The Trouble With Job Postings

Janet R. LongJanet R. Long
Principal, Integrity Search Inc.
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch

Teaching students to navigate and reply effectively to job postings—whether through internal referral systems or external job sites—is a tenet of most career development curricula. There are valuable skills to teach, from developing pointed, persuasive communication to learning to think from an employer’s perspective.

The question is, do these skills go far enough?  Are we preparing today’s emerging graduates to become tomorrow’s passive and complacent  job seekers? The trouble with job postings is that they represent only a snapshot of potential opportunities out there. What’s more, they drive large volumes of traffic to a relative handful of jobs, creating instant and intense competition for every role.

When working in private practice with mid-career job seekers, I encourage them to use the 80/20  rule when it comes to postings. That is, to spend about 20 percent of search time replying to advertised opportunities, and the remaining  80 percent using these postings as a springboard to inform a more pro-active approach.

It’s not too early to give our students the gift of this perspective.  Beyond first-destination landings, it will empower them to propel their efforts beyond the too-frequent black hole of applicant tracking systems designed to weed out rather than invite in.

Here are three ways to help our students look at and leverage job postings to get ahead of the curve:

1) Target employers of interest. Never mind if there’s not a current posting related to a specific area. If this employer is in hiring mode, more relevant roles may develop at any moment. Encourage your students to follow companies on social media, seeking  informal introductions to  internal recruiters. This helps the recruiter as well, who is often measured on metrics such as “time to fill” open roles. Having a talent pipeline for tomorrow’s openings is a strategic advantage—and it allows for informal dialogue before a cast of thousands applies to a specific posting.

2) Looks at what’s trending. On Twitter and beyond, the advertised portion of the job market is a researcher’s paradise! For instance, your students can look for common job titles and descriptive language, even in areas outside of their target geography. This gives them the right vocabulary to use when seeking out networking connections as well as to suggest potential titles and skill areas on their own resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

3) Go for the bold.  Many students already have a dream company in mind when they come to you for help and guidance. Take a tour together of the company’s website and job listings, Twitter feed, LinkedIn page, etc., and help them learn to identify challenges waiting to be solved by a smart, passionate new graduate. Show them how to put this insight to use with existing institutional resources such as alumni networks as well as their own emerging networks. Sometimes it pays to take a risk and reach out to higher-level individuals—it’s an old hiring tenet that you can get referred down the food chain but rarely up!

Have your students tried these techniques?  What are some success stories?

The One Thing Underlying Really Good Career Advice

kevin grubbNACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

How many times during any given year do you say something like the following statements?

  • “At the career fair, make the first move and introduce yourself to the company representatives with a smile and strong handshake.”
  • “It’s a good idea to create and manage a great social media presence online: have you made a LinkedIn profile yet?”
  • “Effective networking is one of the most essential elements to a successful job search. You have to put yourself out there.”

The answer is probably “a zillion.”

These pieces of career advice are frequently mentioned around the web and in career centers across the country. For good reason, too—they’re all important messages for any job seeker to hear. In 2013, I started paying attention to them more, and specifically, the resistance felt from the recipients of this advice. What was it that made some people quick to act on these words and others hesitant about it?

There was one theme that struck me most: courage. Courage underlies these pieces of advice. It’s taking action on something even when facing the fear of it.

Take the student whom you know is top notch on paper. You’ve seen her resume: she’s academically stellar with noteworthy experiences in and out of the classroom. But, she’s not one to generate a conversation. Simply advising her to introduce herself to an employer at a career fair might not work. She might need not only the “how to” of proper introductions, but also some time spent building the courage to do it.

Or, how about the student who is interested in journalism? One great piece of advice for him might be to start a blog. Not only would this give him a venue to practice his work, it would also give him the opportunity to invite others to read it. Perhaps it could turn into a portfolio of writing samples for future job applications. Beyond the instructions for setting up a blog and tips on effective posts, it may take some courage building to help him get comfortable with the idea of putting his work out there.

