Those who serve in an ERC are to follow the Lord’s charge to lift and strengthen those they serve (see D&C 81:5). Whether you provide a friendly greeting, a helpful answer, or a listening ear, you should find ways to show that you care about those you serve.
In order to best serve candidates, ERC staff members need to be familiar with the standard services of ERS and the different tools available to assist candidates. This section describes these services and core tools. For examples of how to match candidates with the resources that will be most useful to them, see Orientation Lesson 3, “Resources for Job Placement, Career Development, and Small Business Management.”
2.2 Intake and Assessment
One of the most important services you will offer at the ERC is the candidate intake process.Remember the adage, “People before paperwork.” Regardless of your title and whether you’re paid or you’re a volunteer, you are responsible for establishing the culture of your office.
Director of First Impressions
Picture the last business establishment you walked into unannounced. Perhaps it was a restaurant, a doctor’s office, or a government agency. How were you received? How quickly were your needs met?How satisfied overall were you with the experience?
If you were to visit one of Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest call centers, you would come to a greater understanding of what customer service is all about. Immediately upon entering the building, you would be greeted by two women, the directors of first impressions. As they quickly engage you in conversation, you will find your every need is efficiently and professionally being met.
Although few notice the Director of First Impressions placard on the reception desk, these women know it is there and fully understand the role they play for their organization. This is why the Director of First Impressions placard came into play at the ERCs. Every ERC should have this placard in plain view to serve as a reminder of the importance a first impression can make.
You are a director of first impressions. It is your responsibility to ensure that individuals feel welcome and comfortable when they walk through your doors. Create an atmosphere that encourages them to return; as they do, they will encourage others to join them.
As someone enters the office:
- Promptly pause to acknowledge their presence.
- Offer a warm welcome by greeting each individual with a smile and a handshake.
- Try to learn, remember, and use each person’s name.
- Help each feel welcome and at ease.
- Listen to understand their needs.
After attentively listening to candidates as they explain their needs or the reasons why they’ve come to the ERC, have them sign in at the front desk. Having individuals sign in gives a record of visitors and gathers phone numbers that can be used for follow-up conversations with candidates.
Some candidates will call into the center rather than come in. When answering the telephone, please use the ERS standard telephone greeting:
“LDS Employment Resource Services, this is _____________. How may I help you?”
Ask questions that will help you understand the needs of the individual. Sometimes when people call the center for the first time, they’re nervous and provide vague answers to your questions. Asking specific, open-ended questions catered to their needs and responses will help you get more information from the caller. Examples of open-ended questions may include:
- What kind of employment have you had in the past?
- What kind of schooling have you completed?
- What career path are you interested in pursuing?
- What have you done so far to work toward your career goals?
- Do you have specific career goals in mind?
If the individual has questions for you (which they undoubtedly will), answer them with a caring and compassionate attitude that shows you want to help. If you don’t know the answer to a question they ask, be honest and tell them you aren’t sure; however, let them know that you want to help them find the answer.
The most important aspect of telephone conversations with individuals is making sure you leave them with a positive impression and memorable experience. They should walk away from the phone call with a strong sense of your willingness and ability to help them with their employment needs.
2.3 Individualized Career Planning
After you have identified a candidate’s needs, you can begin to help him or her with career planning.The first step is to assist him or her in creating a profile on LDSJobs.org.
On LDSJobs.org there is a database of candidate profiles; this is where a candidate’s career plans and progress are documented. This information is incredibly helpful to candidates, as well as Church leaders, employment specialists, ERC staff, and employers searching for potential applicants via the website.
Profiles include information regarding a candidate’s:
- Long-term goals and action items, including immediate needs and interests
- Work experience
- Contact Information (name, e-mail, phone, fax)
- “Me in 30 Seconds” statements (refer to the article “‘Me in 30 Seconds’ Statements” on LDSJobs.org)
- Power statements (refer to the article “Power Statements” on LDSJobs.org)
The best candidate profiles are created, developed, and refined over time. Candidate profiles will not likely be completed in one day or after one visit to the ERC. It is a process that should be updated and improved along the way.
Although it is important for candidates to take time to complete their profiles, their information will not be visible to employers or other resources until it is at least 90 percent complete and they verify that they want it to be visible. This gives candidates complete control of the profile so they can postpone its visibility until they are ready. However, encourage candidates to complete their profiles as soon as possible; this will strengthen their ability to find a job. More candidates and more resources bring more credibility to LDSJobs.org.
It may be appropriate for ERS staff and ward or stake leaders and specialists to help individuals who lack necessary skills (i.e., computer, language or other) to register for an LDS Account and create a profile on LDSJobs.org. It is against ERS policy to register or create a profile for another person. ERS candidates should actively participate in the process of registration and creation of a profile, understand what is being done, and agree to allow their information to be stored in the web database according to the Conditions of Use policy. They should also retain their own username and password for future reference.
