The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that one of the keys to a person’s self-respect is having meaningful employment, receiving fair compensation for hours worked, having insurance to protect against the unexpected and receiving time for vacation and sick leave to rejuvenate and to heal.
Recognizing the value of meaningful employment, Church leaders established LDS Employment Resource Services — to provide opportunities to those who are unemployed or who desire to learn job skills. The centers are available to those of all faiths, not just members of the Church.
Currently there over 100 LDS employment resource centers in the United States and more than 150 located throughout Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Europe and Latin America. The centers offer free services, including job postings, job search instruction, resume classes, one-on-one assistance and career services for professionals such as practice video interviews.
The success of the program is easy to measure. In 2006, the Church placed over 88,000 people in jobs in the United States and Canada and over 137,000 people internationally.
One of those was René, a Church member in Chile. He had been out of work for more than a year when he learned about the LDS Employment Resource Center in Santiago. “I felt skeptical,” René said. “I felt so ashamed that when I finally made the call to the employment resource center, I disguised my name and my voice.”
René knew he needed help, but even after making the decision to go to the resource center he found himself circling the building over and over again before finally getting up enough courage to go in and attend classes. “Everyone there treated me with such love and such warmth,” René said.
At a Monday meeting in a Salt Lake City employment resource center recently, job seekers networked with each other, listened to a motivational speaker, received Internet training and met with potential employers.
Ballard Veater, manager of the Salt Lake City LDS Employment Resource Services office, said the average length of time it takes for professionals to get a job in Utah is eight to ten months. For those who take the Career Workshop and actively participate in the weekly networking meetings, it usually takes two to three months to find a job. Veater said, “If they do all the components of the program and if they are actually able to apply what we’re talking about, they will be able to reduce their job search time.”
Key to the success of the employment centers is the trained volunteers who are supervised by full-time staff. In 2007 alone these volunteers provided 140,000 days of labor.
Jackie, a single mother from Orlando, Florida, learned firsthand how valuable the volunteers are at LDS Employment Resource Services. She recalls how she went to an employment center but put her job search on hold after breaking her leg. Sister Nye, a Church missionary working at the center, called Jackie at home, and when she learned what had happened, offered to take her to a doctor’s appointment.
While waiting for the doctor to see Jackie, Sister Nye noticed an announcement that the doctor’s office needed an office assistant. “What can I lose?” exclaimed Jackie. The following Monday, cast and all, she began her new job.