Updated: Dec 1, 2022
About a year ago, I started The Employment Services Show Podcast. A show that breaks the stigma about unemployment, and which helps employment practitioners lift their game. During that time, I've had the privilege of speaking with some of Australia's top Employment Services experts. They are the people who make a difference in many people's lives and work on the frontline to the c-suite level. They have been kind enough to share their best practices and even secrets to help those who help others into employment. As well as spread the message to employers and hiring managers about the industry, their job seekers, and services.
Read about some of their top tips and best practices.
“Being a disability employment consultant is about serving someone with a disability and assisting them into employment. A lot of people in this industry seem to come in thinking that it's a case management aspect and that we just deal with people on a psychologist level. They are a bit shocked by the sales side of it. You are selling a client to an employer. You need to realise that. Some people find the distinction hard to get, and take it as more of a case management role. There is that side of it, don’t get me wrong, but at the end of the day, we're here to help people find work and 90% of our time should be dedicated to doing that.…. Because you are responsible for that client being in front of the employer. So you've got to get on the phone, you've got to be cold calling employers, you've got to be marketing the clients, you've got to be emailing, you've got to be jumping on seek. It's not just about sitting with a client and being a psychologist and going through their day and trying to help them in that regard. We're not trained for that.''
“I think, one of the biggest barriers I believe to employment is hope. You know when that hope goes, then the depression kicks in, the anxiety kicks in and all other barriers to work. It’s not just not having recent work history, but it's that confidence and hope in finding work. And when that's gone, that's when someone really needs that assistance. So in essence, that's what disability employment services is about. It's about assisting those clients that have a disability into work, and the providers out there have links to the community support, links to employers and hopefully, that makes it easier for the clients to find work....When you look at hiring someone with a disability, the advantages of that are huge. The diversity in your workforce can really attract new customers.”
Kylie Van Luyn
“Employers often think that because you're diverse, that you're naturally inclusive, and that's not the case. I think having any diverse workforce, but not being inclusive is really quite damaging. You'd rather not be either. Because having a diverse workforce, but not being inclusive causes all sorts of other problems. And inclusion doesn't come naturally, and I think that's important to call out as well. But certainly, when you can achieve it, there's a sense of belonging. Staff feel welcome, accepted and supported. I often think it would be amazing if we had a society that didn't just simply tolerate or accept diversity, but that inclusion just came a lot more naturally and we thought a lot more about it. It was a lot more considered than what it is at the moment."
“Know your participant, build a relationship with your participant, and that’s when you pick up the phone……….Once you are passionate about it, I think it becomes natural. To me, it doesn't matter what script you have and how many phone calls you make, I think it's quite obvious when you are speaking to employers either by the phone or face-to-face, it is your passion that will get you through. So, it's about having a buy-in, in what you're doing and not giving up. Because when we are accepting these roles and we are going to help people, we are becoming a voice for them and we are saying you know what I'm happy to advocate for you and advocating means, at least in disability Employment Services, helping them find a job, helping them feel included and supporting them stay in that employment.”
“Sometimes it's not appropriate to call the employer when it's convenient for ourselves or the consultant. It's most appropriate to call when the business has an opportunity to listen. I guess the second point that I would probably make will be to let your intention be known as early on as possible and what I mean with that is, it's not so much about the 'Hi, how are you?' and the small chat, because at the end of the day, time in business time is valuable and we appreciate the time. So, making sure that the conversation is quick, precise and to-the-point is very important. And then the third thing that I would say would be to try and warm up your lead as much as possible. We only know what we know. So that's why talking to people inside the industry, outside the industry when you're out talking to other businesses.” Listen to the full podcast episode
“First and foremost, you need to love the work that you do to have a long and successful career in employment services. I believe that your passion would determine if you spend 3 months or 3 years in our Industry. Quite often when you’re speaking to people that do work in employment services, they’re either one of the two. They’ve either had a go at it and it wasn't for them and that's fine. Or they’ve had a go at it and they’ve loved it and they are still doing it. So you know, when you think about some of our customers that come to our offices, quite often they present to us, when they are at their most vulnerable. It’s really important that if your heart's not in the work that you immerse yourself in, really you're doing your customers a disservice. So first and foremost passion is really important.”
