NACE and the Power of Engagement

Dan Black

Dan Black, Americas Director of Recruiting, EY
Twitter: @DanBlack_EY
LinkedIn: Dan Black

“I’m engaged!!” I can still remember my (now) wife uttering that phrase over and over the night that I proposed to her more than 15 years ago. It was a wonderful feeling: listening to the excitement in her voice as she spoke to what seemed to be everyone she knew—and maybe even a few people she didn’t—to share the happy news. I, too, was caught up in the euphoria of the moment, recounting the story and reflecting on our joyous new relationship status and the promise of wonderful things to come. It’s an experience and a feeling that I will never forget.

As I reflect back on my year as NACE President, I’m once again finding myself in awe of the power of engagement, and the bright future that it is securing for our association. NACE Board service provides a unique purview into many aspects of the organization: the strategic planning, the tireless work of the NACE staff, and the focus on innovation, to name a few. But above all, it gave me a new appreciation for the variety of opportunities available to our members to make a real, tangible impact on our organization and the profession; the chance to be truly engaged. One of my fellow past presidents and colleagues, Andy Ceperley, describes engagement as “feeling the commitment, believing that our contributions are important, and caring deeply about advancing a cause or a body of work.” I think that’s the perfect definition, and gets to the heart of what I experienced and observed: the most engaged members were those who found ways to make their involvement personal. For some, that means serving in leadership roles on the Board, committees, or task forces. But for many others, it means contributing in ways that may seem less “official” on the surface, but are every bit as critical to the success of the association. Countless members advance our mission by hosting events, imparting valuable leading practices, delivering content, or sharing their NACE experience.

Other members reached out to me, personally, to provide input in the form of innovative suggestions, real time feedback on NACE offerings, and offers to assist with new initiatives. The creation of the new NACE Ambassador program at the end of my term provided the opportunity for members to truly customize their involvement while assisting with member outreach and inclusion. Together, these opportunities provide a powerful platform for engagement. And, it’s taught me to appreciate the fact that when individual members feel empowered to contribute in a variety of ways, the membership as a whole truly reaps the benefits.

Before I close, let me draw one last parallel. NACE engagement, like any serious personal commitment, requires a conscious and deliberate effort on behalf of the individual. I would encourage each of you to actively seek out ways to make a contribution in a way that is meaningful to you. I can tell you from experience that there are countless ways to get involved and that the rewards—much like those I’ve enjoyed ever since I said “I Do”—are immeasurable.

Four Lessons We Can Learn From Business Leaders

BlessVaiBless Vaidian, Pace University Career Services and Founder, Career Transitions Guide
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blessvaidian
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlessCareers
Blog: http://careertransitionsguide.com

1) The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder

Mark started Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. Was it risky to venture out as an entrepreneur? Yes! It’s risky to start or try anything new. Whether you are in college or a professional with years of experience, our career choices are often masked with uncertainty. Industry leaders will tell you that it’s because they were not afraid of taking risks, that they are successful today.

2) You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. – Walt Disney

A few months ago, Business Insider published an article with a list of 23 successful people who failed at first. “Learn from life’s lessons and move on” was the underlying theme in all their stories. Don’t let failure keep you down. Sometimes when we don’t get what we want, another door opens. A mistake young college students make is to think that successful people never hit a rough patch. In fact successful people hit many obstacles, but keep moving forward.

3) We’re living at a time when attention is the new currency…Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value. Participate or fade into a lonely obscurity. – Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable

Those people that are well branded and popular on social media outlets, and those with a wide circle of connections get job offers. Have your circle built so that when the time comes, your job search will be much faster than those that live in “obscurity.” The clients and students I work with that have a wide list of connections, attend events, and have a well-loved personality find jobs much faster. I work with hundreds of recruiters every year. They attend events to target candidates for open positions and to keep resumes on file for when there is a vacancy. If you are not getting out of the house and if you are not networking online, be prepared for a longer job search.

4) Technology empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential. – Steve Ballmer, Former CEO of Microsoft

When reading a job description, the skills required are clear. A college degree does not guarantee employment. But having all the skills required in a recruiter’s job posting does make you more marketable. Apply to jobs only after you acquire the skills. This way you will not waste the recruiter’s time or get discouraged when you don’t hear back from human resources. You can learn almost anything using online resources or by partnering with the right technology tools.

Turning No-Shows Into Teachable Moments

Janet R. Long

Janet R. Long
Founder, Integrity Search Inc.
Career Counselor, Widener University
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch

Do “no-shows” represent a routine annoyance for career centers, or are they teachable moments for students learning about the world of work in all its dimensions?  I’m not thinking about the student with a legitimate last-minute conflict or emergency, or a one-time memory lapse. Rather I’m referring to the students with serial career appointment amnesia.

One school of thought holds that students are just learning time and life management skills, and that we can’t hold them too accountable for a relatively minor transgression liked a missed resume review.

Besides, what would holding “no-shows” accountable really look like in practice? Denying future services? Putting them to the back of the line when they have a critical deadline like a live interview? This would seem to run counter to the very mission of helping students get to that all-important first destination (and candidly, would not help department usability numbers either). 

And yet…by not acknowledging chronic no-showism, practitioners do both their students and themselves a disservice. For students, we are providing a false sense of latitude about the greater world off campus. As a longtime recruiter, I can attest that in the absence of an extreme emergency, being MIA for a job interview is a non starter—and not likely to lead to a second chance.

