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Working on it: Helping Refugees Navigate Employment

Displaced Ukranian workers are having a hard time finding jobs. Employers must revisit their hiring process to account for this overlooked group of talent.  

By Zee Johnson 

One year after Russia invaded Ukraine, refugees are left putting the pieces of their lives back together in foreign lands. And for them, one of the most difficult aspects of this transition has been securing employment.  

Many companies have outdated and non-inclusive processes that do not consider displaced workers, though research shows that 73% of U.S. employers report higher retention rates for refugee employees than other workers, regardless of industry. So, how can all employers make the job search process more accessible?   

Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, senior director of social impact programs at Indeed, says migrants are facing extensive barriers in their employment search and the obstacles seem incessant. “For the nearly 8 million Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their homes and rebuild their lives, finding employment is one of the toughest hurdles. Many refugee job seekers may not be native speakers of their new country’s language, creating barriers in communication,” she says. “Others may face difficulties because their license or certification may not be valid in another country – or they may be seen as overqualified if they were more formally educated or experienced in Ukraine.”  

While employers face their own set of frustrations too, Fatehi-Weeks says that hiring refugee candidates is very beneficial. “While many want to hire refugees, it can be difficult to understand and navigate the legal requirements around immigration, visas and permissions to work,” she says. “What we’ve learned from the organizations and employers Indeed has partnered with is that refugee talent pools are highly resilient and adaptable workers who learn quickly.” She adds that these workers have also proven to be loyal when employers invest in their growth and skill development.  

Fatehi-Weeks says that companies can take these steps to overhaul their processes and ensure they are approachable by all, including emigrants.  

  1. Make job descriptions accessible, inclusive, and relevant. Don’t over stack requirements and criteria that may screen out high quality workers. Also, include helpful information about immigration, visas, and legal status. 
  1. Be clear and intentional about local language needs. Fatehi-Weeks says there are more than 70,000 jobs on Indeed that don’t require applicants to speak the local language and over 50,000 that offer language training to those hired. Employers should state this in their job descriptions.  
  1. Don’t reject “overqualified” candidates. For refugees with extensive education, finding a job can be much harder. While applicants may have held higher-level positions in their home country, it does not mean they will not be a good fit for an open role elsewhere.  
  1. Increase your talent pipeline by partnering with organizations that serve refugees. By partnering with organizations that work closely with refugees, employers can learn more about how to adapt to each candidate’s needs and increase their pipeline performance. 

Fatehi-Weeks says her company’s mission is to help people find work and has set a goal to help 30 million people, including those affected by conflict and war, find jobs by 2030.  

For Ukrainian refugees looking for work, they can view Indeed’s Ukrainian Language Career Guide. For employers in the United States that are working to navigate the legal barriers to hiring refugees, they can check out Indeed’s specifically developed employer FAQs for the U.S.  

Tags: Recruitment, Talent Acquisition

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