The Importance of Real Life Connections in Recruiting

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

In my role at Villanova University’s Career Center, I have the altogether stressful yet enormously satisfying duty of planning our university-wide career fairs on campus.  We wrapped up our first of these earlier in September, and after all the resumes were filed Handshakes: a real life connectionand business cards exchanged, I got to thinking about why events like these are so important.  Our motto for this year’s fairs is “Real Life Connections, Real World Opportunities,” and I think that phrase says it all for me.

I mentioned in a post from the conference that I am a Millennial; part of the “tech-obsessed” and “wildly ambitious” generation that wants to wear flip-flops to work (for the record, I much prefer boat shoes to flip flops, and I’m a fan of professional dress).  I think social media is a great way to communicate, Google Hangouts are amazing and I am blown away by what we can do with virtual meetings, conferences and career fairs.  But, still, there’s nothing better to me than doing something or meeting someone in real life, or “IRL” as I’d say on Twitter.  I think this is key in recruiting, too.

Why do the “real life connections” matter?  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1.) A 2010 New York Times article, “Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much,” mentions numerous studies which demonstrate that physical touch “can lead to clear, almost immediate changes in how people think and behave.”  As we all know, how one appears and sounds are important.  But, that all-important handshake at a networking event is truly all-important.  The physical touch adds another dimension to the communication.

2.) Meeting in real life can inspire more trust between people, one Forbes columnist found in her own research.  It seems there’s something about bringing the connection to life, real life, that makes people more generous toward each other.  I remember when I had my first real “tweetup.”  In 2009, I met Shannon Kelly on Twitter.  We were both running social media accounts for our career centers, and frankly, we were trying to figure out how to make it all work.  We stayed in touch, and eventually I met her in her office at Penn Career Services in 2010.  Did it make me trust her more?  Though I wasn’t measuring that at the time, I believe it did.  It was a step in building a connection and resulting friendship that I value very much now.  Similarly, I see the excitement in students as they get the opportunity to meet with recruiters and professionals after reading about them online.

3.) Sometimes, things you wear or carry are key conversation starters.  An Inc Magazine author commented on the fact that a pink faux ostrich bag she bought has brought her several compliments and started conversations with people.  I doubt that pink faux ostrich would ever look good on me, but I can certainly say that I’ve been surprised when people have commented on my new shoes, new pants, lunch bags, etc. when I had no intention of making a statement with them.  Details like these just might not be captured virtually. There’s another benefit to meeting in person.

Technology is incredible.  Virtual meetings are great.  But, when it comes to making a connection, nothing beats real life.  What do you think, NACE blog readers?

The NACE Blog Is Ready for Takeoff; Career Services and College Recruiters – Join Us!

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

The airport runway

The runway has been cleared, bags are neatly stowed away in overheard storage areas and there’s a pack of career services and college recruiting professionals who are ready to take flight with this blog for the 2013 – 2014 year in NACE.

At the 2013 NACE conference in Orlando, I had the pleasure of writing as a featured blogger, doing my best to bring you along with me as I attended sessions and reflected on what was learned over the course of those few days.  I am happy to report that, throughout this year, I will serve as the “NACE Ambassador” as appointed by current NACE President, Dan Black (thank you, Dan), to continue that work.  As part of my duties, I will be here on this blog, writing about our profession and, at times, bringing you the inside story from NACE regarding what our committees and leadership team are doing.  My goal for this year is to help be a link between the membership and the volunteers and staff of NACE who work to move our profession forward.

In addition to my posts, there will be several other career services and college recruiting pros who will be adding their voice to this blog on a regular basis.  With specialties in assessment, social media and student marketing, I expect this group will provide valuable insight and ideas all year long.

Follow the NACE blog

In the upper right-hand side of the blog homepage, click on the “Follow” button.

I invite you to join us for this year, and the best way to stay up to date with us is to “Follow” the blog to get automatic updates when a new post pops up.  If you follow NACE on Twitter, you’ll also see the posts tweeted out as new content becomes available.  I would also encourage you to join the National Association of Colleges & Employers group on LinkedIn, where updates will also be shared.

I’m looking forward to connecting with you more, NACE members, and to all of the discussions we’ll have on this blog.  What are some things you most want to read about on the NACE blog this year?

Leveraging Social Media to Engage Students

Dan BlackA post from Dan Black, Americas Director of Recruiting, Ernst & Young LLP
2013-14 NACE President






On Thursday, August 22, I’ll be moderating a panel of employers as they discuss their digital engagement strategies at the NACE Social Media Mashup (#NACESocial).

