By Beverly Cramp
As the Human Resources Manager of Det’on Cho Corporation, the economic arm of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), a big part of Lesley Ann Evans’ job is relationship-building. It’s her job to liaise with members looking for jobs and also to liaise with employers looking to hire band members. The two groups go hand-in-hand, each needing the other.
“I do a lot of ‘meet and greets’,” says Evans, herself a member of the YKDFN. “I frequently meet with employers, our membership, and also organizations that provide training. To get our members in good jobs, often they require more training and education.”
Evans’ day frequently begins with a phone call or visit from a YKDFN member looking for work or training opportunities. This often involves delving into the bigger picture. “A big part of what I do is career outreach,” says Evans. “There’s a lot of back and forth communication.”
To begin with, Evans determines what kind of work a member is looking for. Perhaps they don’t know themselves; they just know they need a job. To gently investigate, Evans has developed a list of 10 quick questions to ask.
“I often start with finding out what they like to do. Or, what kind of jobs that member usually does,” she says. A slight variation is, “what would you like to learn? Then we can begin looking for specific training for them. If I’m on the phone, I’ll eventually ask if they want to come in and see me in my office.”
Thus begins a longer-term process, of ongoing meetings and counselling over a period of weeks and months, even years. Watching her members develop full-fledged careers is what drives Evans. “I like working with the membership and helping them define their career goals and training aspirations,” she says. “When I see that someone is eager and willing to work hard, it makes me want to help them all the more.”