The Sum of Our Experiences: The Value of Hiring Military Spouses

by Andrea M. Wynne

Whenever most people see someone in uniform with their families or find out that a friend or colleague is married to a service member, the common response is: “Thank you for your service or please thank your spouse.” However, when reviewing resumes and screening for talent, gratitude may not be what comes to mind for many employers. Although there are more partnerships today to assist with this need and a greater understanding of the military lifestyle, there is still a significant amount of work to be done.

As a person who has been a military spouse for more than 20 years, I have personally felt the angst and anxiety of applying for jobs in fear of being dismissed because of frequent moves. The locations for each job, the organizations in which we volunteer and even the universities we attend can often be a dead giveaway about why there are gaps in employment and job changes. Although hiring managers should screen resumes objectively, some will see gaps and moves in a negative way. It is my opinion, that these assumptions unfairly label military spouses and do not take into account that anyone can move at any time and employee loyalty is not what it used to be. In fact, according to research by LinkedIn.com, the Millennial Generation will move jobs up to four times within their first decade out of college. Therefore, even if an employee has no affiliation with the military, they may leave an organization after a very short time.

Additionally, I have had colleagues who are military spouses say that they were passed over for promotions and told that they could not take advantage of professional development courses because employers were more focused on their marital status than on their talents and strengths. Yes, there are laws against blatant discrimination, but what about the conversations and biases that are unseen or are only spoken about behind closed doors? As with most things, the only way to combat such biases is to raise awareness and stereotypes that create the stigma.

In addition to a degree (I have a B.A. in human resources and an M.A. in education), military spouses bring valuable additional skills and experience to an employer’s work force. Below are three reasons why military spouses add value to an organization whether they are employees for two years or 20:

  1. Life Experiences: When a person has traveled domestically or internationally, it often means they have varied experiences that help them connect to others. They have, most likely, met different and diverse people, learned new cultures, and maybe even new languages. If customer service or connection in any form is required in a position, imagine the value that someone who has seen three countries and lived in four states can add.
  2. Flexibility: Remember the three countries and four states? Well, most military families also have to jump through many hoops to get things done for every single move. Furthermore, there is often a great deal of uncertainty surrounding deployments, temporary duty, and even day-to-day schedules of their loved ones. After a lifetime of “hurry up and wait,” military spouses grow to be quite the flexible and understanding group.
  3. Strategic Thinkers: Moving an entire household, finding new schools, doctors, vets, and hairdressers every few years in new states and countries can be quite the challenging task. Military spouses have to draw on their strategic thinking skills to figure out how to keep the family going and how to create a new home in a place they have never been. After a few moves, they begin to find patterns and gaps not only in the services they seek out, but in organizations in which they work. A person who has diversity of thought could be just the innovator a company needs to help them grow and excel.

The overarching message here is not to say that military spouses are better or more skilled than anyone else or that anyone owes us a job. The key take away is that when trying to find that perfect cultural fit or fresh face to help an organization with its mission, the practice of automatically assuming that being married to the military means money lost, is an opportunity lost.

Andrea WynnAndrea M. Wynne, Career Development Specialist and Global Career Development Facilitator, The University of Washington – Tacoma
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreawynnemaed/

 

 

Making Technology Decisions

by Kelli Smith

I love my job. I mean, I genuinely love my job. Knowing our area is making a positive impact on our students every single day is incredibly rewarding. I especially love the constant change we have in our department and the significant growth we have had in our programs and staff. I see it as a challenge and relish in it.

But it is no secret to my staff and close colleagues that my least favorite part of being a director is vendor solicitations. There are emails from vendors every single day. A mentor and former director of mine, Dr. Larry Routh, once said that he thought an essential skill needed for directors in the future is vendor management. He was correct; it is an important part of the job. Some really enjoy this part of our work, and there is no shortage of very interesting products to research and keep a person busy. It is just that I have a zillion other things competing for my attention.

