JVS Careers Reinvented: Career agency grows and changes to meet the needs of a blossoming Jewish Cincinnati

Date: 10-29-2015 | Category: For Job Seekers,News | Reading Time: 6 Minutes

September 2015 was a record month, with 27 clients beginning new chapters in their career journeys. That’s more job starts in one month than the agency has ever seen, and the future only looks brighter.

By Barbara Miller, Director of Community Building, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati

Some things never change. Throughout history, the Jewish community has continuously prioritized helping people get to work.

Jewish Vocational Service was founded 75 years ago to do just that; only back then, the Jewish community was largely made up of immigrants looking to make new lives for themselves in a new country. Now, we are college students, looking to jumpstart our careers. We are business executives, climbing to the top of our industries. And we are everyone in between. Just as the career needs of our people have evolved, the agency with a mission to meet those needs has, too.

Over the past few months, this agency has transformed to embody the qualities of its new name: Jobs Vision Success Careers (JVS Careers). Guided by the beacon of Cincinnati 2020, Jewish Cincinnati’s collaboration to build an engaged and empowered Jewish community, JVS Careers has expanded its services to support jobseekers throughout their careers; from intern to senior-level executive. The agency has also changed to meet demand from the employer side of the job market, launching a whole host of recruiting and staffing services for Cincinnati businesses.

“When Jewish community leaders thought about the kind of Jewish community we want to be in the year 2020, everyone agreed that it made sense to grow JVS Careers,” said Kim Slaton, JVS Careers Managing Director. “They realized they were going to have to invest very heavily in the jobs piece if they wanted Cincinnati to become a city that’s going to lead America in attracting and retaining people.”

A grant from The Jewish Foundation provided the capacity to double the agency’s size. With extensive experience in recruiting, Joni Burton came on board in February as the new CEO. She oversees a staff of a managing director, three career consultants, a business development manager, and an office administrator. Together, the team’s approach to serving jobseekers has gone from reactive to proactive.

“In the past, people have thought of us as resume writers. People to run to when they’re desperate for a job. We’re still here for those folks. But now, we’re more equipped than ever to come up with a proactive career plan for a client. That’s not just finding a job. That’s helping people reach heights they may never have thought possible. That’s changing lives,” said Burton.

Services for the applicant

From helping their clients navigate social media career sites like LinkedIn, to providing them a place to interview via webcam, JVS Careers has updated its menu for jobseekers. They offer free workshops on resume and cover letter writing, networking, and interviewing. For those ready to take the next step, there’s a package that includes three customized one-on-one sessions with a career consultant, unlimited email and phone follow-up support, and even help negotiating offers.

“People are paying big dollars for this elsewhere,” said Slaton. “When clients realize the deal they’re getting here, they can’t believe it. They see that we’re experts in this. We’re not just shooting from the hip here. We know what we’re doing. And we do everything that an expensive career consulting company does, except we’re not charging those fees.”

Services for the employer

In addition to broadening services for people looking for work, JVS Careers is now helping employers in their search for qualified applicants. With her years of expertise in recruiting, Burton has started a business within JVS Careers, where employers pay the agency to fill positions.

“We will do everything from documenting the job requirements, to understanding the culture of the business, to sourcing the candidates, to conducting the interviews, to negotiating and even writing offer letters on behalf of the companies that hire us,” Burton said.

The JVS Careers team is also debuting a cutting-edge online searchable jobs database. In a matter of months, they’ve already developed relationships with more than 50 employers, and that number is growing daily. Those relationships only enhance the agency’s ability to help people looking for work.

“Where are these companies going to look first to fill those positions? From our candidate pool!” Burton said. “We’re spending a lot of time with the relationships on the business side so we can develop their trust to pick our job seekers’ resumes out of the pack.”

Because of this new investment in employer services, JVS Careers is seeing more demand from senior-level executives who are looking to take the next step in their careers.

“We’re working with lawyers. Insurance agents. Engineers. Physicians,” Burton said. “We’ve negotiated offers for some of the executives here in the Jewish community who are changing jobs. We get them better benefits and salaries so they can walk in and feel really good about their offer.”

A whole new level of collaboration

Inspired by Cincinnati 2020’s objective to more efficiently and effectively collaborate across Jewish communal agencies, JVS Careers is working with Miami University and University of Cincinnati Hillels to connect college students with Cincinnati’s top employers through the Careers Cincinnati internship program. The agency is also helping Workum and Onward Israel interns fine-tune their professional portfolios. This past summer, with JVS Careers’ help, 46 college students were employed in Cincinnati internships.

“It’s part of our process now when we’re talking to these employers. We’re documenting what internships are out there and we’re working with the Hillels to advertise them,” Burton said. “These college students that do engage us, they soar when it comes time to graduate.”

The agency has also developed a partnership with the Esther and Maurice Becker Networking and Mentoring Center, the young adult engagement arm of the Federation focused on creating a connected young Jewish community. The two organizations host joint programs and networking events for young professionals.

“When young adults are thinking about where they want to settle, the Becker Center helps them integrate into and network within Jewish Cincinnati’s social scene. We are focused on the jobs piece,” Burton said. “We work together as a team because you need both pieces to attract and retain young people.”

Ringing in the future

The frequent ringing of a small brass bell inside the JVS Careers offices is a constant reminder for staff that the agency’s reinvention is already a success.

“Whenever someone starts a new job, we ring the bell,” explained Burton. “And it’s been ringing off the hook!”

From January through September of 2015, 156 JVS Careers clients started new jobs, a 38 percent increase over last year. The economic impact of those 156 jobs, based on the total reported annualized salaries, is more than $8 million. On its own, September 2015 was a record month, with 27 clients beginning new chapters in their career journeys. That’s more job starts in one month than the agency has ever seen, and the future only looks brighter.

“I think we’re going to be known as the career center for the Cincinnati community,” said Slaton. “At 75 years young, we have a strong board and wonderful support from the Jewish Federation, The Jewish Foundation, and the community as a whole. We will continue to set the standard.”