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.

 

Challenging the Omniscient Career Adviser Role

Janet R. LongJanet R. Long
Founder, Integrity Search Inc.
Career Counselor, Widener University
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch
Blogs from Janet Long.
Sometimes life runs in parallels. As I approach month six of in-house career counseling after 20 years as a business owner and executive recruiter, I’m learning that my students are not the only ones navigating new terrain. It is helpful to hold that perspective—and sometimes to share it outright—when encouraging them to push beyond their comfort zone. This makes me less of the all-knowing adviser and more of a human being who can speak to and perhaps model getting to the other side of major life transitions.

As an executive recruiter, even starting out, I often found an automatic presumption of authority and expertise—role power, as a friend and colleague would call it. Role power allowed job candidates to disclose salary and other intimate life and career details to a virtual stranger within minutes. It also positioned me as a trusted confidante and adviser to hiring organizations, and along with that, the one expected to know.

Much earlier, growing up as the daughter of psychologists, I recall that when asking my mother what I should do in a challenging situation, she would often reply, “What do you think you should do?” While this was maddening in the moment, it prepared me to weigh choices from an early age. Her approach sent the message that I was a capable person who could start the thought process on my own.

Putting these experiences together, I’ve been reflecting on the role power inherent in career counseling, and the reflexive temptation to problem solve from a position of expertise. I’m learning to differentiate skills development (resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, networking strategies) from the leadership that comes more from listening than imparting wisdom.

As an example, I recently advised a midlife student who had just completed an associate’s degree and was torn between continuing on for her bachelor’s in either human resource management or liberal arts. Even as the counselor and huge champion of our traditional liberal arts undergraduates, the recruiter in me admittedly had concerns about short-term employability at a different life stage.

After two in-depth meetings and a series of self-assessments, it became clear that this decision was not a 50/50 proposition. While my student expressed feeling entirely capable of fulfilling the HR program requirements, she voiced much stronger feelings of apathy toward the curriculum. While we had a candid discussion about potential pros and cons, she was powerfully drawn to the liberal arts, and was willing to integrate experiential learning into her already full-time-plus schedule to weave the pieces together.

My student confirmed her decision with her academic adviser shortly thereafter, and copied me on a note that generously described my role as a supportive sounding board. This felt strange at first. Had I done her a disservice by not providing more active advice? What if her decision didn’t lead to the financial security she was also seeking?

Then the realization hit. My role was not to absolutely know what she should do, nor to provide a consultant-like recommendation with supporting bullet points. It was, in fact, to listen and to give her the space to reach her own decision, her own knowing, weighing available data with what already felt true for her.

NACE career counselors, have you confronted this distinction within your own practices and student relationships? What have you learned along the way?

 

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: Lack of Understanding the U.S. Job Search (Post 2)

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director of career services, Duke Engineering/Professional Master’s Programs
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

Greetings career professionals! I wanted to focus this post (and the next couple of posts) on common challenges I assist my international students with, and provide some strategies and ideas that you can use in your practice.  I’ve even added a couple of ideas that could be a part of your office’s employer outreach strategy.

 CHALLENGE: Lack of understanding the U.S. job search.

I see it over and over again. Students from across the globe begin their U.S. college experience thinking that the job-search process will be just like it is in their home country. Most of the time that process is something like: make great grades, study hard for the final test, and the higher your test score (and grades), the better job you get. And the employers will come to you! It is all about grades, and working toward being top of your class. There is little to no focus on networking or getting hands-on experience (though many of my Chinese students acquire a one month “internship,” which is more like an observational externship experience). Many international students have no idea about the U.S. job search, and that it is focused more on professional experience and relationships than grades.

Sharing this, and having students understand this, is your first and most difficult step. Some students will feel uncomfortable approaching or cold calling professionals to connect, thinking that it is rude or disrespectful; aligning these students with others from their home country that have successfully found careers in the United States normalizes networking…and they can get the scoop on the step-by-step of networking and how their peer or “senior” successfully did this without feeling like they were being disrespectful.

 IDEAS & RESOURCES

  • Create a book club or U.S. job-search working/accountability group for international students that meets every couple of weeks. Daniel Beaudry, has written a wonderful book about the U.S. job search for international students called “Power Ties.” He does a fantastic job of explaining the process of the U.S. job search and networking, while explaining the visa process and all of the “players” such as hiring managers, HR, etc.
  • Teach students how to connect with international alums that were able to find jobs in the United States. Most institutions have an alumni database, but did you know the LinkedIn “Find Alumni” tool is FANTASTIC for this?! I work with graduate students, and have them access the tool (LinkedIn > Network > Find Alumni), and search for alumni of their undergraduate institution (back in their home country), click on who is living in the United States, and sort by industry. Not only does this give them a list of alums they can connect with, but shows the companies and industries most likely to hire international talent. If you are working with undergraduates, have them search under popular universities in their home country (they’ll still be able to access the alums!).
  • A lot of my international students are obsessed with all the big-brand companies (e.g. Deloitte, Google, Exxon), and don’t consider smaller companies. I remind my students that pursuing a big brand company is fine, but don’t forget that a gazillion other international students will be doing the same thing. Smaller companies may have less competition and be less rigid in considering hiring international talent, and accessing hiring managers may be easier. Consider this idea which incorporates educating students and employers (here’s the employer outreach idea I mentioned earlier); do a webinar or panel with employers (that have successfully hired international talent in the past), an immigration lawyer, visa services, and international alums working in the United States to share their insights and experiences from the employer and student point of view. You could invite international students and smaller companies/employers in your area to learn more about this process (a great professional development opportunity for them, and a way to get them interested in your students).
  • Find a mentor or colleague with experience working with international students to help you. This could be someone from your school’s visa services office, international house, or counseling center. I’ve been so lucky to have incredibly smart and experienced colleagues (Carrie Hawes, Jenny Johnson, Bridget Fletcher) help me grow my skills with international students along the way – I’m so grateful to them!