We all need to be astute at deciding on new products and technologies. For me, the following are some of the questions I ask myself when deciding upon new products:

  1. Is this a wise use of budget dollars and really needed? It is important to consider departmental goals and align spending accordingly. Additionally, I have a particular sense of fiduciary responsibility working for a public institution. While none of my operating budget is from state dollars, we do get some student fee money and salaries are supported through the state. Always in the back of my mind is whether my budget choices and use of staff time are ones that stakeholders would generally support. I also look at the ROI. For example, for one product that we are considering to help offload the number of resumes we review in person, I calculated the cost for paying peer assistants (students) to the quoted product cost for the same amount of work. It was roughly the same, if not less expensive to students giving individualized assistance, plus we know the value of providing students with meaningful experience is great. The return on investment for the new product was weak in comparison, but gives me a strong negotiating point with the vendor.
  2. What FTE support will be needed to implement and manage it? While not operating budget dollars, I tend to automatically calculate the FTE time required to manage a new offering. Staff time is precious and scarce. Spending time on implementing a new technology, as well as ongoing staff training and support, takes away from a different priority. So the time it will take for staff and how it fits into our strategic plan is something I tend to automatically weigh early.
  3. Have we sought input from our students, employers, and campus partners, and does it meet our needs? While I truly love the dialogue around disruption and change in our field, my own approach to big technical changes considers many factors, including thoughtful consideration of stakeholders and whether the product meets the needs of campus. We recently explored a new platform for our job and internship posting system. A major consideration is that we manage one of the largest academic internship programs out of a career center in the country, and the program manager created a paperless system for it last year. Along with that program and some other factors, we decided at the time the vendor was not quite ready for us. We also had to consider stakeholders beyond our own program needs. Student input is a major factor for us. It is not the only one but, for us, it weighs a bit more heavily than others. We are fortunate to have a team of 50 student staff that help give us input and we rely upon it pretty heavily for new products. When a new technology also involves our employers, we naturally seek their input, too. And like so many institutions, we have taken the campus-wide approach that “career services is everyone’s business”; as a result, some of our technologies for which we are primary managers have become intertwined with other offices and career centers on campus. We have made collaboration a top priority, so seeking and respecting their input on new technology is also key, now more than ever.
  4. Does this duplicate technology we already have, and if so, is it better? We know we can be really good at adding new tools, especially if it is a hot new product offering. It is important to do an environmental scan of both one’s office and other offerings on campus. For instance, we recently explored software to better connect our students with alumni for mentoring. A different office on campus serving our largest college (liberal arts) already had a contract with a vendor, but we were interested in a newer one that we thought could be better and much less costly. We worked with that office to explore the new product with us, and they fortunately agreed it was a better option for all and that we would eventually be the primary administrator (and they would manage a module just for their college) for the product since we serve all students on campus. In addition to saving money for the campus, our relationship with that office was strengthened.
  5. Is this the right timing? When hired nearly three years ago, I was charged with completely reinventing how we served students, our campus reputation, partnerships, and significantly strengthen our employer services. While I am very fortunate to have an incredibly dedicated and hard-working staff and campus leadership that helped in our successful transformation, leading a culture change takes time. There is a new vendor on the market with great product but I am so glad we did not choose to implement a couple years ago. This is because while that business has been crazy successful, I know several early adopter directors shared they were on the phone with the vendor almost daily with issues in that company’s first year. Back then, I did not have that time while trying to build an office and campus culture. We had also recently switched to a new system that we branded and were so successful in implementing that our b-school career office finally decided to forgo a separate portal and instead let us manage the platform, making it much easier for both our students and employers. So to switch again so quickly would not have been a wise move on our part. We are now in a significantly better place and were much better positioned to make a change.
  6. What is the business model and approach of the vendor? The business model is an important consideration for me. This may be a hangover from surviving the dot-era which many of us recall. Companies with visions that seem to be in it for the long haul get bonus points. Naturally we need to do all we can to also ensure the use of student data is adhering to all applicable laws. Another thing that I have learned in the last year is how much I value the transparency of businesses. There are some well-known vendors on the market that do not have a standard pricing model and are, in part, pricing their product according to (what they think) is the name recognition of the career center’s institution. I do not blame career centers that have benefitted from such a pricing model in the least; I would fully take advantage myself. But I find it surprising that vendors do not realize we are a highly connected field and talk about what we are each paying for contracts. When I realize that a vendor is not being upfront or is quoting us a significantly higher price than my friends at other institutions – whether they have better name recognition or not, larger or smaller, or of the same or differing rankings – it is does sit well. For example, a peer here in New York was recently quoted a price of $25,000 for a product we are really wanting to implement. In my view it could be a game changer. But I also know a colleague at a well-known, larger, and fairly elite public school is paying exactly half of that cost for the same product. It ends up feeling as some centers are subsidizing what other career centers (often with already healthy budgets) are being asked to pay. So while not always a primary factor, transparency is one I consider. Lastly, with regard to approach, customer service is a critical consideration. We recently made a major decision this month and this was a factor that became a tipping point. Remember the concern we had about how our academic internship program would be managed? It was addressed by the vendor without us even being a committed client. The vendor we are moving to responded the same day in multiple instances when we had questions of any kind, and made improvements to their products based on our input with what felt like a quick turnaround.
  7. What is the “why”? I am a fan of Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011). If you have not read it or watched his Ted Talk, you may want to. It resonates with me when I am needing to gain support for new initiatives with others across campus. But I also know it is important to consider the “why” for a new technology. My hope is that when making such choice we have addressed the considerations mentioned earlier, such as whether it fits with our strategic plan, and not that we are merely trying to be seen as a “disruptor” or other similar motivation. While I am one that thrives on change and being cutting edge for the sake of our students – and I most certainly do hope we are seen as a positive change agent by our campus – I am also at times just fine with others being the canary in the coal mine with new technologies. One can benefit from the lessons learned from others, and it thoughtful, careful decision-making does not need to be at the expense of being cutting edge.

