Michael GoldbergThe following guest blog post was written by Michael Goldberg, Director of Talent Acquisition at the American Heart Association & American Stroke Association.

I was honored when DirectEmployers approached me about a guest blog post. For those who know me well, I always have an opinion and a lot to talk about. What a better way to open up a dialogue around how companies are faring with establishing the partnerships with the Section 503 and VEVRAA partners.

We have been through the presentations… all stellar presentations with my favorite overview with the wonderful Candee Chambers and John C. Fox. If you haven’t listened to it, click here. The questions I have are: How do I establish the relationship, where do I get started, how do I know if the vendor is one I want to partner with, and oh by the way, are the vendors ready for the onslaught of calls for thousands of companies wanting to be their new best friend?

Let’s address the second question first. Based upon my Google searching and speaking to some vendors, they are not. There is not enough time in the day to service all of the Federal Contractors. I have even had one vendor ask me, what Section 503 and VEVRAA are. Congratulations to NASWA for putting together a fairly solid presentation to train the State Workforce Agencies. It includes the webinars and related attachments. But what about the smaller agencies outside the State Agencies? What training have they received. I welcome any information that agencies can share with DirectEmployer Members as well as any members who have training information they can share.

On to the first question: How the heck do I prepare? There is no doubt that along with sourcing, screening, presenting candidates, we now are responsible for maintaining strong partnerships with these vendors. How many times do I have to call these vendors each month? What are some of the questions I can ask to know I have an agency who will be a true partner? One of the key issues for our organization is that we have locations in every state. Each of the regional offices known as Affiliate offices will need to reach out to every office in each state. That is a lot of work. One of the suggestions I have made if you are in a similar situation or just have satellite offices across the country is to work with agencies that have a national presence. You will also want to focus on National agencies that assist veterans and individuals with disabilities. This helps in the number of calls and/or visits you need to make.

Speaking of Engagement…how frequently do you need to keep in contact? You can never be faulted for calling or visiting the agencies too much. My recommended plan is to make some form of contact at least once a month with your agency partners. Want to be strategic about this? Whether you are on calendar or fiscal year, get the positions to the agencies ahead of time so they know when to expect spikes and can be more prepared to take on the opportunities.

You may also want to connect with them through your company’s career social media sites and most importantly, engage in conversation with the candidates whether you have opportunities now or coming down the requisition line. Either way, you win as you have pipelined candidates who may be a Veteran or an individual with a disability.

Share your success stories by highlighting those you have hired from either category on your careers site or in posts on social media. The more information shared, the more positive exposure you will receive and it is more likely that the hired candidate will share their story with related agencies. Nothing but great press as long as you engage and follow through!

My last nugget to share are the questions to ensure you have the right partner. Feel free to add to this list by replying to the blog post. I did not have this information and had to come up on it with my own. Here they are:

  1. Tell me about what your organization does to provide job hunting/finding assistance for the community located near employment sites. What types of resources do you have on-site for those who need to find a job?
  2. What types of events, if any, do you hold such as career fairs and job search training (resume assistance, cover letter, and interview training)?
  3. Describe the type of skills and backgrounds your candidates possess that may fit what AHA recruits for.
  4. How do you “get the word out” (job postings on their site, networking meetings, email blasts?) about job opportunities with your outreach partners? How do you partner with your local chamber of commerce to publicize job opportunities in the community?
  5. Does your facility have the ability to provide reasonable accommodation consultation and assistance to individuals with disabilities?
  6. How do you partner with companies to provide consistent applicant flow?
  7. What resources (people and materials) would you all have to potentially develop training around hiring Veterans (if working with a Veteran Outreach partner) and Individuals with Disabilities (if working with an IWD Outreach partner)?
  8. Does your organization have the ability to offer a central point of contact for referrals in multiple locations, as needed?
  9. How does your organization offer a diverse variety of job candidates with different skills and qualifications, open to people with various types of disabilities, and different racial and ethnic backgrounds?
  10. What are the next steps should we select your organization as an official outreach partner with (insert organization name here)?

While this may not be the “be all end all” of questions, it gives you a great start. Remember what Candee Chambers says is the key criteria:

  • Did the activity attract qualified applicants with disabilities and/or protected veterans?
  • Did the activity result in the hiring of qualified individuals with disabilities and/or protected veterans?
  • Did the activity expand Contractor’s outreach to individuals with disabilities and/or protected veterans?
  • Did the activity increase Contractor’s ability to include individuals with disabilities and/or protected veterans?

Being prepared is half the battle. In this case, it is knowing where to start and how much the agencies are prepared to take on the extra work. Know that this will not be built overnight. Do it right the first time and it will cause less headaches for you and your team in the future. Best of luck!

The recommendations and comments are those of Michael Goldberg only and not the American Heart Association or DirectEmployers. Follow Michael on Twitter. You can also follow the goings on at American Heart Association on Facebook or @TheAHALife.

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