When I’m talking with someone who’s hesitant about following these pieces of advice, I ask them to identify the cause of their nervousness. Once a fear is named, we can create a plan to address it together. Maybe it’s writing a few “blog posts” and e-mailing them only to close family and friends to get experience hearing feedback. It could be setting the goal of initiating one in person introduction per week, even among peers on campus, until things feel comfortable. Experiencing a few small wins can build the momentum to something bigger.

NACE blog readers, what are your thoughts on courage in career conversations?

Everything You Need to Know About NACE’s Advocacy Mashup

kevin grubbNACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

To say it was interesting would be an understatement. At Friday’s Advocacy Mashup in Washington, DC, NACE and its Advocacy Committee unveiled new standards for first destination surveys, brought in experts on the subject of immigration and internships, and gathered more than 100 career services professionals for discussion on these hottest issues in the field right now. It was a three-pronged, head-spin inducing power meeting that had the room impassioned, empowered and entertained all at once. I was on site, tweeting everything I could to share the action with you. You can check out the full discussion on Twitter with #NACEAdvocacy, and you can also see NACE’s stories from each session on their Storify account.

Here’s my summary from each of the sessions.

First Destination Surveys

We kicked off the day with the unveiling of NACE’s First-Destination Survey Standards and Protocols, led by Manny Contomanolis, Associate Vice President and Director at RIT. The session included lots of time for Q&A and debate, the spirit of which was summed up nicely in this tweet by Kathy Sims from UCLA:

Key themes and noteworthy parts of the standards:

  • New terms: “knowledge rate” (instead of “response rate”) and “career outcome rate” (instead of “placement rate”). You can see more about “knowledge rate” in one of my previous blog posts from the 2013 NACE conference
  • The Standards and Protocols contains a sample survey (emphasis on “sample” cannot be stated enough), and there’s flexibility for institutions to include supplemental questions as deemed fit
  • The recommended minimum knowledge rate for surveys is 65 percent of the graduating class
  • “Full-time employment” would be defined as working 30 hours per week or more (in alignment with provisions in the Affordable Care Act)
  • NACE hopes to see early adopters use these standards with the Class of 2014, followed by wide-spread adoption for surveys of the Class of 2015
  • The target date for gathering survey data would be December 31 of each year, and NACE will request summary data from all institutions to track and share trends in hiring and higher education (participation voluntary)
  • The Standards and Protocols will continue to evolve and feedback is welcome from NACE members

International Students and Immigration Reform

Our two guest speakers for this session were Amy Scott, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations at the Association of American Universities and Heather Stewart, Counsel and Director of Immigration Policy, Public Policy Department at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Both were subject matter experts on our current immigration policies and the activity & debate happening now in the federal government on immigration reform.

What will happen next with immigration reform, its impact on international students and how that will affect work in career services is not yet clear. There are debates right now on immigration status that focus on the level of degree earned (for instance: should the focus be on those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher?) and on area of study (the STEM fields are in primary focus now). More debate is on the possible revision of OPT hours, green cards and visa status. A major recommendation from all of this: career services professionals should work with government relations officials on campus to communicate how these issues impact students and their employment.

If I could give a “quote of the day” award, it would no doubt go to Heather Stewart. On the issue of the big focus on STEM students, she said, “You need STEM, but you need the flower, too” (referring to all of the other courses of study that lead to many necessary careers). You’ll see that line tweeted plenty of times!

Unpaid Internships

Our final session on an issue almost too hot too touch, unpaid internships, was led by Kathy Sims and featured Ross Eisenbrey, Vice President at the Economic Policy Institute and Steven M. Bloom, Director, Federal Relations, Government and Public Affairs at the American Council on Education. Some elements of NACE research on internships were featured, the Department of Labor’s test for unpaid internships was discussed and the audience was on fire with questions concerning what’s legal, ethical and fair.

