Career Coaching Notes: How Are You Meeting Student Needs?

Rayna Anderson

Rayna A. Anderson, career counselor, University of Houston
Twitter: @Rayna_Anderson
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/RaynaA
Blog: RaynaAnderson.wordpress.com
Blogs from Rayna Anderson

Many of today’s college students are bold, hungry, and pressed for time. They have high expectations and want to be connected with the best opportunities in the fastest way possible. So is the traditional, one-hour appointment the most effective way for your staff to use its time? Not always.

You’ve seen it before: a student comes in for their scheduled appointment, but their cell phone keeps buzzing and they seem to be very preoccupied. They nod you along hurriedly as if to say, “Yeah, yeah. Just get to the good stuff already!” This behavior reflects several research findings that suggest that the average American attention span is getting shorter.

As professionals in a helping field, we get teased about the “fluffy” nature of our work and that we spend too much time on “touchy, feely” discussions. But in today’s world of easy access and instant gratification, the reality is that not every student needs a hug.

(Find tips and best practices in career counseling and coaching on NACEWeb.)

So, is your staff able to shift gears based on students’ needs? Are we acknowledging the difference between counseling and coaching and then adjusting our services accordingly? Or, have we made hour long appointments our standard? These longer appointments are great when a student has career concerns that require in-depth attention but in other cases, students just need quick and specific advice. Answer the poll and comment below; let us know your opinion on appointment duration and the need for a change of pace in career services!

Why Recruiters Ignore Students’ LinkedIn Invitations

Andres TraslavinaAndres Traslavina, Director of Global Recruiting, Whole Foods Market
Twitter: @traslavina
LinkedIn: http:www.linkedin.com/in/traslavina

I receive a number of daily invitations from people I don’t know, including students, who want to connect on LinkedIn.

My first reaction when I see such invitations is to ignore and delete. However, I changed my views on this a while ago based on my understanding of the fundamental differences in people’s relationship talent and circumstances.

Personalizing an invitation is one common “tip” or advice provided by recruiting and networking professionals.  So why do people keep sending me impersonal invites?

Here are my theories:

  • They have not received or read anything that implies this is bad practice. In addition, LinkedIn makes it easy to ignore what would, under other circumstances, be a bad practice. LinkedIn’s objective is to continue to grow their user base.
  • They simply want to quickly grow their network and want to spend the least amount of time doing it.
  • Success for the sender depends on building as many connections as possible.
  • People’s circumstances and perspectives are very different: Active candidates, networkers, passive candidates, happy employees, sales professionals, etc.

Naturally, I am compelled to connect with those who have interests in common with me. In recruiting, this natural ability helps me discover commonalities between me, or the brand I represent and the potential job candidate.

All recruiters know how to research candidates, and often use their available social channels to accomplish this. If you truly enjoy this process, you are a natural recruiter. If you enjoy the process of “hunting” for people without necessarily feel eager to connect and you are great at it, you are a natural sourcer.

These are two different sets of talent. Can you have both? Absolutely.

My point is that for individuals like me, a non-personal invitation will not likely “push” the right button. In summary, my advice coincides with most recruiting professionals: “Personalize your invitation, it takes one minute.”

However, the next time you receive an “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” think about their circumstances and the differences in our natural abilities to connect with others.

Follow Andres on Twitter @traslavina or connect with him on LinkedIn (just make sure it’s personalized).

 

Use Wideo to Enhance Your Social Media Message

Katrina Zaremba

Katrina Zaremba, Communications Coordinator, University Career Center, University of Kansas
Twitter: @KatrinaZaremba
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/katrinazaremba

We all know that videos are a great way to enhance engagement with your social media following. But why? Watch this short video to find out!

So how can you create visually stimulating, quick videos without a lot of time, effort, or money? Wideo! You can create a free account in no time and start wideoing today! Create videos using built in images or import your own, using easy animations to make your videos come alive. There are Wideo tutorials to teach you how to use this fun and easy tool! The free version allows you to share your videos via social media but, unfortunately, does not allow for mp4 downloading or removal of the Wideo branding and watermark.

Not sure where to start? Check out how our office is using videos to collaborate with faculty and share resume tips with students. I even used Wideo to create my #NACE14 video.

Now that you have some ideas, here are a few tips to keep in mind while creating Wideos:

  1. Keep your videos short and to the point. Most people prefer to watch videos that are under a minute, so stick as close to that time frame as you can.
  2. Use a storyboard to organize how you will communicate your thoughts. It will end up saving you time in the long run.
  3. Simple is often better. Keep your color palette to 3 different colors or less and keep a consistent theme.
  4. Promote your Wideos via multiple social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!
  5. Bookmark the Wideo blog for more tips and tricks on using this fun resource.

I would love to hear ways in which you plan to use this resource. Have fun wideoing!

Lessons Learned at #NACE14

ongDavid Ong, Director, Corporate Recruiting, Maximus, Inc.
Twitter: @dtong2565
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-ong/0/604/513

It’s been two weeks since the 2014 NACE Conference, and I’ve finally recovered from the profound lack of sleep that I experienced in San Antonio. (For those of you that weren’t there, the non-stop networking combined with the excitement in the city from the Spurs NBA title win turned our hotel complex into a never-ending celebration chamber!)