If you encounter candidates who have forgotten their sign-in information, have them click on the link that says, “Having Problems Signing In?” This is located underneath the boxes for user name and password. This information will be sent to the e-mail that the candidate used to register for an LDS Account. If you encounter a first-time candidate who has already created an LDS account but has forgotten the username and information, and has also changed the email address that was used, you may need to contact headquarters for help.
The Career Planning Process
ERC staff works with candidates to discuss their talents, interests, and experience. In partnership with ward leaders, they help candidates identify career goals and create a plan for achieving those goals,coaching and encouraging them along the way.
It is critical that stake and ward leaders be involved throughout this process. They should be contacted on a regular basis and given an update of the candidate’s progress at the ERC. To see examples of how to appropriately follow up with leaders, see Orientation Lesson 7, “Helping Candidates: Following Up.”
The career planning process includes five key elements that build a candidate’s self-reliance plan:
- Career Objective
The first step in the process of helping a candidate create a career plan is to identify the interests of that candidate. This is accomplished most effectively by asking candidates a series of questions that allow them to assess what their talents are and how those talents can apply to a career.
- Income Target
After candidates discover a career objective that interests them, help them determine whether the entry-level salary for that career will be able to provide financial support for themselves and their families.
Sometimes candidates will not know how much income is required to provide their financial support. If this is the case, there may be resources available in the community or in their ward or stake to help them create a budget. Help candidates identify a resource to help them with this task, contacting their priesthood leaders for suggestions if necessary.
You should also provide information on the growth trends of their career choice. In terms of growth trends, jobs typically fall into one of three categories: growing, declining, or stagnant. Trends may also suggest the rate at which these jobs are growing or declining or for how long their growth has been stagnant.
Every candidate will have particular needs that will need to be met before they can reach their career goals. These needs might include financial aid information, interviewing skills, educational training information, or tips for resource interaction. Services that can help may or may not be available through the ERC.
Allow candidates to determine what they need to reach their career goals by asking questions that will require more than yes or no answers. As candidates answer questions, they will likely discover obstacles preventing them from reaching their goals. Work with the candidates to determine how these obstacles can be overcome.
Candidates may also recognize obstacles as they work on their LDSJobs profile. In the profile, candidates have the opportunity to identify and record their long-term career goals. They should also create their action plan. The action plan should include specific steps to help them overcome obstacles that may be preventing them from reaching their long-term career goals. Coach candidates throughout this process.
There are a variety of resources that could potentially help candidates meet their career goals, including family, friends, ward members, community organizations, or educational institutions. Help candidates identify the resources available to them.
For example, you might recommend to a self-employment candidate that he or she contact a microcredit lender the ERC has already networked. Many of the resources a candidate needs should be available through relationships developed by the ERC. As you interact with resources and develop relationships with them, record the details in the progress notes of each resource’s LDSJobs profile. Record specific characteristics and needs of the organization as well.
You can see examples of how to develop resource relationships in Orientation Lesson 6, “Helping Candidates: Providing Resources.”
Committing candidates to take action toward their career goals is essential. The actions you and candidates outline together should be realistic and specific to their needs.
For example, if you are working with a chronically underemployed candidate, it may not be realistic to challenge him or her to acquire two job interviews before your next meeting. Instead, you may want to challenge him or her to be on time for the next appointment with you at the center.
Creating a deadline for the action is also essential. Some candidates will require more time to complete even the most basic actions. Others will complete a number of tasks in a short amount of time.
Determine with the candidate who they should notify when the action has been completed. This may be the bishop, an elders quorum or Relief Society president, a mentor, or an ERC staff member.
Although this is the basic structure for career planning, this process will vary with each candidate. Some candidates will require far more time and attention. Other candidates will be so far ahead in their career plan that they might merely request your verification of plans they’ve already developed.
You will find that there will be some candidates who are resistant to this process and only come to the ERC for job leads or information on resources. Don’t attempt to force them to participate in career planning. Remember that the career planning process should not get in the way of helping individuals with their immediate needs. Instead, address their immediate needs in order to build a relationship of trust. Once a trusting relationship has developed, it will become easier for you to help individuals see the advantages of creating a career plan with you.
For examples of how to effectively coach candidates through these five key elements, refer to Orientation Lesson 5, “Help Candidates: Planning.”
As you help candidates develop their career plans, introduce the specific services ERS can offer them and encourage them to participate. These services will include:
- Training services, including workshops (see section 2.6, “Career Self-Reliance Training”)
- Resource relationships (see section 4, “Resource Development,” and Orientation Lesson 6, “Helping Candidates: Providing Resources.”)