Christine Cruzvergara of George Mason University tweeted out a highlight of this session – a quick look at what our speakers told us:

The one thought that stuck with me from this conversation was this: when it comes to internships and fairness, one thing we definitely have to discuss is pay. The other is the experience. What is the intern learning and doing? What is the employer teaching and gaining? It might be too early to tell where the conversation on pay, experience and internships is headed, but it’s clear this is something that NACE members from both sides of the recruiting table will be talking about and watching closely.

So, with a brain full of thoughts, a Twitter feed lit up with questions, and a few new connections made, I say thank you to the NACE team, the Advocacy Committee, and the special guest speakers who helped make the Advocacy Mashup possible. I look forward to hearing from you, NACE blog readers, about what you think on this trifecta of critical college-to-career issues.

Career Coaching Notes: Social Networks Beyond Networking

Rayna AndersonRayna A. Anderson, Career Advisor at Elon University
Twitter: @Rayna_Anderson
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/RaynaA
Blog: RaynaAnderson.wordpress.com

We are currently living in the instant information age: a time when we can learn anything with the simple click of a button. But with this more accessible knowledge comes the increased expectation for everyone to actively participate in information sharing. Social media users have become reporters, commentators, and critics of the most recent advances, so it’s no wonder why more and more people are taking to their social network accounts to learn the latest news. 

Not only has technology changed with way we communicate but it has changed the future of the U.S. workforce.  So much so, that it has been estimated as many as 65 percent of grade schoolers will go on to have jobs that do not yet exist. So what better way for college students to stay abreast of industry changes than by engaging in online career conversation! How many photographers would have been better prepared had they known that cell phones would someday include quality cameras? How about social media’s impact on news stations, magazines, and even the hospitality industry?

Beyond the celebrity stalking, hometown gossip, or superficial brown-nosing, social media can greatly impact a student’s chance to kick-start their career. These outlets provide, not only access to professional contacts, but also great opportunities to establish oneself as a knowledgeable and invested professional. Additionally, companies have come to value visionaries that can help keep their businesses afloat in changing tides. Participating in Twitter chats, sharing articles via Facebook, contributing to LinkedIn group discussions, and even blogging can be great ways for students to collect and contribute to useful information.

How often do you encourage students to use social media for career/industry education?

Of Rousseau and Resumes: Helping Humanities Students Gain the Home Court Advantage

Janet R. LongJanet R. Long
Principal, Integrity Search Inc.
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch

Collaborating with and supporting humanities students may represent some of the most challenging—and rewarding—opportunities for career advisers.  Outside of applying directly to graduate programs, these students can face challenges because their paths to internships and permanent employment are often not as well defined as those for more career-specific majors.

Yet, as a longtime recruiter (and full disclosure: former English major) who has successfully placed hundreds of one-time English, philosophy, and psychology majors, I propose that the greater challenge may be an initially uncomfortable fit with traditional job-search methods. The philosophy major who has thought far more deeply about Rousseau’s writings than resume writing may not instinctively pivot to a dialogue about “branding” or self-expression through scannable keywords.  For career advisers, the real gold lies not in portraying these tactics as a necessary evil but in helping students discover how their natural strengths and inclinations can best serve them in the search process.

For starters, amid the ongoing debate about the marketability of a liberal arts education, employers say they want the critical thinking skills that are, in fact, the cornerstone of a foundation in the humanities.  In the well-publicized 2013 survey conducted for the Association of American Colleges and Universities more than 90 percent of employers agreed that “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.”

The real question is how to guide our students in applying the well-developed critical thinking muscle to navigating the job marketplace.  Without suggesting a one-size-fits-all approach, here are some places to jump in:

1. Start at the Beginning—Before talking about a student’s resume or a specific job posting, probe for the thought process behind the original selection of a major or course of study—and how that thinking has evolved.  Recruiters like this question too, even for more experienced candidates, because it helps to construct a useful narrative. The reasons are less important than the student’s/candidate’s ability to demonstrate such qualities as self-reflection and an interest in both acquiring and applying knowledge.

2. Open the Floodgates—As West Chester University Assistant Director of Career Development Amanda Mitchell astutely shares, “the key is to help these students understand the capacity of the degree they are pursuing.  Liberal arts students in very specific courses of study may underestimate the breadth of their career options.  For example, while a psychology major could pursue an advanced degree to become a counselor, he or she could also immediately apply an undergraduate degree in a variety of fields, including marketing or business.” As a recruiter, I can validate this perspective:  some of the most impressive candidates I have interviewed for early-career roles in marketing and management consulting have roots in the humanities and social sciences.

By just changing the lens through which they view their major from restrictive to expansive, our students may experience the kinds of “aha moments” that blow their job explorations wide open. You might recommend Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads by Sheila Curran and Suzanne Greenwald for a highly accessible, case-study based approach. The format will also expose your students to the kind of storytelling that will serve them well in job and internship interviews—did you know that Chief Storyteller is an actual corporate job title?!

3. Become a Translator—Help your student demystify jargon-y sounding job-search terms like “branding” and “value proposition.” Draw parallels between these phrases and verbal constructs that are more familiar to liberal arts students.  For example, finding central themes in a work of literature really isn’t all that different from identifying common threads in your student’s academic and co-curricular experience to date.

4. Compare and Contrast—While other students might find the following suggestion the ultimate in geekdom, no one aces the classic compare and contrast exercise like the humanities major.  Leveraging strengths in research, analysis, and written expression, consider encouraging your student to draft a very informal essayor even a steam-of-consciousness-like journal (the actual format is less important than the exercise)examining prospective career options.  For example, a political science major might compare and contrast opportunities in government service versus nonprofit associations and foundations.  You can guide your students to core resources such as  “What Can I Do This Major?” as a starting point, and encourage them to deepen their explorations through online publications, associations and informational conversations with alumni.

Added bonus: Should this process lead to a targeted career direction, your student will already have lots of meaty data to draw on during actual job or internship interviews. Recruiters love to probe for such qualities as sincere motivation and resourcefulness.  What better way for a student to demonstrate these attributes than by walking a recruiter or prospective employer through a thoughtful research process and key learnings about a field or specific organization?

5. Highlight Communication Skills—I may have saved the best for last.  While many humanities students take their strengths in oral and written expression for granted, employers are bemoaning the lack of these skills in the workplace.  As a recruiter, this is probably the number one complaint I hear from employers about recent graduates.

From cover letters to resumes to LinkedIn profiles and electronic portfolios, humanities students have a clear home court advantage. You can help them to recognize this and encourage them to differentiate themselves through the sheer power of the written word. In a future post, I will explore some concrete ways to help them maximize this advantage.

And here’s some really encouraging late-breaking news to share with your students—the Association of American Colleges and Universities just published a survey showing that the long-term return on investment for liberal arts majors, reflected in annual earnings, actually exceeds that for some “pre-professional’” majors.

There is so much more to say about this topic. NACE members, what practices have worked best for the humanities students you advise and support?  Your responses need not be in essay form.

The Assessment Diaries: The Mystery of the Resume Writing Assessment (Part 1)

Desalina Allen

Desalina Allen, Senior Assistant Director at NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @DesalinaAllen
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/desalina

In career services, most of us are used to facilitating workshops that teach our students or alumni skills.  The topic could be leadership, networking, career research, or social media and the job search.  Oftentimes, after these events we send out surveys to determine just how much students learned.  We ask if students feel more comfortable with the topic and understand some of the key take-a-ways. We may even throw in a satisfaction question or two.

Today,  I want you to imagine that you’re getting ready to facilitate one of those workshops and the topic is: Resume writing!  Don’t get too excited….

You know how when you start a presentation, especially one you’ve done often, you pretty immediately get a sense of how the audience will respond?  Sometimes you walk in and students are just waiting for you with that expression on their face that tells you even if Eddie Murphy were giving this presentation they might sleep through the entire thing?

