Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Refugees offer employers opportunities amid hiring drought

If you work in HR or are a hiring manager, you've probably been affected by the hiring drought. Where there was once several candidates to fill each opening, there are now numerous positions that are forced to go unfilled due to a lack of candidates. However, employers have another often untapped resource for new employees: refugees.

What many people may not be aware of is how many refugees are in Utah. The Utah Refugee Service Office estimates that there are some 25,000 refugees that have resettled in Utah, with most of them settling in the great Salt Lake City area. So what exactly is a refugee? According to The UN Refugee Agency, a refugee is someone that was forced to leave their country due to a "well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion." Refugees often live in camps before coming to the United States, and the process generally takes years. Many refugees are bringing children with them, or have been forced to leave their families behind.

So why should employers hire refugees? Refugees have come to the United States to build a new life for themselves, and to live the American dream. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants states it perfectly: "Refugees who come to the United States want to regain self-sufficiency and economic stability for their families. Strengthened by their experiences, they make capable, resilient, and loyal employees." Refugees are also masters at networking. If you hire one, there’s a good chance that they’ll tell friends and family about you, and provide a fairly consistent source of new applicants to your business.

Most importantly, refugees bring diversity. They bring new ideas and new perspectives. Many refugees were educated in their country, and bring that knowledge with them. Many have faced hardships in their lives that the average American can’t even fathom. Through these challenges, refugees have learned the value of hard work, patience, and perseverance. These are qualities any employer would be excited to have in their employees.

So where can employers find refugees? There are three organizations in Utah that work with incoming refugees:

Asian Association of Utah:

Catholic Community Services of Utah:

International Rescue Committee:

You can also learn more about refugees by visiting
The UN Refugee Agency:
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants:

Utah Refugee Services Office: