Is the NYS Labor Department’s OJT Program SMART Enough to Find Applicants for Businesses?

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Yesterday’s post gave an overview of the New York State Department of Labor’s On-the-Job-Training program. In brief, the OJT program offers businesses up to $50,000 in grants to offset the cost of training new employees for newly created positions, with a maximum of $5,000 per trainee. A request for information from the department revealed some interesting details.

To participate in the program, employers submit a description of the job they are looking to fill. The Labor Department then uses that description to suggest candidates from their talent pool, which is compiled on their database of unemployed workers called Skills Matching And Referral Technology, or SMART 2010. Once the OJT participants have conducted their interviews and made their hiring selections, the Labor Department will assist them in developing a training plan and filling out all the necessary forms.

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Launched in October 2009, SMART 2010 supposedly reads entire resumes – not just keywords – and matches workers to available jobs according to their strengths, skills and talents. Both the employer and the applicant receive e-mail updates when they’ve found a match.

Applicants usually enter this system when they visit a One-Stop Career Center and fill out an ES-100 form. A labor department job counselor enters the data into the system on behalf of the applicant, who may also provide a separate resume for more detail.

Whether this system could work for media industry startups remains to be seen. As with any analytical software, if the right employees want to be found, they will have to be smarter than SMART.

The ES-100 form only allows the applicant to list one desired job title and although there are plenty of blank lines to elaborate on a job function or set of skills, the SMART tool only allows applicants to receive leads from one area. The way to get around this, according to the SMART FAQ page, is to apply with a separate e-mail address for each job title. The system will count the other e-mail address as a different person with a unique set of skills.

Applicants are also unable to include samples of their work along with their resumes, which is something that employers in the media industry often need. If the employer wishes to see samples and other personal touches like a cover letter, the employer must provide information for the applicant to contact them directly. If they suppress the job order and make it a “blind” listing, the applicant will have to go to the One-Stop Center to apply, which might also give them a chance to bring in their portfolio and speak to a counselor in person for further screening.

Obviously the State’s job board is not as tailored for media job seekers as, say, Mediabistro. But if a startup company wanted to get the grant money they could find their candidates in advance and have them edit their SMART profiles to match the company’s job description or else advertise their participation in OJT on their other job boards so that qualified applicants (New Yorkers who are currently receiving unemployment benefits) can do it themselves.

For more information on creating an effective online job profile check out the Mediabistro Career Circus coming up on August 4th.