Well, on this day you experience the exact opposite. Students are eager, smiling, even awake. They raise their hand when you ask for input and they actually laugh at your pathetic resume jokes (that you’ve managed to add just to keep yourself interested). You talk about clarity of format, keeping it to a page, customizing it for each position and you look around only to see heads nodding vigorously.

After the presentation you review the post event surveys. Students are giving you high marks across the board: they now understand resume basics, they feel they can apply these concepts to their own resumes, they even write comments about how great of a presenter you are.

That night, you check your e-mail and you have a very sweet request from one of the participants:  She notes that she learned a lot from the presentation but wants to come in tomorrow for a quick resume review just make sure everything is OK before she applies to a position. You reply “Sure!” thinking to yourself, “this should take only 15 minutes.”

Fast forward to tomorrow.  The student is seated in front of you.  As she reaches into her backpack to pull out her resume, your view switches to slow motion.  Suddenly, you catch a glimmer of light bouncing off of the object she’s taking out….

…..wait

…what the

….is that

….is that a staple??  

So, obviously this is a HUGE exaggeration (cue sarcastic snickers), but what went wrong here? Didn’t you talk about page length? Weren’t you clear about editing out non-relevant content? Surely you touched on including pictures. How could it be that after all of your hard work and intuition the student just didn’t get the point?  What about all of your positive survey results? Could they have misled you?

Stay tuned for part 2 of The Mystery of the Resume Writing Assessment where I’ll discuss the post-event assessment.  In the meantime…any guesses, comments, or thoughts on why this approach doesn’t always work? Leave them in the comments section below!

The Best Tip for Last Minute Interview Prep? Power Pose!

kevin grubbNACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

A student e-mails you the day of a big interview. She’s practiced and looked through her notes, studying like she should for a conversation like this. What should she focus on in the last few minutes before she goes into the room? One last look at the company website for any critical updates? A final check over her resume to make sure she has talking points for her experiences?

Maybe the answer is something else entirely. To boost her self esteem, she should spend about two minutes standing in power poses right before she goes into the room. Why? Because it will make her more confident in the interview and a more desirable candidate. That’s what one Harvard professor, Amy Cuddy, discovered in her research on body language.

In the past, scientific studies have proven that when you smile, it triggers changes in your brain and body that can actually make you happier, which then makes you smile. So, maybe Buddy the Elf really was on to something (“I like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.” – This gets me every time.). Cuddy wanted to know if the same could be said for body language. Body language changes the way others think of us, but can it also change our thoughts on ourselves?

The answer is yes. Cuddy’s research found that standing in confident, positive poses changes the chemistry in your brain, boosting hormone levels related to confidence and decreasing hormone levels related to stress. Taking it a step further, research subjects in one of Cuddy’s studies who were instructed to sit or stand in power poses, making their bodies big and wide, for two minutes prior to an interview performed significantly better in that interview than those who did the opposite. Those who did take the power poses were rated by observers as someone who would be a great hire.

Don’t just take my word for it, check out Cuddy’s TED talk. If you want to skip right to the interview study, start the video at about 10:00. The whole clip is fascinating.

So, NACE blog readers, who’s up for a round or two of power posing at the 2014 NACE conference? I’m starting my practice now.

Don’t Miss Your Chance at NACE Honors and Awards!

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University
Twitter: @MarcGoldmanNYC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/marcjgoldman

I am a big fan of awards shows on television.  For decades, I have watched the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes, People’s Choice, SAG Awards, and even the occasional Grammys or MTV Video-Music Awards.  Do they even show videos on MTV anymore?  Ah the good old days of MTV when it was hair bands, pop idols, and vee-jays!  But I digress.  When I entered the field of career counseling, I never imagined we would have our very own awards, honoring individuals, schools, and employers who developed groundbreaking and trendsetting ideas, programs, resources, and services.  Well, we do applaud these colleagues, and NACE offers its official recognition through the annual Honors and Awards process, which culminates at the national conference.

