Data Collection Toward a 100 Percent Knowledge Rate

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

Is a 100 percent knowledge rate possible with a first-destination survey? That’s to be determined each year and with each effort. Due-diligence requires universities to extend maximum effort to try to achieve a 100 percent knowledge rate for all our students. The task of collecting and reporting data is a huge undertaking trusted to many career offices. Whether you are trying to meet the NACE deadline for data collection or your own office deadline, creating a systematic approach and incorporating “best practices” into your labor makes capturing career outcomes more manageable.

Lay the Foundation

Its essential to be able to analyze data with ease, as well as know ahead of time what questions to include in your outreach attempts to students. Follow the suggestions outlined by NACE in your database fields and match it to your first destination surveys. Bring in your school’s technology department to help create the database, as well as the electronic surveys that capture the responses fed into it. Once that’s done, a time line for when, where, and how you will collect data can be drawn out. Cap and Gown surveys, employer surveys, surveys to the campus community, classroom visits, social media searches, follow-up student surveys, calls and e-mails have to be systematically laid out on a timeline. Learn assessment best practices by attending conferences and events to know how others are capturing information. Make sure you use the NACE links on the topic and talk to Ed Koc, NACE’s Director of Research, Public Policy, and Legislative Affairs or his great team if you have questions. Koc is offering a webinar on the first-destination initiative in early January for NACE members. A solid foundation and plan of action will serve you well in the long run.

Designate a Point Person

If the college community knows that career outcome information has to be sent to a designated individual within their school, then more outcomes can be captured. Often university staff members possess career outcome information and never pass it onto career services. The human resources and admissions departments within your school may have first-destination information on numerous students who were hired or went onto graduate school at your institution. The designated point person should monitor the first destination survey numbers, solicit information from university sources consistently, and create a strategy for follow-up with graduates. It takes many people, numerous efforts, and even call-centers to capture data for bigger schools. But designate an expert to manage the whole process, set the timeline, and be the “face” of the initiative in order to drive the results.

It’s Not a Career Services Issue, It’s a University Issue

Helping students find opportunities and creating a path for successful outcomes is not just a career services goal. Higher education is a partnership of many units working collaboratively to ensure retention and capture every student’s career outcome. Long before first-destination surveys go out, building relationships with the campus community is where data collection really starts for career services. Meetings with the university community to build bridges, foster relationships, and outline the process is crucial. Students share career outcome information with professors, academic advisers, financial aid representatives, leaders of student organizations, and college staff. These sources become vital in the collection process and have to be included in the journey.

Keep the Community Vested

It is essential to make survey efforts and progress visible to the campus community. Every dean, faculty member, and university staff  member should know what the career office does. Career outcome and knowledge rate information should be displayed in infographics, charts, and reports on a regular basis with college partners. If others understand what goes on behind the scenes and where the numbers are, then they will be more apt to assist with first-destination information. It also keeps departments interested and looking forward to the next update.

Mandate Attendance 

Universities that promote, encourage, or even mandate attendance at career service events and one-to-one meetings with a career counselor can create more successful outcomes. Students that have worked with career offices feel more comfortable sharing career outcomes, and should be told that post-graduate follow-up will take place after graduation. Career services also helps students find pre-professional experience through internships that build resumes and lead to full-time offers. They offer networking opportunities with employers and alumni that have job leads every semester. Increased student engagement with career centers increases the “knowledge rate,” and also increases “outcomes.” Its a simple formula.

Multiple out-reach efforts to capture information throughout the year are made to graduating seniors, college partners, and employers to track career outcomes. I would love to hear your school’s best practices and ideas to reach that “100 percent knowledge rate.” Wishing each of you success in reaching your university’s goal and capturing outcomes. 

Resume Ramblings: The Objective

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University

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

Throughout my 20-year career in this business, I have reviewed more than my share of student and alumni resumes.  At the beginning of my career, an objective statement was a fairly common element on resumes and one suggested by many career counselors.  Over the past two decades, I have heard great debate over this brief introductory statement.  And today, it is viewed by some as the appendix (non-vital organ reference) of the resume.  Some counselors and employers opine that it should never be included.  Others say it can still be helpful to the job seeker to kick off their application document.  And of course, the more astute professionals (or fellow alumni of my Psych 101 course at Cornell), will put forth, “It depends.”

Here at Yeshiva University, my team has volleyed this bouncing ball of confusion back and forth many times.  We decided to take it to the street, so to speak, and survey some of our partner employers to solve this elusive mystery once and for all.  What did we learn from this quickie survey of a small sampling of employers?

  • 43 percent responded that they are fine with an objective that is a one-line statement of the targeted goal of the resume
  • 11 percent responded that they are fine with an objective that is a longer statement including specific candidate qualifications
  • 18 percent responded that they are fine with an objective that is more of a detailed summary of the resume
  • 27 percent responded that they did not want to see an objective on a resume at all

Basically, we noted a diversity of opinions in our survey results, which mirror the myriad views on the subject I have encountered over time.  Where do I stand at this point in my career?  No more stalling, Goldman.  Fess up and proclaim to the World Wide Web your thoughts on the objective.  Here goes nothing…

The objective is – wait for it – OPTIONAL.  I have always believed that and still do to this day.  There are situations when it can be helpful and effective for an applicant, and there are times when it is useless and pure fluff.  Here are a few points related to my philosophy on this “important” topic:

1)      An objective can provide a resume with direction when it might not otherwise have a clear one.

2)      An objective can note the target of a career transition when the resume content only details transferable skills from indirectly related experience.

3)      An objective can help the student with extremely limited experience demonstrate a goal in mind to prospective employers.

4)      An objective can provide the introduction you need when a contact is passing along your resume as a referral to another contact and so on and so on.  Did I just date myself with this obscure shampoo commercial reference?

5)      An objective is unnecessary when there is a strong clear theme to one’s resume.

6)      An objective is unnecessary when you are sending a cover letter in which you discuss your intentions as an applicant.  (Alas, the devil’s advocate in me voices the opinion that many employers don’t read the cover letter, so maybe an objective is still needed.  Ah, the cover letter.  A tale for another blog entry!)

7)      IF an objective is used on the resume, please be specific.  I actually saw one recently that I shall paraphrase as the following, “Looking for a position in the working field.”  Okay, that’s a bit extreme, but you get my meaning.

What does all of this signify in the greater job search scheme of things?  Will the objective or absence of one make or break one’s shot at that dream opportunity?  All I can tell you is that the objective is something quite subjective.