Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WOTC Status Update

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on (and pass) HR 5771– the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014. This will be Congress’ first solid step in some time toward passage of tax extenders. HOWEVER, in its current form the bill’s provisions fall short of expectations.

HR 5771 provides for a ONE-YEAR retroactive extension. That means that if the bill were also passed by the Senate without amendment, WOTC and other tax extenders would expire again on December 31, 2014 – just 28 days from now.

Fortunately, the Senate already has shown broad bipartisan support for the EXPIRE Act, which provides a 2-year retroactive extension. The EXPIRE Act additionally would expand WOTC eligibility to include workers who have been unemployed long-term.

The WOTC Coalition, is urging coalition members and other interested parties to lobby their Senators. Ask them to amend HR 5771 with the language of the EXPIRE Act when the bill arrives from the House.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Renewing WOTC Is Our Priority

As Congress reconvenes tomorrow they walk in the door to over 50 expired tax provisions that could postpone the start of the tax season. The business community remains unsettled not knowing how to prepare for the end of the financial year. We were advised to wait until the election was complete to bring such issues to our Congresspeople and we have done just that. But, it's time to tell Congress what we need and what we expect.

"Our goal is to get WOTC enacted in the EXPIRE bill early-on in the lame duck session so as not to be drawn into talks on the budget and the rest. We have grounds to press this because a delay to December will undoubtedly impact and delay the IRS tax filing season.

We have the White House supporting WOTC and other extenders in the EXPIRE bill. We have Senate Majority Leader Reid and Republican Leader McConnell as long-time supporters of the extenders who voted for the EXPIRE bill."

-Paul Suplizio, WOTC Coalition

WOTC Solutions, along with the WOTC Coalition is pressing upon members of Congress the urgency of passing the tax extenders. We continue to represent our peers and clients in order to be heard. If you would like to speak to your representative directly on this issue, please get in touch and we can point you in the right direction. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Employer Development

The Next Step and WOTC Solutions representatives recently attended a Job Fair at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City to speak directly with recruiters that have open positions. This is a great time of year to re-enter the workforce! There are literally thousands of open positions in the warehouse, manufacturing, staffing, clerical, light industrial and customer service industries. One message was repeatedly offered to us," we're hiring, so get in touch"! Many companies have switched over to an online application process, but they repeated that it is always okay to give them a call to inquire about how to apply. If it is better for you to apply in person, most staffing companies will be happy to make an appointment over the phone. When looking for work, it is important to consider there are many different ways to find open positions and not all of them are on the internet. Ask friends, ask family, get the word out there and you'll have better luck!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Where do I start?

Knowing that you need or want a job is the easy part. The hard part is where to begin. Read these tips on how to make finding the right job your full time job from

Job Search Plan:
Decide what type of job you want (industry, career field, full-time, part-time).
Decide what type of job you want (industry, career field, full-time, part-time).
Decide where you want to work (geographic area).
Write a resume or be prepared to complete job applications.
Find job listings.
Write cover letters.
Apply online.
Use your contacts.

There are also some basic tools you will need to conduct a job search. Access to a computer and an email account you can use for job searching are a must. It helps to have a dedicated email you can use so your job search correspondence doesn’t get jumbled with your personal correspondence.

Email Accounts
Free web-based email services are available (Gmail, Yahoo) and if you use one, you will be able to check your email from wherever you are. You will also be able to set up folders where you can keep copies of the resumes you have sent and the correspondence that needs follow-up.

Store Your Documents
Set up a job search folder on your computer (click on Start, My Computer, Your Computer, Make New Folder). Keep copies of the resumes and letters you have sent, so the information will be readily available when you start receiving calls to schedule interviews. Also keep a copy of the emails you send.

You can also store your job search documents online. Upload your resume and cover letters to Google Documents and you will be able to access them from any web browser. That way, you’ll have everything you need to apply for your jobs available on any computer.

Job Search Tools
Consider using a job search management tool like JibberJobber ( to manage your activities online and keep track of where you have applied, who you have contacted, and what you need to do next.
An Excel spreadsheet works, too. Set up columns for:

Company Name
Date Resume Sent
Contact Person
Follow Up Date

Another option is the contact manager that comes with some email programs, like Microsoft Outlook. Regardless of what product you use, you need to be able to keep track of your job applications and the people who are helping you with them.

Get all the tools you need in place before you start. It’s much easier to apply for jobs when you’re organized, than when you have to run to the store to get paper for your printer or to the Post Office to get stamps, so you can get a resume in the mail.

