local businesses with friendly hiring practices, job search peer groups, onsite job fairs, alumni panels and contacts, appropriate clothing for interviews, and paid time to job search. 
    • Online interviews, in particular, have become commonplace for many employers. Provide participant workers with tailored coaching and resources so that they are better able to prepare for and navigate this hiring format. 
  • Provide direct help by building applicant “portfolios” (resume and cover letter) and offering interview preparation sessions. This may take the form of workshops, mock interviews, and one-on-one support. 
  • Coach participant workers to articulate their career goals and help them understand how different roles translate into achieving their goals. 
  • Discuss the reality of a benefits cliff with participant workers and help them work through how they may / may not be impacted. 

Engage in job development to source quality employment opportunities for participants

  • Outline a job development strategy that prioritizes quality jobs (e.g., that offer a career pathway, living wages, and benefits) and targets industries and positions that are a good fit with both your focus population and the skills, knowledge, and experience that participants have gained while working at your social enterprise.
  • Work to build and expand hiring partnerships with local employers.
    • Stay up to date on your local labor market information to know what businesses are hiring and the types of positions available. Use this information to guide and prioritize your employer outreach efforts. Local and regional economic development agencies often have helpful data on labor market demand.
    • Identify “friendly” employers to approach (e.g., companies that demonstrate a commitment to fair chance / inclusive hiring or social responsibility at large, or organizations that your social enterprise has connections to, partners).
    • Understand the needs and values of potential employers, as well as the details of available positions, to ensure they would be a good fit with the needs, interests, and skills of your participants.
    • Make the “business case” to potential employers. Highlight the advantages of hiring participants who have trained, worked in, and graduated from your social enterprise – including soft and hard skills training, on-the-job training, employer incentives (like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and the Federal Bonding Program), and ongoing retention services.
  • Map out a structured process for job development that is supported by data collection. For instance, your process might look something like this: identify employer prospects, conduct outreach, qualify leads, nurture relationships, source positions, make employee matches, gather feedback, and make improvements. 
  • Implement and maintain a customer relationship management (CRM) system to comprehensively track employer leads and relationships, particularly using the system to identify those relationships that are currently very fruitful (this will allow participants to leverage recent alumni connections and hiring momentum) and those that may be poor fits (this will minimize wasting efforts on the employer). 

Offer job placement support that focuses on participants’ strengths, needs and aspirations to find “good fit” employment opportunities

  • Actively partner with both participant workers and employers to find the right job match, considering factors such as skills alignment, physical limits, scheduling constraints, workplace environment, professional goals, transportation demands, and benefits.
  • Address any past job issues or losses when placing participants into new roles. Understand the factors that led to a participant’s past job losses and determine if they could still be an issue in potential new roles. Identify targeted retention supports or services that could help the participant and look for positions with favorable conditions.

Additional Resources