Tips for Connecting with Employers
Though the economy is improving, finding a job is often challenging. One of the first steps toward securing a rewarding job for the people you support involves connecting with the people who create those jobs.
Suzy Hutcheson is the president and CEO of Helping People Succeed, Foundation Inc. of Stuart, Florida. She is an expert at finding creative methods to make those connections between employment professionals and employers.
“Since 1985, Helping People Succeed has placed literally thousands of individuals into employment,” Hutcheson notes. Currently, the organization has an 85–87% retention rate. We spoke to Hutcheson about techniques she and her staff use to gain employers’ trust and lay the groundwork for hiring.
Hutcheson urges employment professionals to really know the business they are targeting. Without understanding the company in question, you won’t know if they’re a good fit, what kind of work they might have, or even who to contact.
“First of all, do your research,” she notes. “We go online, canvass our staff to see if they know anyone at the company, read newspapers, and more. Even anecdotal information that we get around the neighborhood.”
With that research, you can often find the right person with whom to meet. “Usually, you will meet with a company’s human resource department,” Hutcheson explains. “If you start with the CEO, they have so much on their mind they often aren’t helpful.”
“However, if it’s a small business without a human resource department, our specialists will speak with whomever will talk with them,” she says. “We don’t go in and say, ‘Do you have any jobs?’ We want to know what they do—it’s an informational gathering.”
Helping People Succeed encourages its staff members to join civic clubs in the area, and the organization covers those membership fees. “Our staff belongs to the Rotary, Kiwanis, and other civic clubs,” says Hutcheson. “We belong to Chambers of Commerce in the area and have staff attend meetings, to get our business cards out there and to get some, too.”
“If you can infiltrate the entire business system in your areas, then you become their normal, part of their landscape,” Hutcheson notes. “Here, it is not unusual for business leaders to see one of my employment specialists. Repeated meetings mean that people get comfortable with you.”
This kind of knowledge, along with the best training, can help you bridge the gap between the people you support and great jobs. The DirectCourse/College of Employment Services curriculum, and especially our “Strategies for Job Development” courses, can help give you the skills that you need to maneuver within this complex environment.