Wise choices with technology can be game changers for how we serve students better and more efficiently. Our profession is full of some of the most innovative people I know and, while needing to remember my campus context may different, I regularly lean on many for input when making vendor decisions. What other factors do you consider when making such choices?

Kelli Smith Director of University Career Services at the Fleish

Kelli K. Smith, Director of University Career Services, Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development, Binghamton University
Twitter: https://twitter.com/drkelliksmith
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kellikapustkasmith/
More blogs by Kelli Smith

Prepare Now for Your Summer Interns

by Mark Broadfoot

Summer interns will be arriving next month, so now is the time to get ready. The time will pass quickly and putting off preparations will keep you from having a great summer. You worked hard in the fall and spring to recruit the “right talent” for the company, so put in the same effort for the internship. One of the biggest complaints heard from interns is companies were not ready for their arrival. The interns show up and the company forgot about their arrival or was scrambling to get things ready. Interns know when companies are prepared. You need to make a solid first impression on your interns. If you are looking to hire some of them at the end, then day one must be strong. Below are some ideas to help you get ready.

Manager Training

    • Encourage your managers to get things ready now.
    • Advise them on how productive this age group can be for them.
    • Formulate a weekly work schedule that will challenge the intern all summer.
    • Communicate to your managers the importance of calling the interns weeks before arrival.

On-Boarding

    • Communicate to the interns the important documents to bring on day one.
    • Categorize items needed to be done on day one. Do not look disorganized as a company.
    • Formulate a day one arrival procedure.
    • Summarize your company’s dress before arrival, allowing time to buy needed clothes.

Orientation

    • Construct a day-one orientation that highlights company culture and values.
    • Organize first-day activities that encourage communication among all interns.
    • Facilitate an overview of company’s communication technology, including Outlook and SMS.
    • Develop an organized meet-and-greet process among managers, with introductions and titles.

Summer Events

    • Arrange all summer activities now with a balanced schedule.
    • Purchase all tickets and make reservations now. Try to keep costs low for students.
    • Determine which managers will attend events and put it on their calendars.

Summer Projects

    • Develop the group projects with run-through prior to interns’ arrival.
    • Organize materials and advise intern managers of time commitments.
    • Evaluate presentation procedures for summers end and provide it to all teams.
    • Persuade interns to brush up on PowerPoint, offering classes or web training if needed.

Summer Wrap-up

    • Develop a summer sendoff process, highlighting learnings.
    • Conduct a resume writing course to teach how to add their new acquired skills.
    • Execute a strong off-boarding process, make the last impression memorable.
    • Spearhead a survey for interns to evaluate the company, managers, and internship.

Students talk. Make sure what they say about your company is positive. This will help with your recruiting in the fall.

Mark Broadfoot
Mark Broadfoot, owner and consultant, UR Consulting, Missouri City, Texas
Twitter: @URRecruitee1
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/markbroadfoot

Are Career Fairs Still Worth It?

by Kara Brown

Recently, the NACE Community has been discussing the value of career fairs and the issues surrounding student attendance. Kara Brown, associate director of Career Development at Gwynedd Mercy University had some answers to share.

