The first level of placement is marketing graduates. Connecting graduates to employers is analogous to promoting the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program to new students during the recruitment phase.
The first step of marketing is a resume and cover letter, followed with progressively more detailed information as requested. Resumes are easy to handle and transmit in either printed or digital format. To be selected for an interview, job candidates must demonstrate that they have sufficient knowledge, skills, and experience required for successful performance. Getting an employer’s attention is much easier when the prospective employer is familiar with the EWDJT program or has previously employed a program participant. The process is even better when employers have an opportunity to interact with prospective candidates.
Resume writing should be incorporated as part of a larger, comprehensive life skills curriculum. While such curricula cannot be supported with EPA EWDJT funds, supplemental funding from state and local employment services (i.e. the Department of Labor CareerOneStop Centers), churches, or other community groups may be used.
There are many strategies to promote graduates to employers.
- EWDJT placement services—Placement efforts by EWDJT staff can be the most effective vehicle for several reasons. Staff members know the students and graduates of the program and can provide references for additional positions. Program staff know the subject matter and can answer questions first-hand regarding student abilities and credentials.
- CareerOneStop Centers—The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has an extensive network of job development and placement services in virtually every community across the United States. Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) exist in every state and can be located through the National Association of Workforce Investment Boards (NAWB). This website provides in detail the location and contact information for state and local programs. Partnering with WIBs provides access to CareerOneStop Centers, targeted employment programs, supplemental training services, and student support. As discussed in other chapters, the importance of partnering with WIBs cannot be overstated. In areas such as recruitment, supplemental job training services, and job placement, the WIB may be the single, most important and helpful resource in your community.
- Internships and company visitations—Often, job openings do not reach traditional marketing channels, but instead are filled internally or by recommendation or familiarization. In some cases, positions are created when employers discover candidates having potential value for the organization. Therefore, the more contact students have with employers, the higher the likelihood they will be offered a job. This approach works because employers have a chance to familiarize themselves with the candidate. Work-study programs, internships, part-time employment, and co-op education programs are excellent vehicles for placing students. When students work for prospective employers, mutual information exchange occurs regarding company culture, work environment, and expectations. Establishing work-study or co-op programs in an EWDJT program can be a very effective vehicle for placing graduates. The closer and more familiar the prospective employer is with the program, the more likely an interview will be granted. For this reason, it is important to invite prospective employers as guest speakers, instructors, advisory board members, and leveraged supporters.
- Internet job searches—In addition to providing local job development and placement services, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has made extensive use of the Internet. America’s Career Kit is a collection of Web-based resources provided by the DOL.
- Commercial job development and placement services are abundant on the Web. While the effectiveness of these sites varies widely, do not overlook them as excellent sources of job-marketing information. Some websites provide employer information by geographical area and industry. Others provide job search tips and resume development ideas. Below is a partial list of popular Web-based job marketing services.
- Newspaper classified ads—Newspaper ads rank with Internet job search services as a difficult way to secure a job. Openings that appear on the Web or in print will likely be viewed by many individuals interested in the same position. Newspaper ads, however, should not be ignored but included as yet another pathway for potential job placement. Human resources consultants suggest storing and tracking newspaper ads as a source for future job openings. Employers who advertise for positions obviously need environmental workers from time to time, and should become candidates for direct marketing efforts.
- Professional employment services—Professional employment services require a fee, which is usually paid by the employer for locating candidates with specialized high-demand skills. Instances could exist where firms must quickly ramp up environmental remediation capabilities in order to fulfill a contract. For that reason, EWDJT program staff should maintain contact with professional employment services that specialize in environmental workers. One such site is the Brownfield Renewal Job Board sponsored by the Brownfield Renewal Magazine.
- Temporary staffing and labor contract services—Temporary staffing services are often used by EWDJT programs as a pathway for job placement, both for temporary and full-time employment. Because of the nature of many environmental jobs, full-time positions may not be available when graduates are seeking employment. Labor contracts or temporary job services can sometimes turn into permanent employment, but primarily they act as a “peaking” service. When work demands additional staffing, but not necessarily full-time employment, employers rely on temporary staffing services to provide supplemental assistance. This is a common practice in the environmental remediation field. Construction sites can require workers with specialized skill sets and certifications for limited periods of time. Contract labor or temporary staffing firms smooth out employment peaks and valleys by furnishing employers with a pool of trained, certified workers. This benefits the workers by providing jobs from a variety of employers.
- By consolidating jobs, contract labor services can also serve as a centralized employer, affording benefits and support services to workers who might not qualify for those services based on short-term employment.
- A major advantage of temporary job services is that short-term placement allows employers and graduates the opportunity to become acquainted. If graduates and employers mesh, temporary workers may be offered full-time positions when they become available.
- Personal networking—Personal networking is a highly effective approach in securing a job interview. Often job seekers know recent graduates who can provide a recommendation. Friends or relatives working in large organizations can provide inside information regarding possible job openings and company culture even if they do not work in the environmental arena. Popular opportunities for networking include:
- Alumni reunions and mixers—Graduates can mix with former graduates to network and share experiences. As with prospective employers, engaging former graduates in the EWDJT program provides a networking opportunity for new graduates.
- Employer open houses—Invite prospective employers and graduates to tour facilities, exchange ideas, and discuss topics of mutual interest.
- Career events—Host events specifically oriented to job development, marketing, and placement.
- Job fairs—Many communities and employment services sponsor periodic job fairs. Job fairs address many organizations and occupations so they become excellent opportunities for personal networking and credential presentation.
- State and regional environmental conferences—Increasingly, states are forming Brownfields Associations that hold conferences attended by private sector stakeholders and governmental organizations. Environmental conferences provide an excellent venue for networking and providing an understanding to employers interested in EWDJT graduates.
- Cold calls—Cold calls can provide pleasant surprises when used by EWDJT staff as well as by job candidates. Pools of prospective employers may be uncovered by placing cold calls to human resources personnel who might fall through the cracks during the normal placement process.
Large organizations not normally involved in the environmental field may need individuals with knowledge of environmental and/or Brownfields issues. Insurance companies, banks, realtors, architects, shippers, landscaping, and governmental organizations are just a few examples of those who may have a limited demand for people with environmental knowledge.
Organizations like these would not necessarily be targeted by traditional placement activities of an EWDJT program. Placing cold calls to non-traditional employers can often be difficult and nonproductive, but can occasionally be worth the effort and may turn up excellent opportunities for graduates.