- One-on-one coaching (see the LDSJobs articles “Writing a Resume or Curriculum Vitae” and “Successful Interview Techniques”)
2.4 One-on-One Coaching
One of the most important reasons why ERS provides training services is to offer candidates hope. Speaking of the vital importance of hope, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:
“Hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and charity. These three stabilize our lives regardless of the rough or uneven surfaces we might encounter at the time. …
“Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness. Its absence—when this desire of our heart is delayed—can make ‘the heart sick.’ …
“Hope is critical to both faith and charity. … The brighter our hope, the greater our faith. The stronger our hope, the purer our charity” (“The Infinite Power of Hope,” Ensign, Nov. 2008, 21, 23–24).
You will see as you help candidates plan or enroll in workshops that many have no confidence in their own ability to achieve their career goals. Your coaching is instrumental in helping cultivate confidence within these candidates. Follow the promptings of the Spirit and do your best to remind candidates of their temporal and eternal worth to Heavenly Father and others. As they work to accomplish their goals and strengthen their God-given talents, their confidence will grow.
ERC staff should be prayerful and perceptive while coaching candidates through their career objectives. Some candidates may desire career goals that do not seem to align with their natural abilities or the abilities they could likely gain. Although this may be the case in some instances, you should never discourage a candidate from pursuing their career desires. Telling candidates they are not fit for a certain career or qualified to achieve their desired career goals will make them feel discouraged and become skeptical of your advice.
Instead, approach this situation the same way you would if candidates had a career objective in mind that seemed to suit them perfectly. Ask questions that will help candidates determine for themselves:
- How attainable their career, education, or self-employment objective is.
- Whether the entry-level salary for that objective would support them and their families.
- What steps they would need to take to reach this objective, which might include first obtaining a job to provide funding for their goals.
- How long this objective would take to accomplish when considering their talents, resources, and financial aid options.
As candidates adjust their career objective to accommodate their short-term and long-term goals, remember to be patient. Always word your comments so they are encouraging, not criticizing. You are providing an invaluable service that is meant to offer hope and support for the betterment of your candidates: “LDS Employment Resource Centers [provide] services to help … people through career training, education, improved employment, and self-employment training. But more than improved employment, LDS Employment Resource Services [helps] to restore hope, peace, and confidence to individuals and families” (Jennifer Williams, “Way Beyond the Help-Wanted Ads,” Ensign, July 2009, 64).
There are some candidates who may need tough feedback. Before giving them this feedback, ask them for permission. If you have candidates who do not want constructive criticism, respect their wishes and do not offer it. If, however, you provide this feedback in a caring manner, demonstrating to candidates that you are concerned about their welfare, most will likely accept your request to give them suggestions. To learn more about offering constructive criticism, refer to the Career Workshop Teacher’s Guide.
In your coaching, you should also help candidates recognize their transferable skills.
For examples of good and less effective coaching techniques, refer to Orientation Lesson 5 “Helping Candidates: Planning,” and Lesson 6, “Helping Candidates: Providing Resources.” Also read the article “Being a Mentor,” on LDSJobs.org.
2.5 Following Up
Initiating follow-up with candidates and providing a steady source of encouragement is one of the best services ERC staff can offer. Contact each candidate on a regular basis, regardless of the service requested. During a time of uncertainty, like unemployment, individuals need focused encouragement through frequent contact. Initiate follow-up in person at weekly networking group meetings, if possible. You should also:
- Contact each candidate at least biweekly by telephone, letter, or e-mail.
- Report results regularly to bishops and employment specialists.
- Keep track of results in candidate progress notes on LDSJobs.org.
Prior to contacting each individual, review his or her LDSJobs profile (specifically the progress notes) to review the candidate’s goals and progress. This will help you know what both of you have already committed to do, what the candidate should be working on, and what you could address during future coaching and follow-up.
Follow-up is not just for candidates who have met with an employment specialist or ERC staff—it’s also for those who have registered on LDSJobs.org. LDSJobs will notify you each time a new user registers. Call these new candidates within a few days to see what questions they might have and to offer suggestions on their profiles.
Providing Effective Follow-up
In order to provide effective follow-up, you’ll want to keep track of a candidate’s progress. This should be done in the progress notes of their profile on LDSJobs.org. After your first conversation, enter the candidate’s career goals, along with the reasons for and process of coming to those goals. Be sure to specify the actions they’re going to take to reach those goals.
For each additional contact with the candidate, specify what progress has been made and what actions they’ll focus on next. An ideal profile provides enough details for others who may be working with the candidate to perform effective follow-up.
Follow-up conversations should include useful information that will be meaningful for candidates. Asking them if they’ve yet found a job is not helpful or meaningful to their career goals. Instead, offer information to candidates that will encourage them to remain focused on their career goals. This may include useful job search tips, news about an upcoming event at the ERC, a link to helpful articles from the LDSJobs website, or an invitation for personalized coaching and assistance.
Refer to Orientation Lesson 7, “Helping Candidates: Following Up,” for examples of effective follow-up techniques. This lesson will provide you with tools and techniques for successful interaction with candidates as well as examples of good and less effective follow-up conversations between a staff member and a candidate.