Job Search Tools:
Phone (landline or cell phone) with voicemail
Email Address
Organizer / Planner
Contact Manager
Mailing Envelopes

Get Organized
Set aside some time to work on your job search. Job searching really is a whole lot like work and it’s going to take a dedicated effort to find a new position. One thing to keep in mind is that most people don’t look for jobs on the weekend. So, if you can spend a few weekend hours on your job search, you’ll have an edge over other applicants and your application may be among the first the hiring manager sees on Monday morning.

Get Help
If you’re not sure about what you want to do or are having difficulty with your job search, remember that there is help available. If you’re a college student or graduate, your career services office may be able to assist.
There are career counselors and coaches that can provide assistance. Visit the National Career Development Association ( for a list of certified counselors in your area. Many state department of labor offices provide workshops and assistance for job seekers, as well.

Be Active
You need to actively work at your job search. One job seeker lost an opportunity for what could have been a dream job because he didn’t check his email in a timely manner. By the time he got around to checking it, someone else had been hired.

Job Search Checklist:
Apply Immediately – Don’t wait to apply for jobs that match your specification.
Check Email – check at least twice a day – early in the morning and mid-afternoon, so you can respond the same day you received the message.
Respond to Email – answer recruiter and contact email immediately.
Telephone – Check for messages throughout the day (if you’re working, check your voicemail during breaks and/or your lunch hour).
Mail – Check your mail, too, you may get a letter or postcard asking you to call to schedule an interview.
Networking Sites – Outreach to contacts and respond to messages from anyone who is helping you with your job search in a timely manner.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Why employers hire ex-offenders

A criminal record is usually not the kind of qualification most employers have in mind when looking for new hires.But some managers know that formerly incarcerated employees can add value to their companies.Mark Peters, CEO of Butterball Farms, Inc., a national supplier of specialty butters, regularly hires former prisoners and says companies should consider giving these workers a chance. He's launching a study and wants other companies to participate in it to examine the benefits and challenges of those who have spent time behind bars.

While many employers remain skeptical about hiring ex-offenders, others extol the benefits of adding these members to your staff. Here are four reasons, in addition to the social benefit, why you should consider rehabilitated offenders.
1. They'll be looking out for you since you looked out for them.
Since most people who have spent time in prison find it difficult to get jobs and re-enter society, they'll likely be extremely grateful and loyal to any employer who gives them a chance.
“There's plenty of people I can hire that don't care if they work for me or the guy down the street,” said Peters. “I'd rather have somebody who's really engaged and helping my organization be successful. So if I help someone else be successful, they're a lot more interested in helping me be successful.”
2. The training they received in prison may be transferable to your job.
Many people who spend time behind bars are able to receive vocational training and participate in certification programs for GEDs and college degrees, which can help prepare them for employment and provide valuable skills that transfer across fields. It might also mean they are familiar with discipline and hard work.
3. They'll stay with you longer.
People who have been incarcerated greatly value their jobs when they get hired, according to the Travis County Offender Workforce Development Program in Texas. Their website says, "The ex-offenders in our program have demonstrated a commitment to leading an honest and responsible life. Finding employment is not easy for them--once hired they are not likely to quit--they are highly motivated to become long-term employees."
4. There could be tax incentives for employers.
Business who hire ex-felons within one year after they are convicted or released from prison may qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit which gives employers a maximum of $2,400 for each adult hired. 


Monday, August 18, 2014

In a world of online job applications it is very important to have a professional online presence. When creating a personal email address:

  1. Pick an address that you can stick with - your current copy of your resume may last a lot longer than you think. The email address is an ideal way to contact someone about a job, so make sure you'll be regularly findable at that location. Things to avoid here: a friend's server, domains you think you'll leave within 3 years, work addresses that will go away when you leave your current position.
  2. Get good spam filtering - resumes are public things, they get spread far and wide. That's great for your career options, bad for spam. Make sure you have a reasonably decent spam filter on this account.
  3. Set up your account for frequent checking - many fields and recruiters expect a turn around time in hours to days, not weeks. Don't set up an account that you aren't prepared to check regularly.
  4. Avoid references to race, creed, gender, religion, or particularly wild things in your username - john.smith.programmer479 is better than wildandcrazysaturdaynightspecial - no matter what you read into that... it's just not professional.
  5. Avoid very long, typo-prone cases - Realize that in some cases you'll have to hand write the email address or that it may end up being hand-typed by a reader - a few numbers are not a big deal - john.smith.394857 is fine. But something with a very long string of digits, or cases of highly typo prone usernames are something to avoid 
  6. Do connect it with anything professionally related to you, don't connect it to anything that makes you look unprofessional - the classic being don't use a username for your email that is easily connected to your drunken pictures on Facebook. But the positive view is that it's not so bad if, for example, your username is easily connected to great questions and answers.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tips when applying for jobs online:

1. Prioritize listings that match your skill set directly

2. Fill out forms quickly, leaving selected questions unanswered.

3. When asked for your salary, write “$1,” “$10,” or “$100,” so you fill in the blank but don’t scotch a compensation negotiation in advance.

