The Role of Employment Missionaries
LDS Employment Resource Services (ERS) is centered on helping individuals achieve a better life for themselves and their families through gainful employment and self-reliance. To coordinate this effort, ERS operates 116 centers throughout the United States and Canada, and close to 90 percent of the staff is made up of missionaries. These missionaries are a vital part of every employment center. Often they are a person’s first contact with ERS, and they can set the tone for a job seeker’s entire experience.
If you are currently serving an ERS mission or are considering one, do not worry if you have never worked an office job or coached a job seeker. Skilled staff will provide training to help you successfully meet the needs of job seekers. Here is what they will train you to do:
Give Hope and Encouragement
Missionaries meet and greet each person who comes into the center or calls on the phone. As you meet with each job seeker, you will learn about their story, background, and challenges, and coach them about career resources and planning. Your service may help people realize their potential for self-reliance and career success, and you may be able to relieve some of the hopelessness that often accompanies unemployment and underemployment. Along with the practical help that ERS provides, your attitude and example can also remind others that Heavenly Father is mindful of their experiences and that He will help them.
Provide One-On-One Career Help
Some ERS missionaries become job coaches, teaching others how to search for jobs and how to create a career plan. You will likely work with individuals from a broad range of employment backgrounds—from entry-level to executive-level positions. Because every person’s job search will be a little bit different, your job will be to help people match their interests, talents, and experience with jobs that will help them provide for themselves and their families. You will be able to provide a knowledge of community resources as well as feedback about their job search skills.
Teach Workshops and Facilitate Networking Meetings
Some ERS missionaries teach employment workshops. You might be asked to teach the Career Workshop, which helps job seekers identify key work experiences they have had and craft effective ways to share those experiences. Missionaries may also teach the Self-Employment Workshop, which teaches the basics of starting a business. In addition to workshops there are other programs, such as the Accelerated Job Search Program, the Professional Placement Program, and networking meetings. These programs can be facilitated by employment staff, volunteers in the community, or missionaries.
Work with Priesthood Leaders
A large portion of the work you might do includes reaching out to local priesthood and auxiliary leaders. Some local leaders may be unaware that ERS exists, so they are trying to meet members’ employment needs on their own. Missionaries have the opportunity to reach out to leaders and offer support to the members in their congregations who have employment needs.
Meet with Community Leaders
Job seekers will not spend all of their time in the center, so you will have time and opportunities to reach out to people in the community. These people could include employers, other community employment organizations, and key contacts who are aware of job leads. You can set up times for employers to conduct interviews at the employment center, teach key contacts how to post job leads on ldsjobs.org, and help recruiters register on ldsjobs.org so they can search for potential candidates. This work is just as important as one-on-one coaching with job seekers because it enables you to connect job seekers with potential employment opportunities.
Use Your Life Experiences to Help Others
No matter what professional background you might have, the life skills that you have developed over a lifetime of work and service translate well into a job coaching setting. For example, employment, community volunteer work, service in the Church, and raising a family are all experiences you can draw from to benefit the job seekers you serve.
Share the Gospel
Whether working with a bishop or a nonmember, employment missionaries help the people they work with recognize God’s hand in their lives, even during a time of stress and difficulty. This gospel-centered career help provided by ERS is a source of both practical and spiritual help. And for those who are less active or are not members of the Church, the hope and encouragement you provide could be key in building their faith and softening their hearts. Employment missionaries have the blessing of sharing their testimonies through their actions as they selflessly love and serve as the Savior did.
Sister Lomax, who is serving an employment mission with her husband in Mesa, Arizona, said of her experience, “When we were asked to serve as LDS employment missionaries, we thought, ‘What do we know about helping people find work?’ Now we’ve served for a year and a half. [ERS] is the best-kept secret in the Church.”
She continued, “[ERS] humbles you to the core. You want to share it with everyone because it’s such a wonderful experience. Young missionaries get to see their investigators’ lives change, but we get to see lives change too. On our service mission we don’t proselyte, but we minister. It’s remarkable to see lives change and [see] how we are a part of that, and we thank the Lord every day for that privilege.”
To learn more about opportunities to serve as an employment missionary, visit the LDS Employment Resource Services website.