We’ll be discussing best practices, including how to leverage social media to engage students.

At Symantec, for example, Emma Hooks and her team don’t just use social media to push content: Instead, they’ve built a lot of interactivity into their Facebook page. (The downside according to Emma: Maintaining the Facebook page in real time can be challenging.)

eBay focuses on just-in-time interactions, responding to posts 24/7/365. Jen Lamorena says eBay has very clear goals for all of its social media channels, and sees that having a “face” or “voice” behind eBay’s efforts is critical.

InternMatch provides unique content to its target audience while maintaining a voice that is true to the company’s culture and brand, explains Ashley Mosley. InternMatch also uses Google+, a tool that many employers are eager to learn more about.

And Emily Vera says Northrop Grumman strives for the “viral reach” by focusing its strategy on generating quality content that not only engages its immediate following, but prompts them to share it so it reaches an exponentially higher number of users.

Also of particular note during the Mashup will be the introduction of NACE’s Career Counselor’s Guides to Social Media in the Job Search. Written by career services professional for careers services professionals, these free resources cover LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and blogs, and will help practitioners assist their students in creating strong profiles, networking and connecting, and finding jobs and internships on these networks. (Thanks to Kevin Grubb, Villanova University; Shannon Kelly, University of Pennsylvania; and Megan Wolleben, Bucknell University, for all their work!)

I’m excited to be a part of this unique event and I’m eager to share the ways we at EY use social media to brand ourselves and attract top talent. And because of the robust group of presenters and attendees and the breadth of the programming, I know I’ll leave San Jose with a greater knowledge of how we can leverage social media to achieve our goals.

ORL to PHL: Luggage, Knowledge, and Appreciation

kevin grubbA post by NACE Guest Blogger, Kevin Grubb.
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

 Despite the tropical storm that made its way up the east coast on Friday, my plane arrived safely back in Philadelphia that afternoon.  What came with me on the flight from Orlando: luggage, knowledge, and appreciation – and I only had to check one of them at the gate, even though I’m sure the knowledge and appreciation weighed more.

In my previous two blog posts, I did my best to offer up what was learned in some of the sessions I attended at the NACE conference this year.  My goal was to bring you there, to save you a seat next to me and the power outlets.  For this last post, I wanted to step back from the sessions and talk a little bit “bigger picture” about the conference itself.  So, pull up a seat one more time and let’s talk.  (As I write this, I am picturing Linda Richman from “Coffee Talk” on Saturday Night Live.  “Placement Surveys are not ‘placement’ and not always ‘surveys’… Discuss.”)

For me, the NACE conference this year was about three things: bravery in uncertainty, solidifying relationships, and planning for randomness.

Bravery in Uncertainty

In my other two posts, covering the future of career services and first destination surveys, I tried to capture not only the content but the essence of those sessions: higher education & career services are changing.  That change of pace is rapid and is continuing to grow due to pressures from many of our constituents.  There are still unanswered questions and uncertain times ahead.  That is, admittedly, nerve-wracking and exciting all at once.

I am choosing to acknowledge both sides of that coin, and in the category of “practicing what I preach,” I am reminded of counseling students who are about to graduate and are not sure what lies ahead for them.  They know they are about to leave a whole world they created for themselves, and they’re not sure how much of it they can take with them.  They know change is coming swiftly, and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.  They take it head on.  And so must we.  At the NACE conference this year, it was clear to see the profession taking this change head on, and I look forward to seeing more of it in the months and years ahead.

Solidifying Relationships

It took place on plane rides, in hotel restaurants, on ottomans in the lobby, at coffee shops – everywhere there were conversations with great people.  If we’re talking MBTI types, I am almost completely an “E” for extravert (pause for stunned response), and so a conference center full of people is energizing for me.  Besides the opportunity to learn in the sessions, the greatest benefit of attending the NACE conference is the opportunity to build relationships with people.  I enjoyed the chance to connect with both career services and recruiting colleagues, new and old.  I remember at last year’s conference, a veteran in the field told me that she’s met not only great colleagues but great friends in this field.  I see why.

For me, the connections weren’t always made in the most “buttoned up” situations.  Some of the most memorable connections I made were over the following: a somewhat problematic yet hilarious story about leaky hotel rooms, the best mobile apps to help you stay in shape, whether you’d consider yourself an appetizer or dessert person (dessert all the way), and more.  By allowing ourselves to get a little more personal, we deepened the relationship.  Building trust and bonding over even silly things can translate to better business and working together.  While of course it’s important to keep things appropriate, I try to keep the personal side in mind throughout the year.  We’re professionals, yes. We have a job to do, absolutely.  But, we’re people, too.

