Job Development: How to Establish Solid Employer Relationships
Job development is about engaging with employers to place clients in new positions (jobs). It’s also about supporting our clients in maintaining positions they already hold. In job development, establishing solid employer relationships positions us for success as we help our clients achieve their personal and professional goals.
I work as an Employment Services Coach at a not-for-profit human services agency in Calgary, Alberta. In this role, I support clients with developmental and intellectual disabilities find and maintain employment. I’d like to share some practices that have proven effective in developing strong relationships with employers for the benefit of my clients.
Employers expect to receive benefits from their relationship with job developers. After all, they are investing their time and resources in the partnership. They want the result to be worth the effort. Many employers, for example, have implemented tactics and strategies to make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive. I’ve found that a very effective way to establish solid employer relationships is to contribute to their learning. Our collaboration is an opportunity to deliver workshops, lunch-and-learn sessions, articles, and other information resources. By filling this need, human services organizations establish credibility with employers.
When we provide meaningful value, we earn an opportunity to advocate for our clients; ensuring the placement is safe, the work is meaningful, there is opportunity for growth, and the employer has implemented effective inclusion practices in the workplace.
Delivering value opens the door to creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders. We provide unique services to the employer to meet their needs and our clients get value and personal satisfaction from their work positions.
Employers make decisions on whether or not to work with us based upon how we present ourselves, support our clients, and represent our agencies. The relationships we develop with key organizational managers are always business-like and professional, and hopefully they evolve to become genuinely friendly. It is about being honest, transparent, responsive, and ethical in the relationship and in the supports we provide.
There are times in the relationship when we’ll need to advocate for our clients and address issues of concern. We make the effort to ensure our clients have a voice to express their needs and to ensure they have the highest quality of work life possible. In order to work out mutually beneficial solutions with employers, tact and diplomacy are very good skills to possess.
We take ownership and work to resolve conflicts when the supports we provide to employers do not meet their expectations. It’s essential to be flexible and practice good listening skills. The end goal is to negotiate solutions that are agreeable to all and, ultimately, benefit our clients.
Successful placements have a powerful impact on establishing long-term associations with employers. Our clients are expected to be “good hires” who have the right skillsets, experiences, and attitudes. Employers remember us from their experiences with the clients we place and the quality of supports we provide.
The work we do with our clients to prepare for the placement contributes to the development of solid employer relationships. Clients must “buy-in” to the position. It’s important that it aligns with their personal and professional goals. The clients we place need adequate preparation and learning to make the placement successful. Preparation may include covering topics such as how to navigate workplace culture and behave appropriately while on the job. We might also teach clients about problem-solving skills, career development, and self-care (wellness).
Follow Up with Employers
Following up is essential in solidifying and maintaining our relationships with employers. It demonstrates our commitment to the successful outcome of the placement and establishes our credibility.
It is easier to maintain relationships with employers when we have clients currently working for them. Following up with employers on an agreed-upon timetable is the best way to find out if the placement is going well. Employers like to be reassured that they can depend on coaching support to resolve any issues.
A big fear is to be forgotten by employers we’ve partnered with in the past. This can happen when we do not have clients currently working for them, or the hiring managers we had previously developed relationships with have moved on. It is helpful to contact employers on a regular basis to keep them informed and updated on the services we provide and to learn more about their organizational updates and changes. The investment of time and resources to keep up-to-date with employers is well worth the effort and minimizes the risk of having to start the relationship again from “ground zero.”
Focus on the “You” Factor
As a career development professional, you are an important factor. You bring unique experiences and skillsets to the table that are beneficial in working with clients and employers. Doing the job well is about aligning your values, beliefs, and attitudes with the desire to help and make a difference.
It is helpful to view the organizational managers we interact with as allies who want to make a difference. They seek to make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive and one way to make that happen is by reaching out to us. This is our opportunity to share our knowledge, experience, and expertise. We can think of ourselves as facilitators and connectors who serve to bring our clients and employers together to create successful placements.
Reaching out to employers can feel daunting when there may be the risk of rejection and failure. Take the time to focus on your own wellness and find ways to relieve stress. Despite our best efforts to connect with employers, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. We have to remember that there will always be future opportunities on the horizon.
Job development is about investing the time and resources to establish solid employer relationships. The end goal, of course, is to get clients placed in positions. As more employers embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace, our clients have greater opportunities to secure jobs. The relationships we develop with employers are dynamic and ever-changing and should never be taken for granted. It takes careful planning and organization to build, nurture, and maintain these valuable connections. The rewards are definitely worth the effort, though!
Brent Warman is a proud member of Career Professionals of Canada. He has extensive experience providing career coaching and employment services in the not-for-profit sector, at a post-secondary institution, and in private practice, serving clients from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life. Brent is a Certified Career Strategist (CCS) and a Certified Résumé Strategist (CRS) through Career Professionals of Canada.