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Think Outside the Box to Find Job Seekers in a Virtual World

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our Recruitment Team had to find new ways to reach people in need of employment and build community partnerships.

So much of our Recruitment Team’s daily work is centered around building relationships with prospective participants and referral partners – churches, community centers, organizations, parole offices, shelters, and recovery homes. These relationships take time and trust to build in person, let alone over a phone call or computer screen.

But when the COVID pandemic hit, that was the challenge that this team faced as they had to find new ways to reach people in need of employment in such an uncertain economic time.

“One thing my team is most proud of is the way we conduct our recruitment interviews,” says Tekorah Martin, Manager of Recruitment & Admissions. “We’ve learned to read people over the phone, getting a sense of who they are to determine if our program is right for them.”

One of the biggest challenges has been describing Cara to job seekers without being able to invite them into our physical campuses. However, after explaining our new virtual programming to them, we realized the new format was a selling point for prospective participants; they could incorporate our trainings into their regular routine and responsibilities.

When we got a yes to joining our program, we found innovative ways to get them onboarded – which involved completing paperwork, sending bus cards, and arranging drug tests at medical facilities that are conveniently and safely located near participants’ homes.

Building relationships with new referral partners also took some creativity. Pre-COVID, we often turned to shelters, but during the Stay at Home Order, most shelters weren’t allowing guests on-site or residents leaving the premises to prevent the spread of the virus. Looking for alternative ways to find job seekers, we noticed a lot of community services switched over to food distribution. So the team safely set up at food pop-ups, putting flyers in the bags of food being distributed to the community.

Tekorah Martin and Intisar Omar reaching out to job seekers at a summer food pop-up

The biggest lesson we’ve learned is that we have to meet people where they are, be it virtually, or safely in person. We can’t wait for job seekers to find us during a time like this. Our Recruitment Team has engaged nearly 700 job seekers since March. Not only did our creative outreach methods prove to be an effective way to recruit job seekers, but it also strengthened our friendships with organizations like Austin Coming Together and Latinos Progresando. Together, we can lift up our communities and connect even more people to gainful employment.

Read more stories about how our participants and the Cara enterprise live out our Transformations every single day.