Planning for Randomness

Back to the MBTI talk for a second, I am also quite strongly a “J” for judging.  Not to be mistaken for judgmental, the “J” translates to someone who likes structure and to make decisions.  In fact, my first guest post for the NACE blog was on how I was preparing for the conference.  So, planning ahead is a part of me, and I say this with admiration and respect for all of my “P” for perceiving friends (those who are often described as spontaneous or more flexible).

One thing I should have mentioned in that post is to make plans, but also to allow for something in the moment to change your course.  You just never know whom you’ll bump into at the conference or when a lunch conversation turns into a best practice discussion session.  I’ve heard it said and said it myself: some of the best moments of a conference are those that occur between sessions.  Perhaps there’s a professional lesson nestled in there, too.  Some days, plan for randomness.  Have lunch with someone and don’t fill the agenda.  Have a meeting with yourself and let it be your creative time.  Take a different turn or two in a walk around your building or campus.  That’s at least some of how I’m interpreting it.  Making room for chance.

And so, with empty bags, a retired out of office email auto response, and much gratitude, I say thank you to everyone who organized the NACE conference this year and everyone who was a part of it.  This includes you, blog readers.  Here’s to San Antonio in 2014!

Career Services Competencies, Predictions for the Future, and Hugs

kevin grubbA post by NACE Guest Blogger, Kevin Grubb.
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

 If I had to sum it up what happened today at the NACE conference for me in as little words as possible, there you’d have it.  Let me cut right to the chase and tell you some of what I have learned today in my sessions, mixed in with some commentary on my part.

Career Services Competencies

This morning, members of a NACE task force on career services competencies, Laura Melius and Sam Ratcliffe, debuted the association’s career services competencies.  What a cohesive, thorough document.  It describes, from basic to intermediate to advanced, the skill set needed to be successful in career services.  There’s no way I could possibly explain it all in a blog post, so let me tell you where to find it right now: on your mobile device, download the NACE conference app.  From the home screen, click on “More” in the bottom right corner.  Then, click on “Resources,” and then click on “Career Services Competencies.”  There you’ll have it!  NACE will also be releasing this on their website soon.

What I definitely can share with you is all of the ways our group thought the competencies would be helpful in our everyday practices.  Here’s just a little bit of what we brainstormed:

The competencies can help us…

  • With the performance management process and staff development, using the competencies as a benchmark to start from
  • Create and change job descriptions of positions within offices to match what is needed at a college or university
  • Demonstrate where staff or the office needs to get resources, to improve budgets for professional development and staffing
  • Show senior leadership at our institutions what we do and what we need to do
  • In the recruiting process for our offices: we can assess candidates’ competencies in interviews

And where do we see the competencies going from here?  Sam made it clear that this is a “living document” – one that we should consider for revision and review regularly.  As our jobs and the career services landscape continues to evolve, so should the competencies.  There will be a feedback form on the NACE website with the document for us all to add our voices.  In addition, NACE plans to build a continuum of learning & resources based on this competency guide.  There is talk of creating a certification program based on the competencies, though that will take time to properly develop.  After looking at the document myself, I am excited to see where this could lead us.  Take a look!

The Future of Career Services

One of my afternoon sessions was this one, led by Tom Devlin, Tom Halasz, and Marilyn Mackes.  I’ll start off by saying – this was packed!  Here’s a quick shot of the room which does not do it justice (I tried):

Tom, Tom & Marilyn put together a thought-provoking, conversation-starting, and funny presentation.  Smart & funny is a combination I think of like cookies & milk – they are good alone, and even better together.  Each of these three had that mix of both.

The presentation centered around three major points, and I’ll the cliff notes version here to help you get a flavor of it.  Would love to hear your thoughts on the future of career services, too, so please share in a comment!

The higher education landscape is dramatically changing.  Colleges & universities have limited resources and revenue.  The growth period for high school graduates is officially over, and will be in a decline for the next 10-20 years.  MOOCs, social media, and other technologies are shifting how work gets done and the expectations of students.  On top of that, there are several initiatives at the state and federal level that seek to define the outcomes or “ROI” of higher education.

Sounds pretty grim, yes?  I almost hid under my chair (…kidding).  In challenge, lies opportunity, and that’s there we, career services, come in.  Cue emphatic and uplifting trumpet sounds.

Now, we have the opportunity to define ourselves as campus-wide career services leaders, partnering with faculty who may need us more than ever.  For many, we may want to consider focusing on more than just the first-year experience, but consider the sophomore experience.  How are we providing support to students at a critical time in their academic lives – when many choosing or honing in on majors and some of the tough decisions?

