Although their numbers have declined significantly under the Trump administration, refugees bring strong skill sets to U.S. employers. Among those seeking work are former translators for the U.S. military in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, doctors and other professionals.
Why Hire Them
Refugees are legally eligible to work from the moment they set foot in the United States. "You have a population that has gone through hell and is eager to rebuild their lives," says Gideon Maltz, executive director of Tent Foundation, a non-profit founded by Chobani Yogurt CEO Hamdi Ulukaya to work with businesses hiring and supporting refugees. "That produces a set of employees who are highly resilient, highly motivated, and highly loyal."
Where to Find Them
The State Department contracts with nine agencies--including the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the International Rescue Committee, and World Relief--to resettle refugees. Contact a local office.
What Roles They Fill
Most government financial support runs out in 90 to 120 days, so the first goal of the resettlement program is self-sufficiency. Even people with advanced degrees typically work blue-collar or service jobs until they get the necessary certifications or training to resume their careers. "You have highly talented people, and once they develop fluency or gain more experience, they make great candidates for professional advancement," says Maltz.
Companies Doing It Right
In November, WeWork committed to hiring 1,500 refugees globally. Most have started out in entry-level maintenance and hospitality roles, but the company is actively recruiting for open positions in IT, finance, architecture, and marketing. Recently, it kicked off a pilot to train refugees in coding. Says WeWork's director of partnerships and special projects, Mo Al-Shawaf: "We are looking at empowering our 50,000 member companies [clients] around the world to be part of this with us."