Working with Stake and Ward Leaders
Employment Resource Services is successful insofar as it supports Church leaders. Remember, the ERC is in place to assist leaders in helping their members. You will be more successful in providing this assistance if you understand their needs.
To better understand leaders’ concerns relating to the needs of their members, ask questions that will allow you to offer help through ERS tools and services. Try not to ask questions like “How many unemployed members do you have in your stake?” or “Are you aware of anyone who is underemployed in your ward?” Instead, ask questions that give you the opportunity to suggest ways ERS can help. For example:
- “What is your perception of the Church Employment Program?”
- “Are your employment specialists receiving the support and training needed to realize your perception?”
- “What is your perception of Employment Resource Services?”
- “What are your greatest employment challenges and how can I help?”
The more you understand the leaders’ and specialists’ concerns about the needs of members, the better you can apply ERS resources to help.
Before approaching Church leaders to discuss member needs, do some research on the help the ERC has offered in the area. Many of the leaders you talk to may have members the center has already helped. For example, if the ERC placed 10 people last month from a specific stake in the area, use that information to help leaders recognize that the ERC wants to help and is able to help.
For examples of how to work effectively with local Church leaders, refer to Orientation Lesson 2, “The Role of Priesthood and Relief Society Leaders.”
6.2 Communication with Local Church Leaders
Regular communication with bishops, as well as other Priesthood and Relief Society leaders, is essential to helping candidates find gainful employment. Communication relating to specific candidates should be documented on LDSJobs.org in the candidate’s notes section.
6.3 Bishop's Authorization for Services (BAS)
Although a bishop’s authorization for services is not required to assist most candidates, it is required for those who are enrolled in the Priesthood Directed Extensive Career Coaching (PDECC) program or the Accelerated Job Search (AJS) program. For these circumstances, authorization must come from the bishop. It can be written or verbal, but it must be documented in LDSJobs by clicking the “Update Authorization” button on the candidate’s profile.
6.4 Orientations for New Leaders
The ERC introduces local Church leaders and employment specialists to the ways ERS can be used as a resource in their callings. A great way for these leaders and specialists to understand how the ERC operates is to participate in an ERS orientation.
Orientation Meeting Strategy
The ASOC may choose to organize orientation sessions. Those attending Leader Orientation could be newly called bishops, quorum and Relief Society leaders, and ward and stake employment specialists.
There is no standardized agenda for what should be included in an orientation session. On the contrary, orientation meetings may differ significantly from one service area to another. Orientation needs are typically assessed by the ASOC and will depend upon the local employment needs. However, suggestions for ways you can supplement orientation meetings are as follows:
- Ask members of the ASOC (before orientation) what their biggest concerns are regarding employment in the local wards and stakes. You can then address these concerns during the orientation with information about resources available through ERS.
- Share the center’s estimate of local members with employment needs with the ASOC. The ERC estimate is a nonscientific best judgment of local employment conditions. It helps Church leaders and the ERC determine where employment problems may arise and impact the members locally. With input from the ERC estimate, the ASOC can better determine what should be addressed in leader orientation at the ERC.
New leader orientation will not necessarily be held at the ERC. In fact, new leader orientation will not always be offered exclusively for ERS purposes. Oftentimes orientation will include training for other welfare operations, including Deseret Industries, bishops’ storehouses, and LDS Family Services. Most new leader orientations are held in stake buildings.
6.5 Open Houses
Consider an open house as part of launching a new ERC. It is an excellent means of introducing the way ERS serves candidates of all skill levels and career interests. Open houses can also be useful when there is new information available at the ERC or when local businesses are not aware of what the ERC has to offer.
Although an open house is standard for the opening or relocation of an ERC, there may also be other occasions to hold one. You might hold an open house to introduce the ERC to new Church leaders as they are called to serve. You might also hold an occasional open house for community resources you have or for those you would like to develop a relationship with. Open houses should be held at the discretion and under the direction of the agent stake president. The ERC may hold an open house as part of orientation for new Church leaders.
The agent stake president will discuss the need for an open house with the ASOC. During the discussion, the ASOC approves what could or should be presented during the open house. Since the professional center manager is a member of the ASOC, he or she will then provide guidance and instruction to the missionaries and volunteers at the center in coordinating open house activities and details.
Who could be invited to an open house?
- Local priesthood leaders
- Relief Society presidencies
- Ward and stake employment specialists
- Local members and friends of the Church
- Employers and community resources
- Civic leaders
What types of items could be covered at an open house?
Depending on the types of activities planned, you might want to host a variety of open house events based on local needs. You could include the following:
- Tour of the center and its services
- Help guests visualize what happens at the ERC. You might show them a portion of a live workshop or networking group. Help those in attendance understand that ERS provides more than just job leads; ERS offers a variety of services that help a variety of candidates prepare for careers and self-employment.
- Allow time for visitors to become acquainted with staff, missionaries, and volunteers. This would also be a good time to make contacts for your resource database. You can make networking more inviting by providing light snacks.
What else should you consider?
- Speak with local Church leaders: Ask for suggestions on how to bring members to the center. You could ask them to mention the center in Church meetings or emphasize spreading the word through quorums and Relief Societies.
- Give a great first impression: If you want people to come back, they have to be impressed. Be sure to have job openings, job search tips, and listings of schools and self-employment resources available.
- Have missionaries and volunteers there to answer questions.
- Provide a list of standard services offered on your center’s landing page on LDSJobs.org.
- If possible, invite resources to conduct interviews with candidates at the center during the open house.
6.6 Tips and Tools on LDSJobs.org
There are a variety of training articles and videos available on LDSJobs.org that Church leaders can reference while helping members with employment needs. The online Article Index provides a list of links to all the articles and videos, and Church leaders can also find these tools on the “Stakes &Wards” tab of the website.
6.7 Explaining ERS Services
One of the best ways to explain ERS services to leaders is to invite them to attend services.
The “Me in 30 Seconds” portion of the Career Workshop is a particularly beneficial section to show leaders and specialists because it demonstrates how the ERC helps candidates identify their strengths. This section can also help leaders recognize how to help their members identify the talents Heavenly Father has given them. Offer copies of the Career Workshop Participant’s Workbook for attendees to read and review.
Once you have presented and discussed ERS resources with attendees, mention how you showed them the information instead of just telling them about it. Emphasize to leaders that demonstrating and marketing the benefits of ERS to those who are unemployed or underemployed, rather than simply telling them about the ERC, will increase the likelihood of their members coming in for help.
Clarify the Role of ERS
Sometimes the role and services of the local ERCs have been misunderstood. Some leaders have even expressed dissatisfaction with their perception of ERS services. If you encounter leaders with concerns, address ways to regain their confidence. Ideas for how you can accomplish this are as follows:
- Discuss the leaders’ and specialists’ needs and expectations, clarifying that ERS acts as a resource for candidates by helping them prepare and search for employment. Illustrate the follow-up and coaching practices available at the ERC to show leaders how the center can help candidates become more prepared for call-backs, interviews, and employment opportunities.
- Describe the realities of a job search. Several components affect the time it takes candidates to acquire employment, including their career goals, skill level, resources, education, and past work experience.
- Provide tangible, real-life examples of ERC services put to use. Share success stories from your center or the LDSJobs website. These success stories should emphasize that although ERS was involved, the successful candidates acquired their own employment.
Candidates are ultimately responsible for their own job searches, but this needs to be explained carefully. Help leaders understand that the ERC will do everything in its power to help candidates find employment, start or improve self-employment, and develop career plans.