With my batteries now re-charged, here are a few general observations from the conference:

1) Our profession is in a very dynamic phase—Is it just me, or was anyone else just in awe of how many critical issues and trends are hitting simultaneously. From First Destinations to OFCCP to Big Data to STEM Education……It’s clear that the game is changing big time! The conference was the perfect opportunity to exchange ideas with my peers, my customers, and our affiliate members.

2) Our future looks bright—If the conference first-time attendee session was any indication, we’re in great hands. The new attendees seemed so highly engaged, inquisitive, and truly excited about being NACE members and they wanted to know how to get more involved, which bodes well for all of our members. Every year this group gets bigger. Case in point: We typically split the newcomers into groups of about 15 people, and we assign past or present NACE board members to facilitate discussion. To our shock, we actually ran short on NACE board representatives! (Kudos to our terrific conference co-chairs Maura Quinn from Liberty Mutual and Fred Burke from Baruch College for stepping in to facilitate!)

3) We have some great leaders at NACE—How can anyone not be impressed by the performance of our fearless leader, Dan Black of EY? The guy attended almost every organized event, chatted with virtually everyone he met, enlightened (and entertained) us with his “Early Show” interviews of NACE award winners. He threw down the ultimate challenge to our members with a new member outreach proposal. He also did a great job with the passing of the torch to President Sam Ratcliffe of VMI, who did a wonderful job of welcoming first-time attendees and gave us an enlightening glimpse into the college recruiting future. Like many of you, I’m really psyched to see what Sam has in store for all of us now that he’s the president!

One last comment….There is real power in blogging—I’ve got to be honest….When the folks at NACE asked me to consider writing this blog, I was a little hesitant. Questions like “What am I going to write about?” “Will anybody read it?” and “If they read it, will they fall asleep?” all entered into my head. Thankfully, the NACE conference changed my view of blogging after I had several encounters with attendees who recognized me from the blog photo (Note to self: Pick up a gift for our company photographer.) and asked to take a selfie with them, which promptly got posted on social media outlets (Other note to self: Learn to take selfies from above not below.) I heard from other NACE bloggers that they had similar experiences to mine, so a huge thanks to those of you that took the time to let us know that you’re enjoying this latest communications outlet from NACE!

That’s it for now….Next NACE stop for me: the Summer of 2014 Board of Directors meeting in Boston.

You’ll find a list of NACE’s Board of Directors on NACEWeb. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the NACE Blog Team, contact Claudia Allen.

Carpe NACE!

Chaim ShapiroChaim Shapiro
Website: http://chaimshapiro.com/
Twitter: @chaimshapiro
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro

One of my favorite experiments when speaking in public is to ask the audience how many of them know the name Elisha Gray (without Googling him)?  To date, I have had some weird guesses (no, it wasn’t the guy who dated your roommates’ sister in college) but no correct answers.

I follow up that question by asking how many know the name Alexander Graham Bell.  As you can imagine, everyone is familiar with the name and replies that he is the man who invented the telephone.  That is a well-known fact that we all learned in fourth grade, right?

Only it is not that simple.  The truth is that a man named Elisha Gray filed a patent for a working telephone two hours after the patent was filed by Alexander Graham Bell!

Just 120 minutes, BUT those few moments were the difference between being a household name, forever ensconced in our collective memories, and being regulated to the dustbin of history.

I’m sure you will Google this now, and the story is a bit more complicated than that, but fundamentally, two hours made the difference between historical immortality and being an answer to a trivia question only known by the biggest of US history geeks (I confess).

Obviously this is a rare example, but I think it teaches an important lesson about the value of time.  Wasted time is a commodity we can never recover.  Chances are few, if any, of us will be remembered in perpetuity, but that doesn’t diminish the value of our time.

I can hear you asking, what’s your point (yes, I know you are taking TIME to read this)?  My point is carpe diem.  But don’t just seize the day; seize the moment, because we never know the full impact of any of our actions (or inactions). 

NACE is a great way for all of us to seize the moment.  I know there are great ideas out there, but unless we take the time to share them, they will be lost.  We all have the opportunity to take a leading role in shaping the future of our profession.  Don’t pass up on that!

None of us can hide behind the excuse that we are not well known or part of the NACE leadership because I can personally attest that NACE is open to the thoughts and ideas of all of its members, irrespective of job title.  Leadership and great ideas can come from anyone and at any time (my wife hates when I hop out of bed to write down an idea in the middle of the night).

So don’t hesitate.  Attend a NACE event, register for the annual conference, volunteer your time, join a committee or just share your thoughts with NACE and you WILL become an active part of charting the future.

Ironically, you don’t even have to use Bell (or Gray’s) invention to do so with e-mail, because phone calls are SO last century!

