College Leadership regularly makes decisions about how the various departments and employees will spend their time and effort and how much money will be made available. This small group at the top of every college structure has the ability to help more students get off to a better start in their careers.
Before making a decision about changes that would increase student job hunting success, College Leaders should first answer eight questions:
1. Are your College Leaders ‘highly motivated’ to help more students land good jobs? (If your College Leaders are not fully committed to improving student employment success, STOP HERE.)
2. Are your College Leaders willing to retain an Outside Consultant who will work closely with the Team to help guide and expedite the entire project?
3. Will your College Leaders quickly identify the Team Members who will be assigned the responsibility for investigating and recommending the improvements, best practices, changes, tools, techniques and activities that will ensure better student employment outcomes? Team Members to be included:
a. A Well-Known and Highly Respected Vice President or College Leader
should be selected to serve as the full-time Team Leader for the
Investigation, Recommendation and Implementation phases
b. The Director of Career Services
c. Two Respected Department Heads – From a different areas of the college
d. Two well-known Student Leaders – From a different majors
e. One Recent Graduate who struggled to find and land a good job
f. One Campus Recruiter from a Major Employer
g. An Outside Consultant who will help lead this project
4. Will College Leaders make it possible for the Team to present their findings and recommendations not later than six months from their first meeting?
5. Will your College Leaders welcome, support and implement the team’s recommendations for helping students prepare for a desirable employment outcome?
6. Will your College Leaders become visibly involved and play a critical role in breaking down any barriers and handling any problems or objections that may slow or interfere with the implementation process?
7. Will College Leaders make it possible for the implementation process to begin immediately upon acceptance of the recommendations? (Note: Implementation should be broken into steps and changes that will take place over the next three years.)
8. Will College Leaders encourage Team Members to seek and obtain input and honest feedback from students and recent grads about their needs and experiences?
A Place To Start – When these questions are answered in the affirmative, the Team can begin to look into the areas suggested below:
1. What is the current size, structure and effectiveness of the Career Services Department?
– How can the department be restructured to help many more students?
– What duties should be reduced or eliminated?
* Activities that contribute little to student employment success
* Reduce one-on-one activities in favor of more group activities
* Reduce manual activities in favor of automated activities
– What new or different personnel assignments should be considered?
– What metrics should be used to measure progress and effectiveness?
– What models, examples, lists, steps, ideas, suggestions, databases etc. should be made available to students?
– What are current and former students saying about the services provided?
– What part-time jobs should be created for talented, upper class students who will help with this project? (Information Gathering, Recordkeeping, Job Identification, Automation, Data Analysis, Student Contact, Coaching, Information Distribution, etc.)
2. What is the current employment success rate (students obtain a good job in their field of interest) for students in ‘each major’ offered by your college?
3. The College Community includes underutilized people, departments and organizations that can and should be helping students prepare to land a job that will launch their careers. Some of these include:
– Adjunct Instructors
– Providers of Goods and Services
– College Leaders
– Board Members
– Local Government
– Local Business Associations
– Local Professional Associations
4. What duties should be assigned to members of the College Community?
– Help students develop and pursue their Personal Employment Plan
– Identify potential employers for students in each major
– Identify job-related or desirable full-time, part-time and summer Jobs for students in each major
– Help students identify and pursue the performance, experience and accomplishments that will impress their target employers
– Identify and tap more underutilized sources for student employment help
5. What are some of the steps and activities your college can utilize to jumpstart student employment success? Note: This list is not all-inclusive. Your College should also look at additional factors and needs that are identified by the Team.
– Encourage beginning students to participate in the college’s job search preparation system
– Make it clear to everyone that job search preparation is a semester by semester process, not a last minute event
– Help students identify a career direction early in their college experience
– Identify and expand new and better job search preparation information delivery systems
– Develop strategies, systems and databases that students can use
– Involve exceptional students in teaching, coaching, recordkeeping, research, networking, automation and follow-up etc.
– Conduct Group Training Sessions for students at every step of the job search preparation and employment process
– Develop accomplishment and experience oriented Résumé models for students to follow
– Develop accomplishment and experience oriented Sales Letter models for students to follow
– Help students develop talking points and success stories to utilize during interviews
– Offer multiple mock interview opportunities, so students can practice
– Assign everyone in the college community a role that will help students in some way (Coaching, Job Identification, Networking, etc.)
– Use metrics to measure success and identify weak spots
– Offer incentives to those in the college community who play a critical role in improving student employment success
– Offer incentives to Employers that hire your students into full-time positions or provide students with part-time or summer jobs
– Involve Employers in student information and training sessions
– Expect Suppliers of goods and services to take an interest in student employment
– Show Parents ways they can help increase student employment success
– Utilize your Alumni network to help increase student employment success
– Build relationships with Organizations in the community
Student employment success is a partnership between the college and the student. It requires colleges to accept new thinking and behavior clearly focused on positive employment results for students. It also requires College Leaders to constantly seek and try new ways of helping students. Maintaining the status quo will not give students the results they want.
Students need a helping hand in order to learn about job search preparation and how to carry it all out. It is up to the college to provide that information, the tools and the guidance. However, it is up to each student to learn the system, utilize the tools and apply the techniques that will create interest on the part of desirable employers.
College leaders should never forget that students want only three things:
– A good education
– An enjoyable college experience
– A desirable job when they graduate
Furthermore, College Leaders must understand that student employment success will not change very much without their full support, visible involvement and an active voice that requires the results to be measured, continually improved and openly communicated.
Your college leaders can double the number of students who land good jobs, if they want to.