This is my first post for the NACE blog, and I’m going to use this opportunity to share a secret: I’m not in career services. I’m not even in recruiting or career counseling or talent management or any of those areas to which most NACE members belong. Rather, I’m in academic affairs and oversee a center that houses several different offices, one of which is career services.
So why am I here?
To show that one doesn’t have to be in career services to help students identify, work toward, and achieve their professional goals. In fact, career services professionals should be but just a few nodes in a student’s emerging professional network, and it is all of our responsibilities – administrators, faculty, and staff alike – to ensure that our students are prepared for life beyond college.
So how do you get others to recognize that they, too, share this responsibility?
- Educate the university community – particularly faculty and staff – on policy, procedure, and resources. Tell them about your online job posting board. Inform them of recruiting practices. Make sure they know about legal issues in letter writing. And do all of this in a way that makes this information relevant to them. You need to be audience-centric instead of career services-centric.
- Recruit key allies from among administration, faculty, and students. Your allies might be deans, faculty chairs, or student leaders, but they’re the ones who take an interest in what you do and care deeply about your students. Take them to lunch, keep them updated, befriend them, and you’ll find you not only have allies, but missionaries.
- Make your work visible. Ask if you can present at a forum, assembly, or faculty meeting. Go to staff meetings. Organize your own presentation. In addition to sending out a general invitation, specifically invite key people. And, make sure to send your presentation around afterwards. Taking initiative to make your work public will create a sense of transparency and accessibility.
- Leverage existing relationships from around the university. Are you regularly talking to your alumni office, your community engagement office, your pre-health advisers, or your entrepreneurship instructors? Career services is not the only office on campus with connections to potential employers. Find out who else has resources and pow-wow to figure out how you can better share them.
- Share results and data. Data such as first destination results, internship, and recruiting information is fine – that bird’s-eye view is for your supervisor, senior leadership, and marketing. But building relationships around the university is going to require that you make your data relevant to your audience. Consider crafting audience-specific results: pull together outcomes for certain majors or student groups, and include information like employing organizations and job titles.
- Follow up. Let people know how their efforts and connections panned out. It can be a full-time job, but following up and deeper communication can pay off in dividends.
Through careful communication, relationship building, and education, you will find that what you are really doing is cultivating partnerships and creating a culture of professional awareness and development around campus. And in doing so, you’ll be sending the message that we are all career services.