The economy is improving and so is the job market. Fed Chair Janet Yellen thinks so, setting the stage for an interest rate hike sometime soon.
In the meantime, criminal justice reform has gained momentum. If desire meets action, the result could be a substantial increase in the number of ex-offenders hitting the job market over the next couple years.
Combine an improving economy with this type of reform and one of John F. Kennedy’s favorite expressions jumps right into your lap, “a rising tide raises all boats.”
If the goal is racking up placement numbers, well game on. But if truly successful workforce re-entry is the objective, consider the rising tide scenario in terms of “more options” for the job seeker.
Silly me. Why should it be any different this time around, especially given our all-consuming, everything digital culture. Fact is, front end placement numbers are way easier to accumulate and measure than all that messy longitudinal study data.
But enough preaching to the choir. Think of things from the perspective of challenged seekers hitting an improved job market. Those that know what they want will incorporate available options in stride. Those significantly compromised will flounder, as they always do, unless they get the right assistance.
That leaves the many in the middle. Here’s where a rising tide and truly successful re-entry, may not mix.
Lots of folks in this group will have no plan and no Job Search Objective. They will grab. And heaven forbid they should receive “encouragement” from a re-entry worker lured by an easy placement. The job won’t last, won’t be liked, and won’t be leveraged into something better. Always? Every single time? Of course not, but the choir knows exactly the song I’m singing.
If you indeed want to help, then dig in. Triage your population and get real about who needs what. Get out of the way of those that can help themselves and appropriately refer those that can’t. And see yourself as a shepherd (really) to the majority in the middle. They will need help planning and targeting their efforts. They will require WORK.
Keep in mind though, assisting this middle group is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where stuff can really happen. So be strong and avoid the temptation to become not the shepherd but the wolf, picking off the low hanging fruit of an easy placement created by a rising tide.