Colleges and universities are taking a closer look at the level of career services support they are delivering to students beyond the learning experience. While much of this has to do with the current economy and the need for schools to continually find new and better ways to support students, the end goal for most institutions is regulatory compliance.STATE OF THE INDUSTRY:Government intervention in higher education coupled with a decline in jobs over the last few years is forcing colleges and universities to take on greater responsibility when it comes to supporting students through the career placement process. Keep in mind that:
Schools that can prove placement rates will be able to retain their student funding.
Schools that dedicate more resources to their career services department will have a greater opportunity to connect graduates with employers.
Schools that place more students in jobs can expect to see an increase in enrollment and retention as a result of their positive placement results.
Because of Gainful Employment, colleges and universities across the country are looking at career services in a whole new light and acknowledging its growing importance. However, many schools need assistance identifying where to best allocate resources in order to advance their career services support. Colleges and universities need to evaluate and consider the processes and systems that need to be put into place to help them overcome challenges, specifically with regards to management and reporting.When it comes to career services management, schools need to ask themselves the following questions:
Do we have the right processes in place to communicate with employers and students, as well as connect them and monitor their interaction?
Do we have the data management practices in place that will allow students to proactively reach out to employers to market themselves?
Do we have the data management practices in place that will allow us to create a comprehensive database of qualified candidates?
Do we have the capabilities to allow employers to access student applicants and post open positions?
When it comes to career services reporting, schools need to ask themselves the following questions:
Are we tracking the right Career Services Outcomes in terms of student and placement data?
Can we easily access the data to pull the reports and analytics we need to prove placement and meet compliance?
Do we have the ability to follow-up with alumni and track career results long term?
Colleges and universities need to implement the systems and processes that will allow them to increase placement rates and track the data for accreditation and federal regulatory purposes. Bringing software into the mix can make it easier to connect students and employers, creating greater efficiencies and stronger results. It can also facilitate reporting capabilities so schools can stay competitive and compliant. There are specific things that students, employers and schools need to do, and information they need to access in order to strengthen placement results.STUDENT NEEDS:It isn’t enough anymore to simply gain the skills necessary for job success, rather students need to be able to market themselves to employers. Colleges and universities need to provide a place and a process for students to do this.Build an Online Profile- students need to be able to showcase their academic, personal and professional accomplishments in order to attract employers.Attach a Cover Letter and Resume- students need to be able to upload and update attachments in order to communicate their career goals, experience and qualifications; they also need to be able to provide viewing access to potential employers.Search Employer Profiles- students need access to the various employers who are hiring in their field so they can align their skill sets and goals with organizations for which they would like to work.Search Job/Internship Postings- students need access to as much real world experience as possible in order to get their foot in the door with employers.EMPLOYER NEEDS:The shift in the job market has meant that employers have been able to be more selective in the hiring process. As we embark on an economic recovery, that may or may not continue. Regardless, employers also need to be able to market themselves, as well as search for and easily connect with qualified candidates.Create Company Profile- employers need to be able to communicate their value proposition to future employees in terms of their business model, markets served, mission, culture and goalsPost Job Openings Online- employers need an efficient way to spread the word about job opportunities to a network of students and graduates who will most likely meet prerequisites.View Student Background and Resume- employers need to be able to quickly and easily learn about and qualify prospective applicants.Generate Resume Books- employers need to be able to compile resumes from qualified applicants in order to compare skill sets and achievements, and seek out the most appropriate candidate.COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY NEEDS:As colleges and universities take on greater accountability in job placement, they need to look for new ways to help students and graduates succeed beyond the classroom on a professional level. They can accomplish this by delivering a higher level of support throughout the education process. They also need to work closely with employers to make sure job candidates are meeting employer expectations, as well as connect these job seekers with their potential future employers.When it comes to supporting students, schools need to do the following:Track Student Information for Advising- career services advisors need a comprehensive tool set that enables them to track the student through the job search, assessing qualification and activities, as well as conducting follow-ups.
Integrated Academic and Demographic Information- advisors need a centralized place to access the student’s information, from grades to career goals so they can make sure the student is confident and capable in his or her chosen field, as well as on track to meet employer requirements.
Contact Management and Communication Tools- advisors need to be able to regularly reach out to students regarding such things as resume suggestions, new job postings and more.
Profile Background, Skill Sets and Preferences- advisors need to be able to easily compile a student’s information in order to identify career opportunities that would be a fit for the student.
Track Opportunities and Career Services Outcomes- career services advisors need an efficient way to stay on top of all postings so they can better match qualified students with job opportunities; they also need to manage and measure which postings secure hires.Track Placement Information, Salary and Employment History- colleges need an easy way to analyze how many students are being placed, what they are earning, the success rate of each student once placed, and the career path each student follows out of school.When it comes to engaging with employers, schools need to do the following:Communicate with and Manage Potential Employers- colleges need a tool set that will enable them to build stronger employer relationships in order to better match students with jobs, as well as to secure the school’s reputation as a credible source of qualified graduates.
Track Multiple Locations and Contacts Per Employer- schools need to make sure they always have a current database of employers with which they can connect students.
Track Multiple Opportunity Types- advisors need to be able to analyze job details, such as full time, part time, hourly, internship, externship and more.
Contact Management- advisors need to be able to track current and past outreach with employers to see which relationships are in good standings and where additional outreach is necessary.
Communication Tools- advisors need to be able to proactively reach out to employers to reinforce the relationship and stay top of mind.
Track and Manage Job Requisitions- career services advisors need an easy way to follow existing and new job postings so they can match qualified applicants with those employers and opportunities.Manage Alumni Network at the Employer- the career services team needs to be able to track and report on the number of students working with a specific organization so they can assess the success rates of graduates by employer, as well as determine organizations where their students’ skill sets are the best fit.CONCLUSION:Colleges and universities that advance their career services are going to be at an advantage. Their students will be better matched with career opportunities in which they have the chance to succeed, and the schools will be able to use the placement information to support compliance. A well thought out career services approach can mean more placements, which in turn can drive increased retention and stronger enrollment.When looking at career services strategies, it is critical that schools simplify management processes and streamline reporting capabilities. A comprehensive student data management system that includes student and employer portals, as well as job seeker and employer CRMs can help colleges and universities do this by:
Collecting all information in a central location
Eliminating the need for redundant and outdated spreadsheets
Allowing multiple levels of staff within the organization to access the information in real time