One of the challenges that career centers have been facing is the lack of attendance at career fairs. Most of us are able to engage employers to attend, and coordinate a great event; however, when student attendance is low we are left feeling disappointed, and scratching our heads as to why students are not showing up. Similar to many other colleges and universities, we [at Gwynedd Mercy University] have planned career fairs that lacked attendance, and we kept asking ourselves, is it worth the time and effort? I would like to believe that the answer is still yes.

Every year our career development center hosts a Nursing and Healthcare Job Fair, and over the past three years attendance has waned. This year, as an office, we decided that we needed to make some changes to see if it would increase student engagement.

First, we changed the timing. Before this year, we had always hosted this specific career fair in the fall, and this year we decided to host the event in the spring. The thinking behind this was that graduating seniors may be more inclined to attend because graduation is right around the corner, and those who were not graduating may be interested in looking into summer positions.

In addition to changing the time in regards to the semester, we asked for nursing faculty feedback on which days and times would best serve the nursing and healthcare students.

Another change that we made was the location. In previous years, the fair was hosted in our version of the student center, but this time we decided to go to the students. So we hosted the event in the nursing and healthcare building on the first and second floor lobbies. This created a situation where students who were walking to class passed the great employers who were in attendance. Then these students would come to the event after class.

While time and location served as important factors, the most significant factor was the level of engagement. My colleague and I advertised the event through multiple e-mail blasts, social media ads, flyers, and through word of mouth. We also invited other local schools to attend to increase attendance and allow employers to see more students. Inviting other schools also opened up opportunities for career centers to build relationships with other schools.

Additionally, we asked some of the nursing faculty if we could present resume/professionalism workshops to their classes, and through these presentations we were able to speak to the importance of attending career fairs. The nursing and healthcare faculty members were excellent partners during this event because they also attended the event to speak to employers, and some faculty who were holding classes during that time allowed their classes to attend the event.

Also, we invited students from other majors to attend because some employers were offering internships in human resources, marketing, and healthcare administration.

Another step of engagement that was important was the one-on-one engagement of students through career counseling sessions, and encouraging them to attend the fair. Our career sessions were booked with resume reviews to prepare for the fair.

Finally, our partnership with our alumni office was very helpful because they relayed information about the fair to all alumni through a newsletter and e-mailed alumni who graduated within the last two years.

After the event, my colleagues and I continued to follow-up with students who attended the fair to get feedback, and encourage continued engagement with the employers they spoke to about job and internship opportunities. Through the combination of all of these factors, this career fair was very successful in regards to student attendance, and the employers were very happy as well. Our office is looking forward to using similar methods for additional career fairs that we host.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at brown.kara@gmercyu.edu.

Kara BrownKara Brown, Associate Director of Career Development, Gwynedd Mercy University
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brownkara
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gmercyucareers

Your Application Does Not Go into a Black Hole – 5 Misconceptions of Campus Hiring

by Kelly D. Scott

As a campus recruiter, I speak with many students and career development personnel about the hiring process. I’ve sat on many panels and participated in countless campus recruiting events dedicated to answering common questions including, “What happens to my application once I apply online?” and “Do thank-you notes really matter?” Throughout these conversations, I’ve noticed that there are a few common misconceptions that students share surrounding the hiring process. As a result, I’ve outlined five of these misconceptions in an effort to provide clarity around the hiring process. I’ll admit, as a former applicant myself, it can feel a little mysterious.