Where could this all be going?  Tom Devlin provided some of his thoughts going forward, which included: online appointment scheduling with an interactive and customized response to the appointment scheduler’s needs.  So, when a student consider pre-med enters that in to their appointment notes for the counselor, a sort of “road map” for exploring pre-med options appears and suggests ideas for the student.  Tom suggests we may be focusing as much or more on internships as we are right now on post-graduate opportunities.  They are becoming the “first job” for everyone.  Perhaps we will develop better relationships with third-party providers who can help us perform some tasks we need to complete, but are not as high on our list of priorities.

What I thought was most interesting about this session was that Tom, Tom, and Marilyn opened up the floor to hear our thoughts and “predictions” for the future.  I’ll share mine and hope that it allows you to share yours on this blog in a comment.

One of my specialties is definitely social media.  Yes, I am a millennial, but no, I don’t spend all day on it – I promise.  Anyway, I teach a 1 credit class I created at Villanova on how students can use social media in their job searches.  What I am noticing from that, when I reflect on the bigger picture of a lot of their questions and concerns, is this.  We need to help students jump this psychological hurdle of looking at themselves as students to begin considering themselves as professionals.  With social media, the “personal” and “professional” world collide, and it happens for students faster and sooner than ever before.  Whereas one funny, perhaps not most impressing moment was private before, now it might be public and online for unknown others to view via social media.  If we can help students understand themselves, their skills, and their experiences as professional and valuable, they are much more likely to feel proud and confident talking about all of this online.  Then, they attract others with similar professional interests to them, and thus become better networked and viewed more favorably by those in seats of recruiting.

At the end of the first full day at the conference, the only other big reflection I have is that today there was so much hugging.  Hugs and warm greetings around every corner I turned, and I am actually not exaggerating.  So, if I can send you one non career services or recruiting related item from Orlando, it’s a hug from everyone at the NACE conference.

How I’m Getting Ready for NACE 2013

kevin grubbA post by NACE Guest Blogger, Kevin Grubb.
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

 

It’s officially Spring in Pennsylvania. I can tell because of the things you’d expect to notice in Spring: the sun is shining, the trees are blooming, and it’s still light outside even when I’m eating dinner.  But, I can also tell because all over campus at Villanova, backpacks are overflowing, notes are being taken at furious pace, and laptops are needing charge at all hours of the day.  I’ve been there myself, and I’d know this look anywhere: it’s finals season, for sure.

As I start to think ahead to a quieter campus after the academic year concludes, I can’t help but get excited about one of the high points of summer: the NACE 2013 conference.  I’ve been fortunate to attend the NACE conference twice since my start in the field of career services, and I’m looking forward to making the third time the charm.

It’s an honor to be a guest blogger for the NACE conference this year, and I solemnly swear to do my best to provide valuable tips, notes, and ideas I learn in my posts.  In the spirit of that, I thought I’d kick things off by sharing some of the ways I’m preparing myself for the trip this year.  To start, I offer you NACE’s conference website (pictured below), which is full of info to help you get moving.

The NACE 2013 Conference home page

The NACE 2013 Conference home page

And here are some of my specific to dos (some completed, some yet to be done):

  • Tweeted that I’ll be attending the conference and used #NACE13 to see who else might be going in my network (and to see who I might meet in person!)
  • I already looked the conference schedule of events to make sure I booked my flights accordingly, but I’m looking again now to familiarize myself with everything
  • Read up on the keynote speakers – after watching his video, I am particularly excited for Jeremy Gutsche, but to be honest they all look interesting
  • Begin to determine who I’d like to visit in the Exhibitors area at the conference.  I’ve gotten to meet some people I’ve only spoken with on the phone and learn about some really useful products at the NACE conference.  But, just like I tell students about career fairs, it’s important to have an idea of who I really want to see so I don’t get overwhelmed in the room.
  • Review the list of conference Workshops and pick some of my favorites, specifically the “must haves.”  Sometimes, I pick workshops because they are directly related to my role or work in the office, and sometimes I pick one or two because they will stretch me professionally.  At the conference, I like to have a mix of being both a conversation contributor and an observer in awe.  Picking the right workshops is a strategic move for me.
  • Look up something fun to do in Orlando!  I always have fun while I’m at the conference, and looking up some evening activities will make it even more enjoyable.  It’s not quite a “vacation,” but maybe something in between.  A “vayconference” perhaps?

So, that’s where I’ve started.  How are you preparing for NACE 13?  I’d be interested to hear your tips, too.