4. On other queries, like a request for references, or your current position, especially if you’re unemployed, write “to be discussed.”

5. Customize your résumé to the listing; make sure it includes keywords.

6. Write a concise cover letter that specifically addresses the job’s requirements.

7. Most important: Search your virtual and face-to-face network for a connection to the job you want

8. Use a professional email address including your full name.

Monday, July 7, 2014

New verification source for federal ex-felons

After working closely with the Department of Labor for the past year to craft a new verification policy for federal ex-felon applicants, WOTC Solutions is pleased to announce that all State WOTC Coordinator's offices can now use the online federal inmate locator to verify WOTC eligibility for federal ex-felons.

Until this change, WOTC applications for federal ex-felons have sat at the back of the processing line because there was no universal source to verify federal felony conviction and release dates. This has resulted in WOTC applications pending for years, preventing businesses from taking advantage of the $2,400.00 tax credit due to them.

We expect this new WOTC verification source to speed up the certification process for our clients and for all employers who see the value in the WOTC and use it to lower their tax liabilities.

We’re very happy to have been part of this solution and we thank you for your continued support!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Voting rights possibly restored for some categories of ex-offenders

Rand Paul (KY Senator) is introducing a bill this week to restore voting rights to nonviolent felons in federal elections.

Paul is also pursuing drug sentencing reform in the Senate and is mulling efforts aimed at easing nonviolent criminals back into the job market. He even wants to redefine some drug offenses currently classified as felonies to misdemeanors.

Together, the moves add up to a concerted effort to get minorities, young people and civil libertarians excited about Republicans — groups that much of the party admits it needs.

The re-enfranchisement of convicted felons has long been a cause of liberals like Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), whose own bill would deliver voting rights to ex-cons regardless of the crimes they’ve committed.

Republicans have been absent from that effort, so Paul’s embrace of voting rights legislation has excited civil rights groups, even though a bipartisan deal on voting rights is likely years away.

“Having both a Republican voice and a Democratic voice on this issue is a huge step forward,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, who runs the Brennan Center for Justice’s Washington office. “That is going to help change the national conversation.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Job seekers often struggle to figure out when they should follow up with an employer after applying for a job, or whether they should follow up at all. Here's some guidance on how you can follow up appropriately at each stage of the hiring process.

After you submit your application. Like it or not, after you submit your application, the ball is in the employer's court. They might not even be reviewing applications for a few weeks, or they might have hundreds to sift through. So this stage of the game is about being patient.
Job seekers are sometimes advised that they should call at this stage to "check on their application" or to try to schedule an interview. But most employers don't respond well to this, viewing it as overly aggressive and, yes, annoying. After all, you're not the only person applying for the job; multiply your phone call by 200 to 300 applicants, and you'll see why employers are annoyed.
Realistically, the way to stand out at this stage isn't by having an overly aggressive, rules-don't-apply-to-me, pay-attention-to-me-now approach. Instead, you'll stand out by being a highly qualified candidate, writing a great cover letter, and being responsive, thoughtful, and enthusiastic.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Next Step is very different from typical Reentry programs and solutions. We spend a lot of time explaining how we work and how you can benefit and decided to comprise a short list of tips for ultimate success in 2014!

1. Enroll everyone.  Your agency needs to enroll everyone who comes through your facility. Determine the best point in your intake process for this to occur to save time. Larger numbers of enrollments increase the success of our service and quality of matched leads.

2.  Report all jobs.  We need you to report all jobs obtained of all your clients.  Our service relies on your agency enrolling every eligible candidate and reporting jobs for every eligible candidate.  These may be jobs that did not come from our leads.  As a company who hires one ex-felon often will hire another in the future, it is important to keep growing the database with companies we may not have reached with our marketing.  The stronger the database, the more jobs will come from it.  We need these reports on a regular basis to ensure companies that are hiring your clients are completing all paperwork necessary and meeting the 28-day deadline to qualify for the tax credit, which is a key motivator to hire from our candidates again.

3.  Communicate.  We need feedback on the leads we send you!  If a company has moved or closed, please let us know.  If an individual needs more leads, let us know.  If you will be on vacation and need to send your job reports the following week, let us know. You are our client and we are here to help you get the best results possible! 

This is a very simple process and we're here to better help your clients and ultimately be a resource for you and your agency.