Firstly, it’s important to become familiar with the 4Ps model discussed in the “Work-Based Learning Models” section of this site. This offers a unique way to pitch your work-based learning program to employers, and also gives you solid responses for employer push back and resistance.
The biggest immediate hurdle in speaking with employers is convincing them that you’re not a recruiter. This is easier said than done, and may take multiple contact attempts to achieve. Companies have gotten so used to ignoring calls from recruiters that they might hang up on you before they realize what you’re offering. In explaining what you offer, it might be a good idea to avoid the word “free”. “Free” often has a negative connotation attached to it that makes companies think you’re offering something cheap, or that there are hidden fees. Non-profit entities often get around this by mentioning their non-profit nature. For-profit entities can get around this stigma by mentioning that the company’s taxes have already paid for the service, since the JD NEG grant is government funded. Be sure to mention that there’s no obligated donations or fees that they’ll need to pay you.
One of the easiest ways to get an employer involved in work based learning initiatives is to remember not to sell to the employer. Instead, show them what the benefit is in taking on a work-based learning participant not only for them, but for their local community as well. A lot of companies really like the idea of being seen as a benefit to their local community, and this is a great way for them to do that. A discussion like that is much more likely to yield results than trying to sell work based learning to them with a typical sales pitch.
Once the hard part of the conversation is over, it can easily transition into a discussion about what type of employee the company is looking for. Do they need someone who’s proficient in Mac OSX, for example? A lot of failed internships happen because there’s a bad match between the employer and the candidate, so having this simple discussion with the employer is integral. Use a method of qualification to screen the candidates prior to introduction to the employer to make sure their soft skills are as well developed as their tech skills and they are a good fit for the position and company. This helps eliminate some of the bad experiences many employers have faced when recruiters place an unqualified candidate. Once you feel you have a good match, make sure your candidate is ready for the interview. Click here for more information on IT interview preparation. For information on basic interviewing skills, please visit the Illinois workNet Employment and Hiring page.