WRD partners with other resettlement agencies
for refugee employment services:
Refugees are legal immigrants with the right to work. They begin looking for a job very soon after they arrive in the U.S. Refugees work in a wide variety of places, ranging from restaurants, hotels, janitorial companies, landscaping companies, etc.
When refugees arrive, they have between three and six months to get a job. WRD is not funded to provide employment services, and therefore refers out this service to other agencies, such as Church World Service RDU (in Durham) and USCRI North Carolina (in Raleigh).
Volunteers working with WRD refugees are encouraged to assist in the job search process utilizing the strategies and activities listed above. However, volunteers should not communicate to other agencies directly -- they should encourage the refugees with whom they're working to do so.
Volunteers should encourage refugees to be in consistent communication with their employment case worker, informing him/her about any leads on jobs or job search progress. This includes any job searching or employment training done with volunteers.
Refugees need to get a job as quickly as possible before their Refugee Cash Assistance and Welcome Money run out .Because of this, many refugees typically acquire entry-level jobs that some of our volunteers would not want to necessarily do. Refugees are encouraged to have a job to get them started and then work their way up. Resettlement agencies encourage refugees to keep their jobs (even if they do not necessarily like their jobs) for at least six months, to start building a good reputation for themselves and not burn bridges for other incoming refugees. This also helps them get a good financial foothold here in the U.S. Oftentimes, when working with refugees in the area of employment, volunteers may want to communicate something to the resettlement agency that is in charge of the refugee's employment process.
Refugees Must Seek Employment:
The employment program at World Relief helps to connect refugees to their new communities. Finding a job meets several needs in the lives of the families we serve. The most obvious need is that refugees can become self-sufficient and independent. This is truly a desire of those resettling in the United States and is a primary goal for World Relief. Our clients often express their aspirations of wanting to add to their new communities and be engaged in their new culture. Many of these men and women, who have been contributing members of society in their home countries, do not want to have to rely on other people or on government systems in order to survive in their new homes.
Finding a job also provides refugees with a sense of worth and accomplishment. Their children and families can be proud of them. They take incredible pride in what they do and do not take their responsibilities lightly. Of course, it is also extremely important that refugees stop being dependent on government assistance as quickly as they can. People often focus on barriers to hiring refugees. They think about the fact that English is not the first language of our clients. Employers know that there are customs, procedures, and practices in United States employment that may need to be taught and may not come naturally to foreign born employees. The employment program at World Relief seeks to teach such concepts as interview skills, appropriate hygiene, and common employment practices through Job Readiness classes and continued job coaching. Our clients are also very motivated and hard working. Because they take pride in having a job in America and understand the repercussions that not having a job would have on them and their families, they tend to keep their jobs for a significant amount of time and maintain strong work ethics.
Volunteers can emphasize to refugees the importance of getting off government assistance as quickly as possible. Volunteers can also assist refugee clients with their job search in the following ways:
- Filling out mock job applications: Gather various job applications from employer websites or places of business. Then, practice filling out an application with refugees and decide whether or not they are actually interested in applying to the particular business/organization or if the business/organization is hiring. Focus on English words that may be confusing or new to the refugee.
- Conducting mock interviews: Participate in mock interviews with the refugee. We have compiled a list of Mock Job Interview Documents and Handouts for you to use.
- Job skills training: Reiterate what refugee clients are learning in WRD jobs class using the class lesson presentations. See the ‘resources’ page on WRD’s website for class lesson presentations.
- Recruit Potential Employers: Tap into your networks – work, church, sports teams, family, etc. – to see if anyone you know is interested in hiring refugees. If you know of anyone, please contact WRD’s employment specialist.
- Research available jobs: Take the refugees to the public library nearest them, and with them by your side, research employers on the bus line, within walking distance or easily accessible by bicycle (if your refugee client has one) who are hiring. Use online employment websites such as ncworks.org or indeed.com
- Be a refugee’s advocate: Assist the refugee in filling out an application. Then, go with the refugee to the employer to turn in the application. When visiting the employer, act as an advocate for the refugee.
- Maintaining a job: Once a refugee is employed, sit down with him/her and explain the importance of timeliness, not missing work, appropriate dress and proper work behavior typical of American businesses/organizations.
- Assist with transportation: Drive and accompany a refugee when searching for jobs nearby or attending a job interview. Once a refugee accepts a position, assist with learning routes to and from a job and with arranging transportation if the job requires work shifts at times when public transportation may be inconsistent (i.e. Sundays or night shifts).
Volunteers can access documents relating to the above opportunities here.
Understanding refugees' employment situations:
- It is very common for refugees to ride the bus for one or two hours to their first job. This is okay. The bus system is their primary form of transportation, and volunteers are to avoid driving refugees to work, which can discourage them from riding the bus. Volunteers driving refugees to and from work is not sustainable.