Originally given the challenge of looking at some kind of “signaling”
mechanism that people use in a survey, we settled upon the concept of how people
without traditional secondary or post-secondary education can signal employers
that they are worth hiring. We then built a survey to test “employers” (survey
respondents’) preferences for different types of resume items (certifications,
online education, projects, temp work, volunteer work, etc.).
Ultimately, we found that people didn’t care about the “type”
of work, but only about the apparent or presumed relevancy to the job at hand.
This pointed to a few potential solutions to the problems people without
traditional resumes face when job hunting: we could focus on improving the
wording on their resumes, we could focus on helping them find actual jobs, or we
could focus on helping them find ways to demonstrate their skills.
We settled on the third way, because the first felt like its
impact might be limited (or that it was simple enough to fold into our ultimate
solution) and the second felt like it would be competing in a market that is
already heavily saturated with job websites.
What it is:
“Get Set” is a carefully planned day-long “competition”
(think NFL combine meets hackathon) for people to show off their relevant job
skills. It provides a series of activities that can be quantifiably measured
and ranked, leaving participants with recommendations and improved job
Where it takes place:
A Get Set day can
be held at any large venue (hotel conference center, part of a convention
center, university, etc). They are held in cities (where you have enough
population density to have a high demand) and never more than once every six
months in the same city.
Refer to the eventrunner’s schedule below for tasks and how people
are evaluated on each specific task, but in general, the day is a series of
mini-competitions testing things like math, communication, teamwork ability,
and flexibility of thinking (or thinking on one’s feet).
In addition to these evaluative tasks, there are also other
helpful sessions during meals, such as networking, opportunity presentations,
and resume workshops, to ensure everyone gets value out of the day.
Since we serve primarily lower-income people, it wouldn’t
make sense to charge them for the event. Rather, we charge large national
companies that are interested in streamlining their recruitment process for the
lower-formal-education jobs in their corporation. We also then sell participant’s
scores/contact info to employers (of course, we tell participants we’ll give
their info to potential employers, as that’s the point of the event). Since the
event is only 1 day, the venue and food costs are not extreme, and much/some
may be donated for the good of the community.
We market Get Set as just that – the last step right before “GO!”
It has a fun vibe, and the emphasis is on taking advantage of opportunity
rather than patronizing attendees. The competition remains friendly due to the
fun nature of many of the tasks – like assembling lego structures or an escape
the room – so participants, at the least, will have a good time.
Though detailed in the schedule, participants are assessed
on timeliness (via their nametag badges being “logged” at each event), basic
accounting/math, teamwork ability, ability to think on their feet,
communication skills, and career-specific tasks like phone sales or lifting
heavy items to re-shelve/transport.
Although there are a lot of resume-help/advice resources,
job listing websites, job boards, and online education courses, no one seems to
have applied the idea of a college-tech-style “hackathon” to helping those
without technical skills also showcase their abilities. Therefore, not only is
this a special opportunity for participants, it’s also a fun one, similar to
any hackathon or day long friendly competition.
Employers would also be interested in getting involved with
Get Set, because there are not many ways to quickly evaluate a large number of
job applicant’s “soft skills,” especially if they lack the “stamp of approval” of
a college diploma. Holding large (hundreds of participants) single-day events
both quantifies and centralizes a source of reliable potential employees for
interviews or hiring.
Finally, Get Set itself is modeled off of other successful
brands to establish day-long or weekend-long events in multiple cities, like
Tedx talks or Tough Mudder races.