“I’m a connector,” says Charlotte Works volunteer Miranda Hairston. “Making a connection is a high point – once I connect, something great has started.”
She not only connects with clients during her near-15 hours of weekly volunteering in the Employer Engagement Center, but also with employers and other job-seekers as she moves around the community, spreading the word about Charlotte Works.
“Miranda uses her professional human resource acumen and natural talent as a relationship-builder and connector to inform diverse individuals, groups, organizations and business about Charlotte Works’ programs, trainings and services,” says Julie Paul, volunteer manager. “She’s a big cheerleader for Charlotte Works and helps job-seekers connect back to us for services.”
Hairston has been unemployed for approximately two years after being laid off from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and came to Charlotte Works when the organization was still known as ProNet.
“My profession is human resources [HR] and my specialty is not only helping organizations find employees that fit the culture, but also recognizing that a position description and advertisement are outlines of organizational wants and needs. In my professional experience, candidates have strengths and talents that extend beyond that outline. I use my skills as an ‘HR connectionist’ to identify those additional talents and identify ways organizations can use them. This creates an opportunity that keeps employees engaged and invested in the business,” she says. “I was looking for a way to make connections in Charlotte and found ProNet.”
As a client, Hairston has taken numerous workshops, including resume building, LinkedIn 101, “Finding the Right Fit” and “Being in the Dumb Air.” She attended both the resume and interview boot camps taught by Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in the spring. She’s one of Charlotte Works’ Toastmasters club’s most active members, serving as secretary.
Hairston used Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding to complete CPCC’s human resources certificate program and is currently participating in Charlotte Works’ On-the-Job Training (OJT) program.
She also quickly became a valuable member of Charlotte Works’ volunteer corps. She has served as both an orientation leader and resource assistant and provided support to the organization’s financial and program staff. Currently, she’s working closely with Paul to screen, interview and onboard new volunteers.
“It’s a positive environment,” says Hairston. “I’ve built great relationships and developed partnerships with the individuals I’ve worked with. Charlotte Works gave me a place to go to recharge. So it’s a win-win for me and the organization.”
She also takes advantage of networking opportunities outside the walls of the Employer Engagement Center to be what Paul calls “a strategic marketing ambassador” for Charlotte Works. Recently, she’s shared details about our services with a diverse group including the local chapter of National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR), the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, the Queen Bees of Charlotte and mayoral candidate Patrick Cannon.
I’ve always thought it takes the entire community to help people in transition. I like to think in 3-D, and it’s going to take a lot of out-of-the-box thinking to solve this particular challenge. Everyone needs another view, innovative ideas, another piece of guidance. Miranda Hairston
She’s even discussed Charlotte Works’ resources in job interviews with GM Financial and the Carolina Panthers. “I use any venue, any opportunity to share the word with people who may not know what we have to offer,” Hairston says.
Hairston is working to spotlight her talents in an entrepreneurial way, planning to become an HR consultant for small- and medium-sized business that may not be able to afford having a full-time HR partner. Her company’s name: The HR Connectionist.
“If you’d asked me two years ago if I thought I’d be my own boss, I’d have said you were talking about someone else,” she says. “Consulting will allow me to connect with more organizations and expand my knowledge and community base. It will also allow me to help companies be proactive about using best practices in HR.”
Volunteer Fast Facts
For Program Year 2013 (July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013) (Employer Engagement Center only)
- 187 volunteers
- 4,934 hours volunteered
- $296,040 value of volunteer hours (savings to Charlotte Works)
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