One of my bright ideas while working at the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development won a NACE Excellence Award in 2007.  The Wasserman team’s Business Boot Camp for Liberal Arts Students, sponsored by Morgan Stanley, was an exciting program to work on, and it addressed a big need at the time among NYU liberal arts majors who wanted to explore business careers.  We were presented with the award at the New York City NACE Conference (Home field advantage blah blah blah!).  It was truly a proud moment for us all.  There were some nice bonuses as well: recognition on campus by our division colleagues, another selling point to employers regarding partnering with our office, a notation of success on one’s resume for future reference, and awareness of a best practice to discuss with other career services professionals at colleges across the country.

At the most recent NACE Conference, my Yeshiva colleagues and I were finalists for an award for our Women in Business Initiative.  We actually did not expect anything more than being nominated (Hope for the best. Expect the worst!).  When we did not hear our name announced by the dapper emcee, Andrew Ceperley, we took it all in stride and applauded the victor as Jamie Belinne, University of Houston, C.T. Bauer College of Business, strode upon the stage to receive her well-deserved kudos for Career Assessment for Business Students With Diverse Multicultural Backgrounds.

Prior to the awards gathering, for the first time ever, there was an awards showcase. What a great idea, NACE! Akin to what many of us have experienced at a job fair, all of the college and employer finalists were assembled at tables to speak to other NACE Conference attendees about their nominated programs and ideas. The room was buzzing with questions, discussions, and laughter as well. To me, that event eclipsed the awards assembly to come (Maybe, if we won, I would be singing a different tune…nah!). Coming back to Yeshiva, being a finalist was fine in my book.  On our small college campus, people were thrilled with our national recognition and the NACE honor certainly brought an additional air of legitimacy to our shop both on campus and in the eyes of important external stakeholders. Winning! Did I really just do a callback to Charlie Sheen’s oddity phase? Sorry.

This year, I am thrilled to be co-chair of the Honors and Awards Committee.  It has been wonderful working with my colleague Blake Witters and NACE’s very own Cecelia Nader, along with the entire H&A Committee, to refresh the way we look at this topic and present it at the annual conference. Having Dan Black, NACE President and part-time stand-up comic, in our corner is extremely helpful as well.

I cannot encourage you enough to submit something this year. Not only is it always worth a shot, but there are benefits no matter what. Even if you simply submit and don’t get selected, the submission itself allows for self-reflection and the chance to pat yourselves on the back.  And you never know—you might end up on stage with Dan Black in front of 2,000 of your closest career services and employer friends having a grand time in San Antonio!

The January 31 deadline is rapidly approaching. To get the ball rolling, please visit the NACE website at: http://naceweb.org/about-us/awards.aspx?mainindex-recslide3-awrds-01032014.

As Ed McMahon used to say, “You could be a winner.”  Publishers Clearinghouse? Star Search? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Career Coaching Notes: Values and Visualization

Rayna Anderson

Rayna A. Anderson, Career Advisor at Elon University
Twitter: @Rayna_Anderson
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/RaynaA
Blog: RaynaAnderson.wordpress.com

According to Howard Figler’s 1-2-3 counseling method, the following three questions capture the essence of career counseling:

  1. What do you want to do?
  2. What is stopping you from doing it?
  3. What are you doing about it?

For now, I only want to look at the first of these three questions in the context of university career services. Contrary to what we do as career advisers, our students come to us looking for direct answers instead of guidance. Their question is usually, “what should I do?” when it really just depends on what it is they want to do. Furthermore, they often fail to realize that they already have the answers they need. Our job then is, not to impose our opinion, but to drive them toward honest self-actualization.

