sarah-and-jessica-crossmark-1Crossmark – Concord NH

Good employees are the backbone of any business. Employees are the heart and soul of a company; they’re essential for success. For employers, finding and recruiting top talent can be difficult. It often requires a little creativity and an ability to think outside the box. Enter Work Opportunities Unlimited and Sarah Heffner.

Sarah Heffner is a Career Resource Specialist for Work Opportunities Unlimited; creativity is her middle name. Each day she rolls up her sleeves to find successful job matches for people looking for work and employers looking to maximize their talent pool.

“I work with clients that have been referred to Work Opportunities from the New Hampshire Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. I also work directly with employers that have hiring needs, so my day is all about building reciprocal relationships within the community.”

The people that Heffner works with have different challenges. They may have been out of the workforce for a period of time, they may (be learning disabled or) have a learning or physical disabilities, perhaps they’re shy or on the autism spectrum, but the common thread that they all share is ability; they all have important skills to share.

“What I love about my job is I get to dig a little deeper, to find out exactly what an individual has to offer, what’s important to them, what they like to do… and then I turn around and make the connection with an employer who’s looking for good employees.”

“I’ve been working, or partnering with Work Opportunities Unlimited for over three years now,” says Ken Chaput, Club Supervisor at Crossmark, a sales and marketing services company that specializes in product demonstrations at local Sam’s Clubs. “This job isn’t for everybody so I really value that Sarah does her due diligence. She takes the time to learn about the position I have available, and all that it entails, and then thoughtfully and methodically picks the best candidates to interview for the job.  She’s fully committed to the hiring process; she wants us all to succeed.”

“It’s all about the right fit,” says Heffner. “We pride ourselves in making the right connection and if not, what can we do to make it happen? Work Opportunities is all about finding another way. We work to help employers meet their goals and we give people an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do, if given a chance. It’s creative problem solving at its best.”

At twenty-five years of age, Jessica Burnham never held a job in her life. She suffers from anxiety and is painfully shy. “As we got to know one another, I learned that despite her shyness, Jessica was willing to try new things and that she also interacts well with people,” says Heffner. “When we talked about the employment possibilities that might work for her, Jessica said she’d be interested in working food demonstrations. I thought it could be a good match, so I contacted Ken. The interview was really difficult for her but Ken saw something in Jessica and he hired her. What’s amazing, is the moment she put on the Crossmark uniform – pow! – she was transformed.”

“After the first week, I knew we had someone special in Jessica,” says Chaput. “She was making sales on the very first day and even though she didn’t have a full understanding of the job at that time, she took the initiative to help out. She demonstrated natural leadership skills and her co-workers responded.”

“Seventy-five percent of the time, it’s the connection to the person demonstrating the product that drives the sales at Sam’s Club,” explains Chaput. “Educating the consumer with product tips and ideas, engaging with them, being friendly and providing strong customer service, impacts the bottom line. So Jessica’s work is really important; she’s working hard and influencing sales in significant ways.”

Within a few months of her hire, Jessica was promoted to a Lead Event Specialist at Crossmark. “I’m pleased to say that Jessica is the second placement from Work Opportunities that I’ve promoted, and both of them were Sarah’s candidates,” says Chaput. “My turn-over rate is much less working with Sarah; it’s her approach to the process that makes the difference.  I know when she contacts me she has viable candidates and she’s going to make sure that it works for all. I like to give people a chance, regardless of their background or personal challenges, because I believe that everyone has something to contribute. As an employer, you’ve got to be open to the possibilities because that’s when you’ll find your best employees.”