Using E-mail to Follow-up
When sending e-mails to candidates, you have a wonderful opportunity to communicate the value of ERS and help them consider aspects of their job search, career development, and self-employment pursuits differently. You also have the opportunity to share useful information and offer the personalized services of the ERC.
You can use LDSJobs.org to send e-mails to very specific groups of candidates, such as education candidates who are investigating funding options, self-employment candidates who are improving their existing business, or employment candidates who are just networking. Because of this feature, your e-mails can be focused for the benefit of particular candidates.
Below are examples of e-mails that should and should not be sent to ERC candidates. First, read through a less-effective example and see if you can pinpoint what makes it unhelpful.
- Less-Effective E-mail for Job Search Candidates
“Because the ERC is concerned about your current employment situation, we are requesting an update on your employment status. If you’ve found a job, please tell us where you’re employed. If you’re still looking, please update us on that as well. If the ERC can help with your job search, please let us know.”
Notice that this e-mail is focused on what the candidate can do for the ERC. This is not the impression you want to leave with candidates. Instead, you should offer your help to candidates. It is not their responsibility to make your job easier; rather, it is your responsibility to help alleviate some of their anxiety as they search for jobs.
Now read an e-mail that would prove useful for job search candidates.
- Effective E-mail for Job Search Candidates
“When you respond to a job posting by either submitting your resume or filling out an application, you may be shuffled into the mix of all the other applicants. Sometimes there will be hundreds of applicants applying for the same job as you! But there are things you can do to stand out in the crowd. Learn more from the LDSJobs article “Standing Out in the Crowd” or visit us at the ERC for additional tips and one-on-one coaching for resumes. Our employment advisers are eager to help you with your specific needs, so come see us!”
Notice that this e-mail is focused on how the ERC helps candidates. It offers useful tips regarding resumes and applications and even directs candidates to an article where they can learn more. It also encourages candidates to visit the ERC and receive personalized, one-on-one help with their job search. This gives candidates confidence that the ERC cares about individuals.
E-mail also offers a great opportunity to introduce and direct individuals to the LDSJobs website. Where possible, direct candidates to the website because of the valuable resources they will find there.
- Less-Effective E-mail for Career Development Candidates
“Gaining more education can really help you get a job making more money. It would be a good idea for you to find a few training programs in the community that look good and start applying. Let the ERC know what programs you apply to and where you get accepted. If you need some help figuring out which schools are in your area, come to the ERC for a brochure. Also, if you need to find a part-time job to pay your way through school, register on the LDSJobs website and start searching through job postings. The website is a great resource.”
Perhaps the most obvious problem with this e-mail is that it leaves everything in the hands of candidates. There is no specific assistance, advice, or encouragement offered. There is also no attempt to make candidates feel welcome to call, e-mail, or visit the ERC for specific help with their education plans. Many candidates will be less likely to achieve their goals without focused encouragement and personalized offers to help from the ERC.
- Useful E-mail for Career Development Candidates
“If you’re thinking about getting more education or training, come into the ERC. Our employment advisers can help you explore your career options and determine which school will give you the best education for the best value. We can also teach you how to navigate through the database of education resources on LDSJobs.org. The resources listed there, along with one-on-one coaching with one of our employment advisers, can help you decide where to attend school, how to pay for your training, and more.
“We’d also like to invite you to attend the education fair we’re hosting in two weeks. This would be a great opportunity for you to speak to representatives from dozens of schools and vocational programs. If you’re unsure of the types of questions you should ask these reps, or if you can’t pinpoint where your talents and interests lie, please come see us at the ERC. We want to help you discover your interests, potential, and options before you jump back into school.”
One of the key reasons why this e-mail is successful and useful is because it is explicit in letting candidates know that the ERC wants to help. It also informs and invites candidates to participate in a specific event (an education fair). In a real e-mail, you would provide a specific date, time, and location for such an event so candidates do not have to seek out those details on their own.
Once again, candidates are directed to LDSJobs.org via the education resource database. This database is full of resources that could help candidates because of existing relationships with the ERC.
- Less-Effective E-mail for Self-Employment Candidates
“Thousands of small businesses fail every year, so it’s important for you know exactly what you’re getting into. The Self-Employment Workshop we offer at the ERC can help you decide if you really want to take the chance of starting your own small business. Call to sign up or let us know how else we can help you with your self-employment goals.”
Focusing on the negative aspects of any career choice is inappropriate and will cause candidates to become discouraged with their goals. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects, provide tips and resources to help candidates gain confidence in their goals and potential success.
Don’t expect candidates to “let you know” what kind of help they need. Oftentimes, they don’t know how the ERC could benefit them because they’re unaware of the services available. It is your responsibility to give them specific details about the services you offer.
