Economic Development, Human Resources, and Nonprofits

Employers develop common job app

Effort in partnership with The SOURCE aims to eliminate one barrier job seekers face.

April 26, 2019
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JobAPP
Wolverine Coil Spring, 818 Front Ave. NW, is one of the companies using the common job application for prospective employees. Courtesy Wolverine Coil Spring

A local employee support organization and four employers have teamed to help job seekers save one of their most precious commodities: time.

Four West Michigan employers — Butterball Farms and Wolverine Coil Spring in Grand Rapids, Cascade Engineering in Cascade Township and Zeeland Lumber & Supply based in Zeeland — have created a common employment application by which job seekers can apply for open positions at any of the four employers.

All four companies are members of The SOURCE, a not-for-profit employee support organization designed to help employees keep their jobs, receive training to enhance their employment and help employees move into better positions within or across companies.

The four employers also are members of the Healthy Business, Healthy Planet working group set up to support the community and recruit talent in a holistic way in the 49507 ZIP code.

This common job application is their first initiative to be deployed. They also are in talks about a school partnership initiative and a partnership that would build talent pathways from one employer to another to give employees more advancement opportunities.

As of April 16, job seekers now are able to apply for a variety of jobs at the four companies by filling out a single application at bit.ly/commonjobapp or in person at The SOURCE, at 1409 Buchanan Ave. SW in Grand Rapids.

The applications also are available at The Literacy Center of West Michigan, 1120 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 240; and at any of the 10 West Michigan Works! Service Centers listed at bit.ly/wmiworks10centers.

Milinda Ysasi, executive director of The SOURCE, said the nine-page application is built on a Google form that is easy to use.

“It’s a very basic application, and then once that is submitted, their information gets directly emailed to all of the HR representatives from all of the member companies. So, then it’s up to each individual company to follow up with that job seeker about opportunities that would exist inside their organization,” she said.

“They’re still going to have their individual job descriptions and work requirements. But what it’s really trying to do is save the job seeker some time and energy by applying via one application versus four applications.”

Mark Peters, CEO, Butterball Farms, said the 49507 ZIP code in which Butterball is located has among the highest levels of unemployment, which means it is potentially a great place to find talent for companies like his.

“The common application is the result of an ‘aha’ that the people living in our neighborhood are unfamiliar (with) how to get a job with us, and temp services are not recruiting here. So, why not provide one access point to job seekers for multiple like-minded employers?” he said.

While the common application in its current form is geared toward entry-level workers, he said as part of the pathways and progression initiative under discussion, he hopes the partners will eventually expand it.

Kenyatta Brame, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Cascade Engineering, said applying to jobs takes about 45-60 minutes per application, time that job seekers can better spend elsewhere.

“The goal of the common application is to break down barriers to employment by exposing applicants to more employment opportunities and hopefully helping them to find jobs faster,” he said.

Being part of the pool of four participating employers is about collaboration over competition, he said.

“Although we compete with other businesses for talent, we recognize that it is best for our overall community if our residents can find jobs that allow them to build careers in West Michigan. We can be more successful as a community if businesses work together in our talent searches and job placements. This is a win for the candidate, business and the community,” Brame said.

Jay Dunwell, president of Wolverine Coil Spring, added, “The challenge to find employees in today’s tight labor market requires nontraditional, innovative efforts. A common application, and the underlying collaborative approach to employee development, will hopefully reap rewards for both job seekers and the employers.”

Ysasi noted this common application is somewhat of a “soft launch,” with the eventual goal of refining the process and getting more employers on board.

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