While working in higher education, Kathleen Houlihan recognized a major problem. One student after another graduated with a mountain of debt and no true pathway to a career. “There’s a disconnect between the workforce and education.”
Houlihan sought to change that. In 2017, she launched Dream2Career, a staffing and recruiting organization out of Wilkes Barre that aims to attract, retain and inspire talent.
The key word is inspire.
“Staffing is what we do. A lot of businesses are struggling to fill site-based, entry-level positions,” she said. “You fill out an app, you’re hired, you work on a contract position. The business tests them out. But these people are not motivated.”
That’s where Houlihan’s services are different. When employers work with Dream2Career for their staffing solutions, they benefit from Operation Dream Landing. This program provides on-site, entry-level employees with quality-of-life benefits that help them feel valued and motivated. Bottom line—these are employees who want to stay and grow with the company.
Dream Landing is an onramp, but it’s not the end of the road, Houlihan said. “The idea is that they can evolve. We can help them with that… They can get the education they need to reach their aspirational goals.”
Post-pandemic, many employers continue to struggle filling on-site jobs. According to recent data from FMI—The Food Association, 46% of supermarket executives believe the pandemic made recruiting and retaining talent more difficult. Nearly 90 percent of the workforce now favors work-from-home jobs, and 40 percent of workers want “meaningful” careers, according to the Dream2Career website. Houlihan said it’s all about building a better community, providing networks, finding resources and uncovering opportunities.
“They need the opportunity to live, to learn, to grow and to become the best versions of themselves. They need to see what the job is about, learn about the industry and decide if they love or dislike it,” she said.
Operation Dream Landing provides a holistic approach to workforce development by onboarding new employees, creating pathways to fuller careers and providing support that helps employers and employees succeed.
The program uses the 10-point Horizontal Industry Framework (HIF) to help match someone’s personality with an appropriate job. This is a strategic advantage for Dream2Career. HIF connects Department of Education standards with those of the Department of Labor. An employer completes one version of HIF to describe the characteristics they prefer for a particular job; the potential employee’s version of HIF helps them to define their personality traits to connect with the right positions.
“It’s a temperature check to match personality and career signals,” Houlihan said.
The HIF might tell an employee they are a “protector,” meaning they will succeed in government, law and public safety roles. Or, for example, a “maven” excels in arts, media, communications and hospitality (see below).
This strategy places employees in positions where they are more likely to succeed. The business, in turn, gets motivated talent to fill their openings. Employees are contracted through Dream2Career for a certain amount of time, where both the employee and business can determine if it’s a good match.
“Contract-to-hire is the easiest way,” she said. “It’s like ‘try before you buy.’ And the business can grow the employee into what they need. You can see a culture change. People are more motivated.”
Through this program, the minimum contract is six weeks. Most range from six to nine months. If the employee or employer determines it is not a good match, Dream2Career will provide the next person in the pipeline. If the employee stays, they shift into pathways.
Dream2Career also provides benefits packages with these contract-to-hire positions. These benefits help employees to feel valued, which in turn, motivates them to continue with the company.
“We really make a difference, it’s not just another warm body,” Houlihan said. “People just need a chance. We’re going to help them be successful.” What’s your personality career match?
The Horizontal Industry Framework (HIF) works to match a person’s values and interests with the requirements of available jobs. A match will lead to a happier and more positive work experience.
Operation Dream Landing’s mission is to work with local businesses and vetted learning providers to offer high-quality personal and professional experiences that positively impact businesses, employees and the world around them. Dream2Career finds success when:
Businesses have a talent pool made up of educated, innovative and diverse employees that exceed expectations and excel at all KPIs.
Students and displaced workers have easy access to on-ramps and experiences that lead to dream careers.
Communities work effectively, share resources and have a common purpose.
Operation Dream Landing aims to onramp employees, enter a pathway and find a career. Providing quality-of-life benefits and education helps to retain and inspire new talent. Visit dream2career.org to learn more.