- Useful E-mail for Self-Employment Candidates
“There are many benefits to running your own business, but getting it off the ground can be difficult if you’re unprepared. LDS Employment Resource Services can help you prepare to start your own small business. We offer a Self-Employment Workshop that helps you refine your ideas, develop a well-researched business plan, outline a strategy, and identify the financial needs of your business. This can also be a great learning tool for those who are trying to improve their existing business.
“For those who have already taken the workshop, there are a variety of additional services the ERC offers just for you, one of which is a database of small business resources with whom we’ve created working relationships for your benefit. Come into the ERC for information about our relationships with these resources and personalized help with your self-employment goals.”
This e-mail is useful because it provides details about how and why the workshop is beneficial for different types of self-employment candidates. In a real e-mail, you would provide a specific date, time, and location for the workshop so candidates do not have to seek out those details on their own. This e-mail also directs candidates to the self-employment resource database on LDSJobs.org.
The most important aspect of e-mail communication with individuals is making sure you leave them with a positive impression and memorable experience. They should walk away from the e-mail with a strong sense of your willingness and ability to help them with their employment needs.
Managing Your Caseload
Because you provide follow-up to both active candidates and their priesthood leaders, your caseload may sometimes seem large or daunting. Listed below are some ways you can keep your caseload manageable for the amount of time you serve in the center each week:
Update your list
Sometimes candidates will find a job or begin a training program without telling you. If you have people on your list you haven’t been able to reach in a long time, check with their ward employment specialists or others to see if they still need ERC services.
Schedule out time
Set aside some blocks of time each week that you’ll devote to follow-up calls or visits. Analyze how many candidates you have and how frequently you need to initiate follow-up with each. You can calculate how many contacts you should make per day in order to reach all your candidates at regular times each week.
Schedule in time
Initiate in-person follow-up with candidates. This will allow you to continue to coach them as they proceed. Remember, follow-up is not simply a means of finding out whether a candidate has found a job. Meaningful follow-up involves additional coaching, and additional coaching will help candidates focus on achieving their career goals. As you help candidates stay focused, placements and enrollments will occur.
Vary your methods
Instead of contacting your candidates the same way each time, vary your methods. One week it may be better to meet personally with a candidate; another week you could call; and some weeks you may just send a brief e-mail. This can make follow-up with the candidate seem less routine and more personal. Make sure you are accommodating each candidate’s schedule.
Organize cases by commonalities
You may want to devote one day to providing follow-up to your professional job seekers, another day to students, and another day to self-employment candidates. You could also spend time focusing specifically on those candidates who have not participated in the Career Workshop, Self-Employment Workshop, Professional Placement Program, or Networking Groups. Since there tends to be common needs among similar groups, focusing on a specific group at a time may help you be more efficient.
2.6 Career Self-Reliance Training
The ERC offers several services to help candidates become better prepared to meet the ever-changing employment market. These training services include the Career Workshop, Self-Employment Workshop, Professional Placement Program, and Networking Groups. Encourage candidates to attend these training services as appropriate for their needs. For more information about these services, see Orientation Lesson 3, “Resources for Job Placement, Career Development, and Small Business Management.”
For specific teaching techniques and standards, such as the use of PowerPoint presentations or presentation etiquette, refer to section 8, “Teaching in the ERC,” of this operations guide and Orientation Lesson 11, “Teaching Techniques.”
The following sections explain the training services in more detail.
2.7 The Career Workshop
The Career Workshop is beneficial for virtually every candidate who comes into the ERC, whether they are job ready or just starting to develop career plans. This workshop is offered because it has been proven to dramatically help shorten job-search time for those who actively put its principles into practice. Just a few of the principles and techniques the Career Workshop offers include helping candidates:
- Realize and make career goals.
- Develop a plan of action.
- Create impressive job documents, including resumes.
- Learn proper interviewing techniques.
- Understand and participate in valuable networking.
When people believe their resources or skills are limited, they have little hope that they can achieve their goals. This can create a self-defeating attitude, which leads to the cycle of self-defeat. The cycle of self-defeat begins when an individual perceives that they have limited talents and goals. They often believe they have limited talents and goals because of limited resources or a lack of necessary skills. These negative perceptions work together to cause individuals to assume that there are limited employment opportunities available to them, leaving them with a sense of hopelessness and continued failure.
From the scriptures, we read that “gifts come by the Spirit of Christ … unto every man severally” (Moroni 10:17), yet, “there are different ways that these gifts are administered … to profit them” (Moroni 10:8). Every individual is given unique and precious talents from the Savior, and it is often with your help that individuals will recognize these talents. This is often the beginning of the cycle of self-reliance.
The cycle of self-reliance begins when individuals recognize their talents and begin making career goals. The cycle continues as individuals identify and learn how to interact with valuable resources, providing them with hope and confidence. This renewed sense of hope and confidence will start individuals down a path of continued success as they begin achieving their career goals.
