At a time when the Great Resignation and the steady retirement of Baby Boomers are creating a talent acquisition nightmare for HR professionals and their organizations, Randstad’s Hire Hope program is developing an overlooked pool of job candidates in the Atlanta area.
The 37-week curriculum-based program is for women who are survivors of homelessness, human trafficking, domestic abuse and exploitation.
Between 150 and 200 women have been employed by Randstad corporate partners through Hire Hope since Randstad launched the initiative in 2014. Most graduates work in HR-related functions such as benefits, payroll and recruiting, according to Crystal Crowley. She is senior diversity and inclusion and community impact manager for Randstad U.S. and responsible for developing career-readiness training for this program.
She also serves as Randstad’s representative on the Alliance for Freedom, Restoration and Justice Freedom Council and is a member of the American Staffing Association (ASA); she chaired ASA’s Social Responsibility Committee in 2021.
Hire Hope is Randstad’s response to the Alliance for Freedom, Restoration and Justice’s call to support women who were survivors of sex trafficking by providing them with workforce skills, training and employment opportunities, Crowley explained.
How the Program Works
“HR [at Randstad] is very instrumental within the program,” she said, “because we have to have the additional buy-in and support” such as looking over protocols and assuring that the program is able to support participants. Randstad employees, ranging from front-line workers to senior vice presidents and members of the C-suite, volunteer as classroom facilitators, mentors and job trainers.
The program participants they work with must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be legally able to work in the U.S.
- Have at least a high school diploma or educational equivalent, such as the GED/TASC. They may be rising college juniors or seniors or in higher education. Participants also may be individuals aging out of foster care, have other career-opportunity barriers or in need of second-chance opportunities.
Students find the program through referrals from past participants, through Randstad’s Alliance partners and word of mouth. Program graduates are required to return to the classroom and share their career journey, Crowley said.
Classes are made up of 12 to 14 participants. Hire Hope is based on eight learning modules, each with a set of lessons, objectives and assessments that participants must complete to move onto each of the three program phases.
Phase 1, Restore: This consists of 12 weeks of interactive career-readiness training led by Randstad employee volunteers. Teachers focus on topics such as resume and cover-letter writing, preparing for interviews, and professional demeanor, while Hire Hope graduates talk about their own work experiences and career growth.
Crowley likened the first phase to a “reboot.”
“We’re preparing the women for the next phase of the program” by helping them acquire business acumen and learn to create LinkedIn profiles and social media presence. “Things they might not otherwise have,” she explained.
Two weeks into the program, participants are paired with a mentor.
“[Mentoring] can last beyond Thrive,” Crowley said. “It depends on the relationship between the mentor and mentee, but they’re required to remain in contact throughout the entire [37 weeks] of the program.”
Participants also have access to the program’s Hire Hope Closet of interview and everyday work attire that Randstad employees and others donate.
“The women earn opportunities to shop in the closet throughout the program or if they experience a life-altering event,” Crowley explained. “The clothes are theirs to keep.”
About 80 percent of participants move into the second phase of the program.
Phase 2, Grow: This phase is 25 weeks and consists of strengths and career-interest assessments, job training, and paid apprenticeships with Randstad clients.
Hire Hope has discretionary funds to distribute to participants in this phase of the program that “allows us to assist the women should a need for child care or transportation arise,” Crowley said.
About 90 percent of participants move into the final phase of the program.
Phase 3, Thrive: Randstad holds a graduation ceremony for women who successfully complete the program, and employees are encouraged to attend to show support.
Graduates are placed in temporary or permanent positions at Randstad or with Randstad corporate partners and receive six months to one year of career-transition support after they finish the program.
“It’s a phenomenal program,” Crowley said of Hire Hope.
“It’s worth getting involved, it’s worth [putting in] the time and effort to build this within organizations to ensure we’re giving back to the communities we serve, to help impact the world we live in.”