“When people are mismanaged talent leaves. And a couple of stats to throw out there. The ASU conducted a survey in 2016 and it said that 70% of people were looking to leave the industry. 70%! Wild. And this is an extraordinary industry where people get up every morning with purpose, you know, and that's a really tough stat. And then it's not people looking to jump to another provider because they don't like their manager or anything silly like that, and it's actually looking to get out of what is I think is one of the best Industries to work in in the world. And what's actually happening and the NESA report showed and 40% are leaving. Actually leaving every year. Which is just extraordinary. So, we need good leaders out there to really genuinely help with the retention of talent in the industry. And one other quick side point to this. I do genuinely feel like we need to be trying to help people to build resilience at work and kind of cope with what is an extraordinary job, but also high pressure, you know, and you're dealing with people with incredibly complex barrier employee to employment.”
"I strongly believe that a resume doesn't sell our clients. A piece of paper doesn't sell our job seekers. I don't think it does them justice. So when I drive my team, I encourage them to get to know their job seekers and get to know them by listening, and over a period of time, build rapport with the job seeker. That they understand what their skill sets are, what there is their physicality? What are their emotions? What support do they need on the job? So when they go out to reverse market or to meet an employer, I encourage them that their minimum intention at the first meeting with the employer is to ask them for a meet and greet session to meet the job seeker. It's not to go out and to give the employer a piece of paper and say here you go here is a job seeker that I think is worthy of you interviewing. It's not an interview, I don't call it an interviewing. I encourage my team to personalise the session with the employer, and I highly encourage for the employer to have a meet and greet session. Because I strongly believe that the best marketing tool that the job seeker has is themselves. When you put a job seeker up in front of an employer, they can market themselves, their strengths, their abilities, their passion and why they really want a job, better than we ever can. And if my team knows the job seeker really well, then they should have the confidence to be able to encourage the employers for a meet and greet session. I encourage my staff to make sure that every decision they make is about having the job seeker and the employer at the forefront of every decision they make."
"Understanding each client's unique circumstances and why they are with Disability employment services in the first place. Having clear boundaries between empathy and sympathy. Because we don't always deal with people who trust easily. So I would say open communication and honesty. And one of our big mantras across the board, ''say what you're going to do, and follow through.'' I think that by doing that, you know, you're going to gain trust a lot quicker. Because you're dealing with people, you're not dealing with product, we'll go back to that. But if you don't have the trust of that client, then they're not going to put in any sort of effort. And we don't get to do the job that we're here to do it. You've got to be realistic too. There are some people that come to our services and have quite severe barriers and it takes us a little bit longer to build their work capacity, but then you have the people that are ready and willing to go. So it's about identifying that well and being able to read people. Sometimes they don't always tell you the truth, but they're more likely to tell truth and be real with you when you are with them. So, that's my top tips and that's how being as successful as I have this year is actually doing what I say I'm going to do."
When you’ve got to get up every morning and you’re unemployed, you think, I’ve got to get a job, I’ve got to get a job. It really gets you down. So what I do with job seekers, is I give them an envelope. On the outside of that envelope, I ask them to write what their goal is. Most of them will write to get a job. We then turn the envelope over and on the inside of the flap, I ask them to write why they want the job. A lot of people just say, get extra money, get Centrelink off my back. I've had that one a few times. And then I give them a card on the desk. I slide over a card. And I say to them, on the back of that card, I want you to write a heartfelt reason as to why you want to achieve that goal. How is it going to change your life? And if they go to start writing straight away, then I say, no have a really good think, because this is why we're doing this. And in saying that there were a couple of people that started crying, and felt bad about it. Anyway, they’d write it, and put it in the envelope and then close the envelope. And I'd say to them, put that next to your bed in the morning when you wake up. If you can't get out of bed because of what your goal is, turn it over, open the flap and have a look at the reason why is that your goal. If that doesn't get you out of bed, take the card out and read in your own words, your own writing as to how achieving that goal will change your life. And then I say to them, if that doesn't get you out of bed, turn that card over, because on the back of that card, is the name of at least one person in this world that believes you can achieve your goal and change your life. And at the back of that card, was my business card. And I'd say to them there's the name of one person that's not going to let you down, and you're not going to let him down, because we're here to change your life. We're not here to just get you a job. And it just changes them. You need a really good excuse for not wanting to change your life in a bad way.”
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