Should you find yourself grappling with a student that insists that they, “just don’t know” or who feels silly disclosing their deepest career desires, charge them with Figler’s first question. Then consider using two of my favorite methods for helping students define their career goals:

1. Values Assessment: I almost never conduct a career decision-making or assessment appointment without first having the student complete some sort of job or workplace values handout. This exercise allows students to self-select from a list of multiple choices:

  • What they are motivated by (power, recognition, money, enjoyment, etc.)
  • What they’d enjoy spending their workday doing (taking on challenges, brainstorming with others, meeting new people, coaching others, etc.)
  • And, what they want from their workplace (autonomy, supervision, structure, flexibility, etc.)

Once they have identified their desires, have them consider which they are willing to compromise on and which values are their “non-negotiables.” Now that there’s something on paper in front of them, it’s time to let their minds wander.

2. Guided Visualization: Though I don’t ask that students close their eyes or sit in any particular position, I do provide them with an opportunity to carry out an uninterrupted daydream. I prompt this exercise by having the student consider a world where anything is possible and money is of no concern. I then ask the student to imagine arriving at work, parking and getting out of their car, then walking through the front doors of their workplace.

Next, I have them describe what they see, how they feel walking in, what they are wearing, how people around them look, and what these people doing. I conclude the visualization period by telling the student that they are going into their office that day to complete a project, then asking what type of project it might be. This exercise is especially helpful for students struggling to decide between pursing a passion and choosing a less desirable but lucrative career path.

These exercises provide the student with a tangible and intangible basis for setting goals.

After the values assessment and visualization, the student has taken the first step toward choosing a major, deciding the types of jobs or internships to search for, and formulating  questions to ask during interviews. While this process is only the beginning of the career advising journey, it helps establish trust and rapport throughout your partnership.

Our offices should be safe havens; places where students can come in to un-apologetically share their secrets and leave with plans of action. Do your own research, make changes, and make these exercises your own.

Outcomes Data: Let’s Own the Opportunity Ahead

Marilyn MackesMarilyn Mackes, Executive Director
National Association of Colleges and Employers
Twitter: @NACEMarilyn
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/marilyn-mackes/8/210/a70

There is very little these days that policy makers agree on—no big news there. The BIG NEWS is that our profession has an opportunity to lead in an area that many in the public and private sectors do care about and will most certainly impact the work we do in the future.

What is it that the President and legislators in both parties agree on? The need for detailed outcomes data about college graduates and their first destinations after receiving their degrees.

In 2013 we saw a number of federal and state initiatives launched to meet the growing demand for accountability and transparency about college outcomes.

  • In February 2013 in his State of the Union Address, President Obama introduced the College Scorecard designed to provide data on affordability, value and employment potential by institution. http://collegecost.ed.gov/scorecard/
  •  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nearly 20 states have moved formally to performance-based funding for higher education institutions and the majority of states report interest in doing so.
  • Numerous efforts from both parties are being proposed by federal lawmakers to collect and report data about the value of education and the specific first destinations of college graduates.

What does this tell us? The demand for hard data is real and the expectation for data delivery is imminent. The time is NOW if our profession wishes to lead in determining how we can best collect and report data about college graduates and develop the means to do so.

In January at our Advocacy Mashup in Washington D.C., NACE will be releasing Guidelines for First Destination Surveys, developed and reviewed by NACE members. More than 150 members provided commentary and recommendations related to the formulation of these guidelines.

Those attending the Mashup will have the opportunity to discuss the scope and content of the Guidelines as well as consider how to strengthen the data collection and reporting for their institutions. They will also look at how we as a profession can come together to meet the demands being placed upon us externally for accountability and compliance. We hope you can be part of that conversation—but if you can’t, it won’t end there. We look forward to engaging our members in this discussion on an ongoing basis and encourage your participation in the future.

Let’s make sure we don’t let others pave the way for what is certain to happen. Let’s create opportunity and strengthen the role of our profession as we come together to provide high quality and timely data about the outcomes of our graduates.

For more information about the Mashup or to register, go to http://www.naceweb.org/events/advocacy-mashup.aspx.