New York City wasn’t for Caitlin Hanley.
She was an avid backpacker, a downhill skier and spelunker. Her heart was out west.
An article about Wyoming Grown, a Department of Workforce Services job recruitment program, published in the New York Times last summer promised opportunity.
“My mom saw the article and said ‘Why don’t you put your resume in?’” Hanley said. “I did it without thinking much more about it.
With Wyoming Grown’s help, Hanley landed a job as a project manager at Cheyenne advertising agency Warehouse Twenty One last fall.
Along the way, a program representative offered advice, delivered job openings and even helped Hanley apartment hunt.
“It went very smooth. I tell friends all the time to put their resume in if they are looking to move out west,” Hanley said.
Hanley is one of 29 people to find a job with the help of Wyoming Grown since the internet-based recruitment program launched in May 2015.
Interested job seekers sign up on the program’s website. Soon, they receive a call from a recruiter who links them to available work in the Cowboy State.
Participants also receive a letter from Gov. Matt Mead.
“Wyoming has about 600,000 people, but the population growth is slowing drastically,” said Hayley McKee, a spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. “The state’s median age is well above 40 years old.”
Today, there are 187 participants, from 36 states and a handful of countries, in the Wyoming Grown program.
About two dozen recruiters have helped applicants land jobs in 10 towns around Wyoming in occupations ranging from healthcare to education.
Those fields, in particular, are expected to see high demand in coming years as Wyomingites age and retire. Nearly one in three Wyomingites will be 60 or older by 2030, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Just four years ago, only 22 percent of the population was that age.
Going forward, Wyoming Grown recruiters will focus on attracting healthcare professionals and educators, McKee said.
“Baby boomers are retiring and 60 percent of our youth are leaving, so we are trying to address workforce shortages from both directions in these specialized fields,” McKee said.
Wyoming Grown focuses on former residents, but the program also appeals to professionals with family ties to the area.
One of those professionals is Bobby Baker. He grew up in Oklahoma, but his parents moved to Cheyenne after he left for college.
“I’ve always liked this part of the country, so I started looking for jobs over the last few years,” Baker said.
None of his job search efforts were as effective as working with a local recruiter.
“It’s nice to have someone look out for you on the ground level. When you’re remote, the typical job sites aren’t going to be as much help,” Baker said. “My recruiter actually reached out around town for me.”
Baker began putting his Ph.D. to use in December as a human resource development specialist at Laramie County Community College.
“It’s a tool to fill the gaps in the workforce,” McKee said. “The folks in this program have unique skillsets employers have needed to be more successful. These people are familiar with the people, the culture and the climate of Wyoming.”
The Department of Workforce Services has similar programs designed to help in-state workers find new jobs in the state. Grants are available from the Workforce Development Training Fund to assist with training workers for both existing and new jobs. There are 20 local workforce centers throughout Wyoming poised to help people find work.
“The same level of service Wyoming Grown participants receive can be found at our workforce centers,” McKee said. “We provide job search help, career counseling, interview skills training, anything you need.”
About the Wyoming Business Council. Our mission is to increase Wyoming’s prosperity. We envision a Wyoming where industries are strong, diverse and expanding. Small business is a big deal. Communities have the highest quality of life. Wyoming is the technology center of the High Plains. Wyoming knows no boundaries. Please go to www.wyomingbusiness.org for more information.