For career practitioners, enabling no-shows with no consequences also sends the message that we undervalue our own time and services. I would propose that there are ways to help students unlearn poor habits without taking punitive measures that run counter to everyone’s objectives. For example, one might be to hold a (mandatory) workshop for all career center users on the consequences of no-showism in the working world. Bringing in an employer or two as a guest speaker would drive the point home that much harder.

Another might be scheduling a targeted educative workshop for the chronic no-show-ers (think The Breakfast Club without the really mean proctor) in order to retain access to account privileges such as job postings. Talking points might be framed in terms of:

 Empathy: Helping the student see the missed appointment from another’s point of view (say, a good friend who could have been seen in the time slot) or projecting how an employer might feel about being stood up.

 Self-recognition: Asking how the student would feel about being stood up by a faculty adviser, a career coach, or a friend.

 Relating to other on-campus expectations: Asking about the  consequences of missing a class or a deadline without prior communication with the professor.

The point, of course, is not to shame the student, but rather to use no-showism as an opportunity to further what we teach about professional development.

 NACE career practitioners, how does your office handle no-shows? NACE employers, what suggestions can you offer?

Find another article on no-shows on NACEWeb.

 

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).

 

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey Into Social Recruiting (Part 2)

Chris Carlson
Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

Picture it: NACE 2012, I remember sitting, listening to a panel of my counterparts and experts talking about social media and recruiting, and thinking, “Oh dear, is that right for us?” After that session there was another session and another. Panic soon ensued. I knew how to post pictures on Facebook and I had a LinkedIn page, but I have trouble keeping up with the requests on those as well as my e-mail. How are we going to handle individual engagement with college students from every campus via social media??? After several other sessions, more experts, and more articles, I was even more distressed.

After calming myself down and taking a deep breath, I realized that this is just a change. Change isn’t scary; after all, I am a Change Management Advanced Practitioner. Let’s start at the beginning: Moving into social recruiting, whether as a primary thrust of your strategy or just a component, is going to require change. With any change you need to be able to articulate a “burning platform” or a rationale for the change. Before you build a strategy and pick an approach or even figure out on which social media to be present, it is important for you to determine the “why”.   Phew, ok, I had a starting point. Then, I needed to figure out if this made sense for us.

To start building the case, it was necessary to do an environmental scan to determine the trends across our industry. I began searching the NACE website as well as other related sites to track key trends related to social recruiting and university recruiting. I began to see some interesting data related to how students were identifying positions. A recent survey by Collegerecruiter.com [Agrawal, Sanjeev, “How Companies Can Attract the Best College Talent”, March 17, 2014, Harvard Business Report] quantified that trend when it was noted that the number one source of college students finding a job was through their friends followed closely by job boards. It is becoming clear that social networks may be fueling the job search at the university level. So, I quickly realized that my first goal was to understand how to tap into that social network.

Our team has always reviewed data around majors and schools to identify any specific trends. When we started to review our own data, we quickly started to see some additional emerging trends one of which was somewhat antidotal related to on-campus activities—“where were the seniors in computer science?” We were finding freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in the Fall, but seniors were slowly dwindling. We also saw that competition for talent, overall, was on the rise which was confirmed by NACE data around on-campus activity. We had to make some assumptions based on what we were seeing. We had to assume that more companies were converting their interns and that competition was heating up, especially for technical majors. We made a concerted effort to target our on-campus activities to specific departments and were seeing results. We also knew that we had worked to brand ourselves more in the technical space and again, were seeing results. However, when we looked at projected demand and the current pipeline, it hit us. We realized that we had to strike early and often to reach a highly competitive pool of candidates and we had to cast a much wider net—four, five, or even 10 “core” schools can’t deliver the pipeline that our firm needs anymore. So, how do we sustain and scale that to reach a pipeline that will meet our needs?

We then had to look at our own team, our resources, and our service offerings. Could our “small but mighty team” engage in a new endeavor into the social recruiting world? Do we have to add 10 more schools, and then 10 more schools to build that pipeline? How could we leverage the enthusiastic employee base to our advantage without breaking the bank?

An inventory of our organization, historical demand, our budget, and our team’s competencies was the additional step necessary for us to norm around our “burning platform.”  Clearly we couldn’t replicate our winning on-campus strategy across any additional schools. We would burn out and fail to provide that personal touch that students like.

It was clear: We had to go into the social recruiting space. Our next major step would need to be focused on how to leverage social media to achieve our objectives. (I would encourage you to explore your business case before going into the social space and make sure it is the right path. Do you have a clear understanding of your demand? Make sure you understand how it can enhance your program. If you have a successful on-campus approach and are seeing the results you need, then you may not need to jump into the pool head first. You may want to wade into the water. My team will probably tell you that I more than likely bumped my head on the bottom of the pool when I dove in.)

In the next blog, I will explore how we began to execute and obtain support for our leverage of social media in our program. We are still learning and would love to connect with others to chat more about this—perhaps a networking circle or a Tweet chat. Of course, please come see me @NACE14 where I will be presenting on this topic.

“Everyone Is a Recruiter” will be presented on Tuesday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. See the #NACE14 Itinerary Builder for details.

Did you miss Christopher Carlson’s first installment on his journey into social recruiting? Read it now! Look for Part 3 on May 6!

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.

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.