1. Use mini-groups. You often repeat things to different job seekers in your one-on-one meetings. Saying the same thing to different individuals is a waste of time. Time is also wasted waiting for no shows. Why not schedule two to four people at the same time when you are discussing the same topic? Just pull up a few more chairs around your desk and have a mini-group. You can explain to people when you first see them that this is the way you often work and that it will benefit them because they will get more ideas. If you send around an email when you have more space available for a mini-group topic, co-workers can send their job seekers to your group. When more staff are working with each other’s job seekers you will get important new perspectives about the people you are serving. Mini groups almost guarantee that you will have people to work with and will not waste time on no shows. Mini groups also generate the powerful force of peer cross training. Use one-on-one when a topic isn’t appropriate for a group, but do as much of your work as possible using mini-groups and you can serve more people in less time!

2. Use technology. You can go to www.freeconference.com and set up a conference call with a small group of your job seekers at no cost. Schedule regular conference calls on the same day and same time for the best results. People don’t have to travel to see you and you can work with more than one person at a time. This can save people money on childcare, gas and bus fares. People in very remote areas often do all of their counseling by phone either one-on-one or in conference calls and I have seen it produce excellent results. Telephone counseling is a skill to be learned and I offer consulting on how to do it so you get the most out of the session. Telephone group sessions are a great way to save time and reach more of your job seekers. Also consider setting up a Facebook page or LinkedIn group for the people you work with if your job seekers are computer savvy.

3. Ask job seekers to do more of the work. Did you ever finish a counseling session only to discover that your to do list is longer than the one of the person you were counseling? While this might be appropriate in some situations, too often it’s the result of us over doing and the job seeker under performing. Make sure you are not doing tasks the job seekers can do for themselves. We want them to be self-sufficient and not dependent on us for help. It is important they take as much ownership as possible for their progress. I have seen many job seekers rise to the occasion when staff did not rescue them from a task. Working with job seekers should be a team effort. Make sure they contribute to the team as much as possible for their situation.

Do you have a strategy for better ways to serve more job seekers? Please send it to me using the contact section of the website and I’ll share it with other folks in our next issue.