Following the points of the self-reliance cycle, the Career Workshop is taught in four units:
1. My Goals
This unit helps participants evaluate their talents, interests, and values; set goals; and develop a plan to achieve those goals. The individual plans can include goals for employment, education, or self-employment.
2. My Resources
This unit helps participants learn how to identify and develop the resources they need to reach their goals. It teaches them how to find employment leads, educational and self-employment funding, and other community services.
3. My Interaction with Resources
This unit helps participants learn how to communicate with the resources they’ve identified. It teaches them how to make powerful impressions in interviews and present themselves well in writing.
4. My Continued Success
This unit teaches participants how to negotiate, grow in their new position, and advance in their career.
Learning vs. Lecture
The Career Workshop is substantially different than a traditional lecture. Your focus should be on helping the candidates learn and encouraging them to participate fully during the entire workshop. Invite them to make comments and share experiences where they’ve applied the things they are learning in the workshop. Candidates will not truly be able to learn the principles taught if they don’t have a chance to make associations with their past experience and find application to their current job search.
The Career Workshop is intended to last 10–12 hours and can be taught in 2–4 sessions. As a general rule, the entire workshop should be completed within two weeks of the first meeting. When the Career Workshop utilizes the entire 12-hour allotment, it becomes an incredibly beneficial experience for candidates. In attempts to shorten the Career Workshop, valuable practice activities are often dismissed.
Candidates should be given plenty of time to review their resumes and practice mock interviews during the Career Workshop. For more information on coaching candidates on their resumes and interviewing skills, please refer to section 2.4, “One-on-One Coaching.” To see models of recommended techniques for teaching ERS workshops, refer to Orientation Lesson 11, “Teaching Techniques.”
Most individuals who come into the ERC can benefit from either the Career Workshop or the Career Workshop adapted for professionals, which is part of the Professional Placement Program. It is not difficult to see how advantageous the workshop is for job placement candidates, but it can be incredibly beneficial for career development and small business management candidates as well.
For career development candidates, the workshop is helpful because it can help them learn to:
- Set achievable short-term and long-term career goals.
The first unit of the workshop helps participants set career goals and develop a plan to achieve those goals.
- Create impressive application materials.
Applying to college or a vocational training program is often only half the battle for individuals looking to improve their skills and education. Many will need to apply for scholarships or other forms of financial aid as well, which may require them to write letters of intent or letters of request.
Although the workshop facilitator may not have time to discuss these documents specifically or in great detail, many of the same principles found in writing effective resumes and cover letters apply to these documents as well.
- Present themselves professionally in interviews.
There are many college and vocational institutions that will require candidates to participate in one or more interviews before they are accepted into the program.
Candidates must be equipped to present themselves professionally in these interviews if they expect to get into their program of choice. Practice interviews can dramatically help candidates be persuasive and powerful during real interviews.
For self-employment candidates, the workshop can be helpful because it can help them learn to:
- Set achievable short-term and long-term goals for their business.
The first unit of the workshop helps participants set career goals and develop a plan to achieve those goals.
- Present themselves and their business professionally.
“Me in 30 Seconds” statements are adapted during the Self-Employment Workshop and referred to as “My Business in 30 Seconds” statements. Presenting a business idea professionally and skillfully to resources that can help is critical for any self-employment candidate.
- Identify and interact with resources.
There are a number of resources that small business management candidates can look to for support. Some of these resources may include their family, friends, small business organizations, and lending institutions. The Career Workshop uses various activities to help candidates identify and interact with these resources for a beneficial outcome.
The Career Workshop can provide helpful tools and information for some small business management candidates, but is not necessary for all. The Self-Employment Workshop is most beneficial for these candidates and should be strongly encouraged by the ERC and local Church leaders.
The Career Workshop Participant’s Workbook and posters can be ordered through Distribution Services in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. For all other available languages, visit LDSJobs.org. The Career Workshop Teacher’s Guide, not available in distribution centers, can also be accessed in multiple languages online at LDSJobs.org.
2.8 The Self-Employment Workshop
The Self-Employment Workshop is different from other workshops because of the way success is defined. Success in this workshop is not necessarily achieved only when a candidate starts or improves their business (though that is the overarching goal). Some candidates find success by realizing that self-employment may not be right for them. Success is achieved in the Self-Employment Workshop when candidates find what works for them, and for some, it’s not self-employment.
Remember, one of your primary responsibilities at the ERC is to be encouraging and supportive of all candidates. There may be particular candidates who simply don’t seem cut out for self-employment. Do not discourage them from participating fully in the workshop. Oftentimes these types of candidates will recognize for themselves during the workshop that self-employment may not be their best option. Other times they may surprise you with their managerial or entrepreneurial abilities. Whatever the case may be, encourage them to explore all their options for success.
