Quaeris to add jobs portal Resume bank welcoming events

March 15, 2011
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A consortium of West Michigan companies is aiming to add new features in 2011 to a website that supports their efforts to recruit talent to the area.

Quaeris, which developed the website www.hellowestmichigan.com to introduce the area to prospective new employees, plans to add a jobs portal, a section for college students and meet-ups for newcomers, Director Kevin Stotts said.

"The proof is in the first stages for the initiative," said Stotts, who reported on Quaeris' first year and new plans at a community meeting last week.

"We did a member survey. It came back saying there is quite a bit of satisfaction of the resources and utility of the website, and anecdotal feedback of talent using that resource."

The website offers basic information about the communities of Battle Creek, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Holland, Kalamazoo and Muskegon, and also parses it by topic, such as arts, culture and entertainment, multicultural resources and K-12 education.

There's also a section for member companies to share best recruiting practices as well as to review résumés of trailing spouses who are looking for local jobs after moving here for a spouse's job. Stotts said he knows of one hire that has resulted from the trailing spouses résumé bank so far.

Members of Quaeris include: Amway, Austin Relocation, Bissell, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Davenport University, Grand Valley State University, Haworth, Herman Miller, Kellogg, Meijer, Michigan State University, Perrigo, Priority Health, Powell Relocation Group, Progressive AE, Rehmann, Spectrum Health, Spectrum Health Medical Group, Steelcase, Trinity Health West Michigan, Van Andel Institute, Varnum, Warner Norcross & Judd, West Michigan Relocation Specialists and Wolverine World Wide.

They have partnered on the site with an array of regional chambers of commerce, economic development and professional organizations.

"We are a global company, but we are a company that is in the heart of West Michigan," said Marc Branca, manager for global executive search and talent acquisition.

"We hire about 400, 500 people a year. Of those, about one-third come from outside the state. When candidates are relocating, we send them the link to hellowestmichigan. It helps them become more educated about the area, the schools, what's possible for trailing spouses. We've posted résumés to the résumé board. We've interviewed candidates from other hiring entities that have provided trailing spouses, and actually hired one."

In December, Quaeris began sponsoring quarterly discussions for member human resources specialists to focus on recruiting, retention and cultural competency issues.

"We continue to do education and training for our members," Stolls added — for example, orientation for new members, recruiting and retention best practices and the key message Quaeris uses in promoting West Michigan.

Quaeris plans to update its home page to reach out to college students, working in partnership with www.interninmichigan.com, Stotts said. Plus, members will get a new section for best practices for internships.

Stotts said a welcoming event for professionals new to West Michigan was recently conducted in Holland and one is being planned for Grand Rapids.

"Once we have those as sort of models or templates, we'll be able to replicate those around the region," he said. "We've had terrific feedback so far in talking about those with our member employers."

The jobs portal and résumé bank are expected to be ready in the second quarter of 2011, Stotts said. It may be a way to encourage additional companies to become Quaeris members, he added.

"We envision it becoming a hub for conversation and sort of promoting all that's great about West Michigan," Stotts said. "We need to be more boastful of the things that West Michigan offers. We've got great companies here and great things going on."

In the meantime, Quaeris member companies are using the site regularly.

"We were looking for an effective way to get out information about trailing spouses that were looking for work," said Jim D'Amico, strategic staffing manager for Bissell Inc., who relocated to Grand Rapids from Cleveland last spring.

He said outside job candidates tend to assume Grand Rapids is either like Detroit or is a sleepy, conservative town, and the breadth of information at hellowestmichigan dispels those notions.

"They love having that one-stop shop," D'Amico said.

"It gives them an opportunity to see what we have to offer, from sports to arts to community festivals," added Cassandra Volkers, supervisor of staffing and diversity at Haworth. "They get a snapshot of what living in West Michigan is like. It's a wonderful resource."

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