Immigrant Advantage: A Changing Entry-Level Workforce in America

In his book, Hire the American Dream, Dave Melton makes no secret of his respect and admiration for immigrant workers who have come to America in search of opportunity. He has hired - and promoted - many of them at his Domino's locations. He says that a workforce shift in our country is leading to more and more frontline minimum-wage employees coming from immigrant population groups, especially in larger metropolitan areas. It's no wonder, census figures estimate that 8 million immigrants arrived in the U.S. between 2000 and 2007.

"Some people think that just because a person is struggling with the language, they are somehow less intelligent or less educated," says Melton. "That is, unfortunately, a common misconception I've heard from others about the members of my team and about immigrants in general." He adds that the team members at his stores are intelligent, in this country legally, pay their taxes, and work hard. Subsequently, they make great employees. Despite the many social, economic, and religious differences that immigrants may have, Melton has found them to be dependable hard-working people who are just trying to earn a living and raise a family.

"Immigrants are often great employees because they come to this country seeking the American dream and they expect to actively participate in the American work ethic," says Melton. He says they come here because they've heard of the land of opportunity and they're anxious to go to work and assimilate - and, of course, participate in that American dream.

Melton has found that immigrants typically come equipped with "clean slates" and are ready and willing to be taught the American work ethic, culture, and values. "Most entry-level employees are looking for experience, opportunity, and, of course, money," he says. "Immigrants are also looking to learn how to best function in American culture." Too often, he says, immigrants are stereotyped by some and must struggle to overcome these misunderstandings. Perhaps this is another reason why they work so hard.

He cautions other franchise operators not to fall into the trap of "hiring themselves." He's referring to hiring only people who look like you, have the same background, and maybe went to the same schools. That's a strategy that makes sense, but it can eliminate a large number of otherwise qualified prospects for your business.

"If savvy business owners are willing to work with immigrants and support them, they will be rewarded with years of loyal service and great performance from their employees."

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