The Self-Employment Workshop is taught in five sections:
This section introduces candidates to the need for a well-researched business plan. It then helps lay a business foundation by assisting candidates to identify their skills and business characteristics. Once a foundation has been laid, the remaining four sections will help candidates build from specific cornerstones.
2. The Business Idea (Cornerstone #1)
This first cornerstone helps candidates refine their business ideas. It also provides tools to help them describe themselves and their business idea in positive ways.
3. The Market Analysis (Cornerstone #2)
This cornerstone helps candidates outline a business strategy. Candidates will discover more about their potential market, industry, customers, and competitors.
4. The Marketing Strategy (Cornerstone #3)
During this cornerstone, candidates will be introduced to four key elements to any successful marketing approach: product (service), price, place, and promotion.
5. The Financial Analysis (Cornerstone #4)
This final cornerstone helps candidates understand how much it will cost to start and maintain a business. It also introduces them to possible financing options.
Learning vs. Lecture
The workshop is not meant to be a lecture. It is a series of activities designed to help candidates evaluate their business ideas from the perspective of an entrepreneur. Candidates will learn to apply basic business concepts to help them create a more successful business strategy as they actively participate in the workshop and in their own personal research. They will study an existing business case study, develop a mock business plan with a group, and develop and present their real business plans.
The total workshop takes approximately 12 to 16 hours of in-class time. Additional hours will be required outside of class for candidates to conduct research for their business plan and practice the skills they learn during the workshop. The workshop can be taught over several days or it can be compressed into two days. As a general rule, the entire workshop should not take longer than one month.
Employment resource centers outside of the United States and Canada are required to offer the Self-Employment Workshop at least once per month. Centers within the United States and Canada are not required to offer the workshop, but will offer it at the discretion of the professional center manager according to local needs and trends. If a workshop dedicated to self-employment is taught, it must be this workshop with the appropriate ERS course materials. To see models of recommended techniques for teaching ERS workshops, refer to Orientation Lesson 11, “Teaching Techniques.”
The Self-Employment Workshop is catered specifically to those who are looking to start or improve a business. This workshop should not necessarily serve as a replacement for the Career Workshop. Small business management candidates can benefit from the Career Workshop as well in order to begin cultivating and developing the skills they’ll learn more about during the Self-Employment Workshop.
Currently the Self-Employment Workshop Participant’s Handbook can be ordered through Distribution Services in English. The Self-Employment Workshop Participant’s Handbook, the Self-Employment Workshop Facilitator’s Guide, and correlating posters are available in multiple languages from your local professional center manager, who may access it through the staff section of the LDSJobs Help website.
2.9 The Professional Placement Program
The Professional Placement Program (PPP) includes participation in a Career Workshop adapted for professionals, followed by weekly attendance in a Networking Group for professionals. What makes this workshop different is the approach the instructor will take. There is more emphasis on professional-level working environments, and the discussions are geared toward the types of issues encountered in these fields. For example, an instructor could suggest a candidate look for ways to tie in a company’s founding principle in an interview. Other discussions could be the pros and cons of using a job recruiter. Visit LDSJobs.org for further ideas.
At a minimum, the workshop adapted for professionals should be offered once per month at a professional ERC or as directed by your agent stake. The Networking Group should be held biweekly to support the candidates’ progress through their job searches. Finally, a key component of a successful program is a database of proven resources that have good relationships with the center. These resources are developed specifically to meet the needs of the professional job seeker.
Candidates who participate in the PPP are self-declared professionals. The term “professional” often refers to those who have been managers or executives or those who aspire to those positions. These definitions could be based on several qualifications, including skills, education, or past experience.
Some candidates may have extensive education, while others may not. Some will be accustomed to an above-average salary, while others may not. Although candidates will often have worked within the professional levels of an organization, some may not. The common thread among these individuals is that they are career-focused.
The resource materials used in the Professional Placement Program include:
- The profile created on LDSJobs.org or, in an area where Internet access is unavailable, a CAP form. In creating a profile, the candidate creates a career plan and sets goals.
- The Career Workshop Participant’s Workbook and posters.
- The LDSJobs database of proven resources developed specifically to meet a professional’s needs. These resources may include employers, training programs, or self-employment organizations that have strong working relationships with the center.
2.10 Networking Groups
Because networking is such a fruitful source of information and leads, the Career Workshop helps participants identify and develop their network and improve their networking skills. In a networking group, participants also provide each other with hope and encouragement, additional skill development, leads, professional resources, and further networking opportunities. For the self-employed, a networking group assists individuals with similar goals in sharing resources, leads, and experiences.
A networking group meeting should follow this sample agenda:
- Opening prayer
- Spiritual thought*
- Introductions (“Me in 30 Seconds” statements)
- Return and report (contacts, interviews, homework assignments)
- Sharing leads
- Training tips (power statements, building a network, or other skills learned in the Career Workshop)
- Establishing individual and group goals for the coming week
- Question and answer
- Exchange of contact information among networking group members
- Closing prayer
- Dedicated networking time
*A spiritual thought is not an agenda requirement at networking group meetings, but it can be used as an opportunity to remind individuals of the Lord’s interest in their lives and their success.
