The Role of the Employment Specialist
Congratulations on being called as an employment specialist! As you begin helping members in your ward find or improve employment, you will be providing critical help in their times of need.
Employment struggles are incredibly challenging. They put stress on the job seeker emotionally, spiritually, and financially, and they often strain personal and family relationships. Many individuals are quietly suffering because they don’t feel comfortable sharing their employment struggles at church. As a ward employment specialist, you have the opportunity to seek out these brothers and sisters and give them the hope, encouragement, and help that they need.
Who Do You Help?
In your time as an employment specialist, you will likely see a variety of different job seekers. In addition to unemployed members of your ward, there may also be other members who will need your help (for a list of those you might help, see “Ward Councils: Responding to Employment Needs”). Part of your calling will be to figure out how you can best support many different members as they work toward becoming self-reliant.
How Do You Help?
As an employment specialist, you support individuals struggling with employment by:
- Learning all you can about coaching techniques and job search principles.
- Coordinating with ward and stake leaders.
- Identifying ward members who need help with employment.
- Regularly meeting with and mentoring those members who need help.
- Identifying resources in your ward, stake, and community.
In order to help job seekers on their career path, you need to learn as much as you can about job searching, employment, and self-reliance. A great way to get started is to review the materials on Ministering Resources: Employment. Then reach out to your stake employment specialist, or the high councilor assigned to welfare, to arrange for training.
Learn about Church resources, such as the LDS employment centers. Employment centers offer free workshops that can help people be better prepared as they look for a job, seek more education, or start their own business. Even if your nearest center is far away, the center staff can consult with you on how to help.
You can also take advantage of employment training from community resources such as networking groups, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. The LDSJobs website is another useful tool, with nearly 200 articles that help job seekers in various aspects of finding new employment.
Coordinate with Ward and Stake Leaders
Ward council meetings are a great opportunity to draw upon resources in the ward. Coordinate with the bishop and auxiliaries to identify those who need employment help, possible resources in the ward, and ways you can best assist the members. Offer to participate in ward council or auxiliary meetings, and report on members’ progress.
As you coordinate, be specific about what would be helpful to the members you are working with. You might help a job seeker find a mentor who is involved in a similar industry, arrange child care so that a job seeker can go to job interviews, or find contacts at a specific company. As you work with your local leaders, you may want to consider asking them if the members you are assisting have other needs that may be affecting their employment or career development.
Identify Ward Members Who Need Help with Employment
Your bishop and the quorum and Relief Society presidents are your most valuable resources because they typically know who has employment needs in your ward. In addition to asking for their recommendations, you might also want to find other ways to identify members with employment needs. Consider asking home and visiting teachers to share employment needs they are aware of, or introduce yourself at the beginning of Relief Society or priesthood meetings and let members know they can reach out to you for help.
Meet with Members
Once you have identified someone who could benefit from employment help, set regular meeting times. Use the questions listed in Ministering Resources to identify the job seeker’s needs and goals, and then work together to develop a plan. Follow up on his or her progress often, and create a safe environment for him or her to test ideas and strategies. A large part of your calling is to listen sincerely to new ideas and challenges that job seekers are facing and to offer frequent encouragement.
While every job seeker will have unique needs, there are some key job search principles you will want to coach all job seekers on, such as the following.
Develop a career plan. It’s difficult to help job seekers meet their goals until those goals are defined. Start by helping job seekers create a career plan, which involves choosing an occupation and establishing a plan for how to get there.
Develop a job search strategy. Job seekers are more successful when they create a job search plan. It allows them to be strategic in how they search and apply for job openings, and it increases their ability to focus on the most effective activities. Help job seekers create a plan and evaluate it regularly.
Teach job seekers how to present themselves well in writing. Résumés and cover letters are often the first thing that potential employers see when they are considering someone for a position, so it is vital to help job seekers present themselves in the best way possible. Learn about the different types of résumés so you can help others prepare the most effective résumés for their circumstances, and offer assistance in filling out applications and writing cover letters and thank-you cards.
Help them prepare for interviews and phone calls. Interviews and networking calls can be intimidating. However, these skills can be learned with practice. To help prepare job seekers to make a lasting impression, you can role-play with them. This will allow them the opportunity to better craft their responses and practice in a less stressful environment.
Identify Resources in the Ward and Community
In addition to coaching job seekers, a large part of being an employment specialist is to connect job seekers with resources such as companies, people, and organizations that will help them succeed. Tap into the network of the ward and discover what resources you have there. Learn the professions, industries, and companies of members in your ward. This will allow you to reach out if a job seeker needs a mentor, would like to do an informational interview, or has questions about a certain company.
You can also organize a way to share job opportunities that you hear about from ward members. You can do this through LDSJobs by submitting member leads that are only visible to members of your stake, or you can use a social media job board.
Research community resources such as governmental workforce services, networking groups, educational open houses, financial aid meetings, job fairs, and other beneficial meetings or events. Publicize them to members of your ward who might be interested. You may also consider teaching the Career Workshop or the Self-Employment Workshop or organizing other events that could teach valuable skills. Under your bishop’s approval, you might invite those who are receiving welfare assistance to attend the Career Workshop as a work assignment.
No matter who you are or what your professional background is, your employment support will bless the lives of countless individuals in your ward as you enable them to become self-reliant. By helping job seekers find employment, you will be aiding the stability of their family and increasing their standard of life.