Chaim was a co-chair of the 2013-2014 NACE Principles for Professional Practice Committee and successfully completed NACE’s 2012-2013 Leadership Advancement Program. Find a listing of NACE committees on NACEWeb.

Career Development, the U.S. Job Search, and International Students: Confusion and Anxiety Regarding Networking and Building Professional Relationships (Post 3)

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director of career services, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

A couple of days ago I had a career advising session with an international student. He was very anxious and was “losing a lot of sleep” over the fact that he had graduated a month ago, had not found a job, and was worried he would not find anything in the United States by the time his optional practical training (OPT) started in the next few weeks. I had seen this student several times before, and his resume was strong, and he had substantial experience that would make him a strong candidate for various opportunities in environmental engineering. I asked him to tell me about his job search.

“I spend hours looking and applying to jobs online,” he said. “I’ve applied to over 50 jobs in the past month, and I’ve heard nothing back. I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. Will you look at my resume again?”

I reviewed his resume again. Yep…it still looked good. I asked him if he had done any networking.

“Oh yes, I’ve used LinkedIn and the alumni database to find contacts at companies with open jobs,” he said. “I reach out to them. In my e-mails I introduce myself and ask them to refer me for the position or tell me about any other opportunities.”

I hear this all of the time. In my experience many international students feel very uncomfortable networking for various reasons:

1. They lack confidence in their English language skills;

2. The job search in their home country does not necessitate “networking”—in fact employers may reach out to them to offer positions;

3. They are unaware of resources to use to find alumni or networking leads;

4. They don’t understand the nuts and bolts of networking, and that it is a long-term process with the goal of developing relationships that later lead to jobs. (And this isn’t just an issue with international students; it is an issue for ALL students.)

In order to motivate international students to start networking early (and not view networking as a last-minute, short-term thing), I try to reframe what networking is to them. I tell them that networking is about learning and serving through creating and sustaining professional relationships. I also use a bank analogy that seems to resonate with them. I tell them, “Networking is like creating a bank account, you must make deposits before you can make a withdrawal. Bank accounts, like professional relationships, grow with time and investment.”

Instead of “networking” I use the phrase “information gathering” with students, highlighting how to begin a professional relationship by learning from someone else (e.g., alumni, professionals) via informational interviews. I talk with them about asking the interviewee questions that will create future opportunities to serve them (i.e., sending the interviewee relevant articles or updates on how their feedback has helped).

Now…I know most of you reading this post are, like, “Duh…Ross. I already understand what networking is. Give me some tips I can use!”

I hear ya! Check out some ideas I’ve tried with some success below.

Networking Workshop Activity:

Have students search for a company of interest via an alumni database or LinkedIn, read about the company, find alumni working there, and create a list of questions (not only about the company, but the contact as well) to ask at an informational interview. Then pair the students up, and have them critique each other’s questions.

Next, bring everyone back into a large group and debrief and review some of the questions. Use prompts like: Which questions are the best? Are the questions open-ended, allowing the interviewee to provide plenty of information in her/his response? What questions best create space to serve the interviewee later?

After the question activity, have the students (individually) draft their own informational interview e-mail request. Ask them to pair up and share and critique. Next, bring everyone back into a large group to discuss.

Finally, ask students to create a basic timeline (by month), of when and how to follow up. This will be a very loose timeline as they don’t have an actual “real person” to create the timeline for at this point.

Students will leave feeling more confident now that they have tools, and an action plan to begin networking. I’ve also found adding a small panel of senior international students, that have successfully networked before, answer questions and serve as facilitators during discussions is very helpful (and proves that networking works!).

 Employer Relations Program Idea:

In my experience, most international students really dislike the “cattle call” style career fairs. They don’t feel comfortable with small talk, and feel that talking about themeselves is actually bragging. Overall they feel like they don’t get a chance to really show employers their skills in a meaningful and authentic way. In an effort to help international students connect with employers better (and with incredible support from my manager and colleagues), I tried a different type of employer engagement program, based on the good old science fair (yep—I went old skool, y’all!).

I targeted electrical and computer engineering (ECE) students, and sent them an e-mail about an opportunity to share their most exciting class projects with employers. Students had to sign up, send an abstract about their project, send their resume or LinkedIn URL, and show up the day of the event ready (with their project or poster) to engage with employers and talk about their work.

I also facilitated a networking lunch with the students, employers, faculty, and staff. I scheduled the event, the “Electrical and Computer Engineering Showcase”, the day before the spring career fair to maximize employer attendance. I sent a personal invite to ECE employers (those that had already registered for the career fair AND local companies) to attend this event at no charge to them, and told them to feel free to bring along any alumni working at their company.

The employers loved the idea, and many signed up to attend. The day of the event employers visited every student table to talk about the student projects. I collected feedback from the employers on the students’ conversational skills and projects and asked if, based on the students’ projects, if they’d ever consider hiring one of these new grads (and more than 70 percent said they would!). The employers and students both really enjoyed the event. One student said, “I really had a chance to shine today. We are doing this again next year, right?!”

Share your ideas and strategies for helping international students better understand networking.

This is part three of a series. Don’t miss parts one and two.