These meetings are most productive when offered weekly (at the same time and location) and facilitated by ERC staff. The facilitator should verify that each participant is actively working with a coach. Most importantly, ERC staff should maintain weekly follow-up contact with each participant to listen, share information, and otherwise strengthen their efforts in becoming career self-reliant. This is done in the meeting or, if the candidate cannot come to the meeting, by phone or e-mail.
The difference between networking group meetings at the ERC and others that may be offered in your community is the primary purpose. The primary purpose of ERC-hosted networking groups is to incorporate the gospel in each participant’s job search and remind them that their Father in Heaven is aware of them; He has provided His children with priesthood direction and assistance for their spiritual and temporal support, which includes their career development needs. Other networking groups in the community, although beneficial in their own right, will not incorporate the spiritual aspect of a job search into their meeting agenda.
Speaking of Heavenly Father’s temporal interest in His children, Gordon B. Hinckley said: “The Lord would want you to be successful. He would. You are His sons and His daughters. He has the same kind of love and ambition for you that your earthly parents have. They want you to do well and you can do it” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 614). Use networking group meetings as an opportunity to remind candidates that Heavenly Father truly does desire the success of His children.
Networking group meetings should also include sufficient time for networking. Give candidates plenty of time to talk amongst themselves as a group and to discuss leads and other opportunities that could be beneficial to someone else. If the group gets off course with networking, make sure that, as the facilitator, you lead them back to the focus of the meeting. The networking group is about both quantity and quality; allow plenty of time for networking and encourage the most beneficial networking possible among the group.
In order to achieve the most productive networking possible, help participants realize that simply attending the networking group without taking real action during and after the meeting may not be productive. The networking group should not be used as a means of hiding from an active job search. On the contrary, there should be constructive, tangible outcomes from these meetings that help candidates get call-backs, interviews, job leads, and employment. This will require candidates to initiate their own networking to supplement the weekly meetings at the ERC.
Networking groups are beneficial and appropriate for all candidates who come to the ERC. Because of the variety of candidates that come into the ERC, however, there should also be a specific networking group reserved for professionals. The Networking Group for Professionals caters to those who work or have worked within the professional or management levels of an organization or those who aspire to work in that type of environment. Networking groups may also cater to self-employment candidates and career development candidates that are working toward becoming professionals.
There are times when it may be appropriate to invite a guest speaker to a networking group. These speakers should not, however, take the place of networking activities. Networking among the participants should still be the main focus of the event, but a guest speaker may be able to offer valuable insight into effective networking or become a valuable network for participants. Speakers are often chosen from resources that have an established relationship with ERS.
2.11 Humanitarian Aid Assignments
ERS works with the Church’s Humanitarian Services Division by training Church-service missionaries and volunteers working on humanitarian projects to teach ERS materials. These individuals are then equipped to teach ERS principles to people in areas without access to an ERC. In this way, people all over the world can learn career self-reliance while ERS gains feedback from humanitarian efforts on how to better help people across borders and cultures.
2.12 Career Outlook Information
ERC staff should be familiar with economic and career information that impacts employment in the local area, such as unemployment rates, industry strengths, and growing careers. This information should be used to help candidates make better career choices and help leaders understand the local economic impact on members. This information should include:
- Common careers
- Direction of growth for each career (growing, steady, or declining)
- Average starting salary or salary range
- Years of experience required
- Education or training required (certificates, diplomas, or degrees required and years of study necessary)
- Schools providing the education or training
- Resources available to students (such as scholarships or grants)
In many countries, the occupational outlook information described above is compiled online or in handbooks by governments or other third-party organizations (for example, the Occupational Outlook Handbook or the National Occupational Classification and Career Handbook). Consult with your MFO to determine whether the available government or third-party information is sufficient.
The ERC staff should review this information regularly and use it to coach candidates and to plan resource development efforts. This information should be listed in the community resource section of LDSJobs.org. Links to useful resources should also be listed on the center landing page. Leaders, PEF coordinators, and candidates can access this information on LDSJobs.org.
2.13 Perpetual Education Fund Support
Currently, the Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) is available only in countries outside of the United States and Canada. It is not operated by Employment Resource Services. You may visit the PEF website to learn more.
Although PEF is currently not part of the services offered by ERS, it may be beneficial to you to have a basic understanding of the program as you work with candidates and Church leaders in order to answer any questions about it that may arise.
PEF has been established to provide young adults of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the support and resources necessary to improve their lives through education and better employment to better serve their family, the Church, and their community.
In countries where PEF is authorized, paid staff will have the opportunity to help PEF applicants discover training and career opportunities.
For additional information on PEF, see the PEF website.