By Michael Bradley
Special to Delaware Business Times
It can be the ultimate roadblock in any employment negotiation. No matter how close two sides may be on compensation, benefits and job responsibilities, one thing can stop the entire deal — and stop it fast. The Other Person.
As one member of a couple works to find a new position, the other wonders what will happen to him or her if a move to another city occurs. Will he or she find work? Will it be a position of similar status/salary/fulfillment to a current spot? For single people, a dramatic switch isn’t a problem. Sign the papers. Call the movers.
For those with spouses or partners, things don’t move in such straight lines. That’s when Kevin Cameron and his team get involved. The staffing vet specializes in helping new hires — and their families — make soft landings in Delaware, offering a service that helps with things like finding homes in the right school districts and assuring that a new employee’s spouse or partner will secure fulfilling work in the new environment.
He launched Wilmington-based Connect Delaware last year and has begun to develop a list of clients looking for assistance in the hiring process. Cameron, who also runs Exclusive Search Connections, a headhunting firm, doesn’t provide candidates through Connect Delaware. Instead, he waits until a company has narrowed the crop of applicants to a few finalists for a job. Then, he and his people get involved.
“We’ll get a call from a company that will tell us, ‘We have identified three people for the role, and all of them are from out of the area. We would like to introduce them to Connect Delaware,’” Cameron said.
“We support the applicants to make them feel comfortable, so that the things they worry about are limited, and the things affecting the family are mitigated.”
Cameron began providing this service “informally” in early 2016 to the University of Delaware. The school found that it faced “dual career” challenges when trying to hire new people. One of two things might happen.
Either a qualified candidate would turn down an offer because his or her spouse couldn’t work to provide necessary financial support, or he or she would take the job, but the spouse or partner would find unsatisfying work — if he or she found it at all — and eventually, the new hire would leave. UD asked Cameron for help.
Cameron grew up in Chicago, graduated with a degree in business administration from St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York and has spent the past 15 years in Delaware. He has worked for more than 20 years helping people locate jobs and has learned during that time that finding employment is the centerpiece of a search but that there are many other variables.
“When people get hired, they enter a community,” he said. “They’re not just doing a job.”
A lot of the conversations Cameron and his staff of two counselors — he expects that number to grow quickly in the coming months — have with potential new employees surround topics that prospects don’t want companies to know right away. For instance, there could be some HIPAA considerations or special needs for children or other family members.
In other cases, potential new hires might just want to know how to find someone trustworthy from whom they can buy a new car. Cameron said Connect Delaware deals with everything “but boxes and trucks” when it comes to helping people decide whether to accept an offer.
Once they commit to a company, Connect Delaware makes the adjustment to a new community smoother. It has relationships with realtors, mortgage bankers, financial planners, car dealers, independent school representatives, and other professionals on whom it can call to facilitate the move and subsequent acclimation process. It even offers quarterly networking sessions for new employees to meet other transplants. Those who have been around for a while become “ambassadors” who can help others who are new to the area become comfortable.
“The concierge level of support that we provide really has no competition in the area,” Cameron said. “Our growth potential involves every organization in Delaware.”
Cameron has built a relationship with the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, a public-private partnership charged with bringing new employers to the state.
One of the companies that has signed up to work with Cameron’s firm is CSC, which provides business, legal and financial services worldwide. Laura Gleason, CSC’s manager, Gglobal talent acquisition, anticipates a productive relationship with the company because of her long-term work with Cameron and their shared values of hiring people who add value and making sure they have what is needed to be successful.
“CSC attracts expert talent from all over the country, and we pride ourselves on being a company that cares for its employees; it’s what differentiates us from the competition,” Gleason said. “Connect Delaware will serve as a touch point in our on-boarding process, reflecting our values as we introduce CSC and Delaware to our new hires.”
Though Connect Delaware is just a few months old, Cameron expects quick growth and reports response to his concept has been quite favorable.
“When I get to somebody I can tell what Connect Delaware does, they ask how fast they can get on board,” he said. “I’ve had meetings that last 10 minutes, and someone asks for a contract.”