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Employer Spotlight: Vocation Depot

Nonprofit organization helps veterans and others find jobs

spinner image a man in a wheelchair hands a resume to three people during an interview

When military veteran Kevin Vincent suffered a service-related injury, he found himself frustrated by the lack of employment agencies that helped people with disabilities find jobs. Noticing a larger trend at play, Vincent and best friend Tony Farinella set out to close that gap in the market.

In 2013, the two veterans founded Vocation Depot, a nonprofit employment services organization based in Plant City, Florida, that helps people with disabilities find meaningful career opportunities. Vocation Depot works with several employers who value veterans in the workplace, most notably the Florida Vocational Rehabilitation Division, a subsidiary of the state’s Department of Education. The staffing agency connects more than 5,000 veterans with physical and behavioral disabilities to job opportunities across 20 counties in Florida.

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Why Vocation Depot values experience

Cofounder Farinella understands that age is an asset. He knows the potential inclusivity has to transform the customer-client experience, but diversity alone does not equate to inclusivity. True inclusivity must start internally. For example, creating a workplace where workers from a diversity of ages, perspectives, gender identities, races, abilities and skill sets feel genuinely safe can eliminate a team’s blind spots and drive innovation.

Age is one type of diversity that we all share and, with shifting labor force demographics, smart employers understand the value in building age-friendly workplaces. With a team of eight full-time employment specialists, six part-time employment specialists and five administrative employees, more than 25 percent of Vocation Depot’s workforce is over 45 years old. Age inclusivity has allowed Vocation Depot to serve its expanding client base, meet its organizational goals and offer focused mentorship to its veteran talent.

“At the Vocation Depot, we believe that older workers are invaluable. They have unique experiences in both life and work that help them connect with our clients on a different level,” Farinella says.

Fostering a multigenerational workforce

Vocation Depot signed the AARP Employer Pledge in 2018 and joined the more than 1,900 employers nationwide to equip its workforce with tools that promote age inclusivity. Vocation Depot’s multigenerational workforce is supported by these four policies and practices: 

1. A flexible work environment. As a veteran-focused organization, Vocation Depot intricately weaves a growth mindset and flexibility into the tapestry of its workplace. The company offers work arrangements for employees who have caregiving and other life demands outside traditional work hours. Farinella says Vocation Depot embraces a get-your-work-done mentality to drive results, and he believes that biases in favor of workers who are visible in the office during business hours can be counterintuitive to productivity. He says employers should focus on workers’ results.

2. Mentorship. The presence of older adults in the workplace can have a positive ripple effect for workers of all ages and in the workforce at-large. Mentorship and reverse mentorship can be natural byproducts of intergenerational collaboration. When pairing mixed-aged teams, Vocation Depot has noticed a spillover of not only technical skills but also soft skills, including maturity, stability and critical thinking.

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3. Upskilling and reskilling. With a shortage of candidates entering the labor force and many people retiring, business leaders can’t afford high employee turnover rates. Vocation Depot, similar to many Pledge Signers, prioritizes age-inclusive training opportunities as a way to retain its employees. All employment specialists receive ongoing training and support to receive necessary state certifications for their personal and professional development.

4. Online onboarding. Vocation Depot invests thoughtfully in new approaches to support its multigenerational workforce. One such method includes moving its onboarding process online to offer accessibility and flexibility to its employees who are juggling work and caregiving demands.

Vocation Depot’s advice to job seekers

Farinella is passionate about his line of work and likes to see the same enthusiasm in applicants. He advises job seekers, whether applying to Vocation Depot or another employer, to think outside the box in terms of how they frame relevant skills and experience, especially when changing industries. For example, Farinella notes that many of Depot’s successful hires included their personal experiences caregiving for family members with special needs or an aging parent on their resume. Volunteering is also a promising pathway to gain relevant industry experience.

If you need help refreshing your resume, you can visit AARP Resume Advisor to get started. You may also create a profile and upload your resume to the AARP Job Board to allow age-inclusive employers such as Vocation Depot to search for you directly. Set alerts on the Job Board to stay connected to new job openings, including local and remote opportunities.

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