In my next blog posts I’ll discuss the sponsorship process, and address all of the confusion and anxiety many international students face when networking.

What ideas do you have for helping international students better understand the U.S. job search?

Did you miss part one? Read it here, and watch for Ross Wade’s next blog in this series! Coming soon.

What Happened in Vegas…Didn’t Stay in Vegas

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

So it’s official, I’m now a NACE blogger! For those who don’t know me, I manage corporate and campus recruiting activities for MAXIMUS, a professional services firm in Reston, Virginia. I’ve also been a long-time NACE member (for nearly 15 years). After serving on the Board of Directors from 2011-2013, I will soon be the new Vice President, Employer, starting this July.

As I prepare for these new responsibilities (which you’ll be hearing about in the coming months if you follow this blog), I find myself occasionally reminiscing about my early (aka, clueless) years as a NACE member. So join me for a trip down memory lane to my first official NACE event—the 2001 Conference in Las Vegas—and how it impacted my career.

If you’re a newer member, you might not be aware that up until 2001, the NACE conference was an every-three-years event. Thankfully, the NACE leadership team had the strategic vision to change it to an annual conference (more on a couple of these leaders later).

So just how did these three-days in Vegas change the course of my career?

I established new relationships. Back then, I had just finished my first year of recruiting for Citigroup in NYC, and was busy building relationships with several new schools from which I’d never recruited. One of those schools was New York University, whose career center was headed by Trudy Steinfeld (#nyuwasserboss). To get to know her team a little better, I invited Trudy and her staff to join my team for a “refreshment break” on the first afternoon of the trip.

Obviously, we spent a good deal of our time talking about recruiting initiatives, but we also veered off to more social conversations where we immediately hit it off. That first conversation not only established a connection between my employer and NYU, but also created the beginnings of an invaluable friendship. Today, I can count on Trudy for guidance and advice (and the occasional refreshment break).

I met NACE leaders. This conference was my first exposure to the NACE leadership team. As (lady) luck would have it, I met then-NACE President, Kathy Sims from UCLA right after the opening session. She was so welcoming to me, a relatively new member of NACE. [On a side note, having served on the Board of Directors, I now know the President has a crazy conference schedule, so the time she took to get to know me is even more impressive.]

Kathy asked about my background, my goals for the conference, and when I was going to start recruiting at UCLA (naturally)! And, being a great leader that she is, she asked me if I was interested in becoming more involved with NACE. Flash forward 10 years and Kathy was one of my nominators for the Board of Directors and provided me with a ton of advice and encouragement when I decided to run for Vice President. You may be aware that Kathy has announced her retirement from UCLA, so I have many bittersweet feelings as I write this.

I experienced a range of emotions. I remember the gamut of feelings running through me from the start of the opening session all the way to the end of the conference. Nervousness because I didn’t know many other attendees. Confusion over what sessions to attend. Frustration at not being able to remember the names of everyone I met. Awe of all the learning opportunities. Appreciation for the generosity of my peers as they shared their knowledge. And that was all okay because I got so much out of the experience.

Fortunately that year, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. The networking that took place led to relationships that lasted well beyond the initial three-day conference. So whether you are attending this year’s conference for the first time (or second or third or fourth, for that matter), I hope that you will make the most of your experience. Track me down, tweet me at the conference, or just stop to say hello. If you can’t attend this year, start thinking about next year—trust me, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make!

NACE14 attendees! Register for any of five free webinars based on popular workshops at the conference.

Connecting Professionally Through the Mentor Program

maia hanronMaia Hanron, Director of Career and Personal Development, Green Mountain College
LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/maiahanronsanford
Twitter: @GMCCareers

You could say I am relatively new at the career advising world.  While I am rounding out my eighth year in higher education, I am only in my second year in career cervices, coming from the admissions department at my current institution, Green Mountain College in Vermont.

The transition has been a perfect transferability of skills and one I feel is a lifelong fit! It was this idea of putting “transferability of skills” into action, that I have started to realize many things about the career advising world—one being that you have to practice what you preach! I have never worked within a field where you are constantly encouraged to step back and focus on your own personal and professional development while encouraging others to do so. If I encourage my students to network for various reasons, then I better have a good anecdote on how it has been beneficial in my own life. It’s the same with a concept like mentoring.

The idea of mentorship, while not a new concept to me in general, was definitely a new concept to me professionally. When I heard about NACE’s mentorship program, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. My department is very small, so although I wear the title of director, I undoubtedly have much to learn.

I was inspired to be able to maintain a steady relationship with another professional who might be able to shed some light on areas I either struggle with, think about, am working to improve, or any other off-the cuff matters that come to mind. Marc Goldman, my current mentor, fits the bill!  We have been communicating for about six months on a variety of topics ranging from student engagement, to employer relations, to various resources he has found beneficial over the years. Because of his broad range of experience, I truly value his insight!  He is also very candid to speak with, so it makes the conversation flow nicely. By our 3 p.m. phone calls, I am ready for a little comic relief!

I am glad that I have put myself out there to really try to connect through a mentorship program. Not only is it humbling to interact with professionals with such broad backgrounds, but it is also empowering to see mentoring as a great way to give back to your professional community down the line. I hope someday, I will have equally helpful advice to share with new professionals in the career advising field!

Do you need a mentor? Join the Mentor Program!

Read mentor Marc Goldman’s blog about his experience.