Setting out as an employment specialist – First encounters with employers
An IPS employment specialist uses a large part of their working time for collaboration with employers. The aim is both to find suitable jobs for the clients and to support employers who already have a client working for them.
According to the IPS quality criteria, each employment specialist should have six business meetings per week. International research results show that those employment specialists who spend about 60% of their working time working together with employers receive the best employment results. For new employment specialists, contacting companies is indeed an exciting and challenging part of the work.
Sini Karhinen has a Bachelor of Culture and Arts degree and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Services. She has started work in the IPS project after a long period as a work activity counsellor at Kellokoski Hospital. Sini describes her first experiences of employer cooperation by saying she has ‘made it through the first few fumbling attempts.’
Sini explains her first experiences of employer cooperation and describes how her first calls to small-scale entrepreneurs were a total shock for her:
‘I’ve made it through the first few fumbling attempts. I had spent many days crafting and honing the words I would use to introduce myself to employers on the phone. On the phone, I managed to get the words out by using a text I had written up, after which both my first contacts suspected me of being a telemarketing agent. They did not want to hear any more about the matter, and the conversation ended there. I just had to swallow that down until the next day, when I resolved that I have to get on with contacting the next company, no matter how anxious I was about it.’
Her contact with a 10-person company unexpectedly brought results, as Sini then recalls:
‘With my heart thumping, I explained to the employer why I was calling. I heard a deep sigh at the other end of the line. Then they said they had not understood anything I was trying to say. I explained the project again and asked if I could pay a visit and tell them more about IPS. The employer was strongly of the opinion that they do not have work to offer mental health clients. They wondered if it was really worth continuing the conversation. In the end, however, they agreed to have a short meeting with me. After the call, I felt like I had had a wrestling match and managed to floor my opponent.’
Sini then recalls how, at the agreed time, the employer met her and seemed to be positive and interested. In the coffee room, they talked about the company, its plans, its recruitment needs and how to find suitable employees. The employer was happy to share their thoughts, and the discussion went smoothly. At the end of the appointment, the employer asked if they could show Sini the factory area. ‘I was really interested in seeing the area and was amazed that they wanted to introduce their company to me,’ says Sini.
When presenting the company’s different work tasks and the factory area, the employer asked about recruitment subsidies. Sini replied that the objective of IPS is to find jobs that can offer normal pay. The aim is to find employers who have work to offer and to find work for the clients, which matches their educational background, work experience and interests. The employer said that this sounds very good. At the end of the meeting, they agreed to stay in contact. The employer concluded by saying that they should keep in touch, and that it was always worth calling, because you never know if there might be work on offer.
In the article series ‘Life as an employment specialist’, you can follow the experiences of our employment specialists in their everyday work.