  • My application goes into a black hole when I apply online. We live in an online (connected) world of instant gratification. When you Google something, you can almost guarantee you’ll find an answer immediately. The online job application process is built to make it easy and quick for applicants to submit a resume. In some cases, such as when you use LinkedIn, it is literally three clicks! That said, it is not surprising that it feels like once you apply to a position online and fail to hear anything right away that your application fell into a black hole, never to be seen again, but that’s simply not the case. To ensure a fair hiring process, recruiters look at all applications until the job is filled. Generally speaking, the best time to apply to a job is when it is first posted. The reason being, most hiring managers want to fill their roles as quickly as possible, thus the sooner you apply, the more likely the chance that you’ll be considered for an interview. There is less competition given the limited time the position has been posted.
  • Career fairs are a waste of time. Believe me, career fairs feel overwhelming for both the students and the recruiters, but are never a waste of time. Recruiters attend career fairs for a variety of reasons. One being that it’s a great branding opportunity and an effective way to meet future candidates. Just because we may not have the role you’re looking for now, doesn’t mean we won’t have it in the future. Career fairs are a great opportunity to make a positive first impression and share your interest in an organization. Often times, we are actively recruiting for roles, hosting on-campus interviews shortly after the fair, and encouraging students we meet to apply.
  • All full-time jobs and summer internships are already filled by early spring semester, so it’s too late to apply. By and large, this is true for many roles, specifically finance, accounting, and analytics roles as well as rotational programs, but there are still internship and other full-time opportunities available in the spring. At Liberty Mutual, our claims, underwriting, and technology roles are still open. If you’re interested in the finance sector, I always encourage students to make sure to reconnect with us in the early fall to be considered for next year.
  • It’s bad if I apply to more than one or two roles. It makes me look desperate. This is absolutely false, if you’re applying thoughtfully. When I see that a student has applied to a few roles, it shows their interest and desire to work with our company, which is always attractive to a recruiter. However, if the student applied to too many (think: 10+ roles) in one swoop, it can look like they’re just throwing in their application to anything and hoping for the best, which is not a good strategy. When I see this approach as a recruiter, I think that the candidate maybe hasn’t thought through what they’re really interested in or read the job descriptions carefully.
  • The company doesn’t really care if I renege on my offer, they have a lot of applicants. Reneging on an offer is a terrible idea. It is unprofessional, reflects poorly on the applicant and creates more work for the organization. Yes, it is likely there are a lot of applicants for the role, however after somebody accepts an offer the recruiter declines everyone that has applied so they are not waiting to be contacted. As a result, when somebody reneges on an offer, it is likely that the recruiter will have to repost the position and start the entire process over which can take months. Instead of reneging on an offer, candidates should always feel comfortable asking for an extension to their decision deadline. We always do our best to accommodate this type of request as we understand accepting your first position post-college is a big deal and requires serious consideration.

A lot goes into campus recruiting, but it really comes down to good customer service and ensuring that there is a fair and equitable hiring process in place to ensure we find the best candidate for the aligned role. Now that I’ve confirmed for you that your application does not go into a black hole and applying to more than one role is okay, go land your next dream job.

NACE college members can pick up a student-directed version of this blog in Grab & Go on NACEWeb.

kelly d. scottKelly Scott, Campus Recruiter at Liberty Mutual Insurance
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellykonevichscott

Five Reasons to Apply to the Leadership Advancement Program

by Michelle Bata

The Leadership Advancement Program (LAP) provides opportunities for current NACE members to learn more about NACE, develop leadership skills, and think about how to become more connected to the profession. Below are some reasons to consider applying to be a part of the next cohort:

  1. Connect. Through the LAP, you are connected with other program participants as well as LAP committee members. Contact information is distributed. There is an online platform through which information is shared, and regular conference calls and virtual meetings take place throughout the year. Since my participation in the LAP, I’ve been able to go back and query some of the participants in my cohort about matters large and small which I’ve found helpful to my ongoing work.
  2. Contribute. When I was in the LAP, we were expected to work in small groups with other LAP participants to develop a project that could benefit NACE. The group project was a great opportunity to look at NACE through the lens of our membership and critically think about aspects of NACE that could be enhanced. At the end of the process, the small groups in my cohort presented their projects, which gave all of us a chance to learn more broadly about NACE through the topics that the projects focused on.
  3. Mentor. Each LAP participant is assigned a mentor with whom they are expected to connect several times over the program term. For me, the mentor relationship was easily the highlight of the program. I was able to use those conversations as spaces to learn more about issues that are strategic to my institution, and leverage the information shared to procure additional resources at my institution.
  4. Learn. The LAP is a great mechanism through which you can learn more about NACE or an area in the profession. Having the opportunity to hear from other experts in the field through the regular group calls and presentations was helpful because it gave us the opportunity to learn about issues they felt were important, which ultimately gave us a sense of where the association and discipline are heading.
  5. Focus. It’s not often that we as professionals get to think about our own professional development for a sustained amount of time. What the LAP allowed me to do was to have regular points throughout the year to focus on learning more about the issues I care deeply about, think about my contributions to NACE, and connect with like-minded colleagues.

Michelle Bata was in the 2015-16 LAP class and served on the Honors and Awards Committee in 2015-16.

Apply for the LAP program or refer a colleague who you think could make a valuable contribution to the profession and association.

Michelle Bata

Michelle Bata, Associate Dean and Director of the LEEP Center, Clark University
Twitter: https://twitter.com/michellebata
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michellebata

Dispelling the Engineering Student Myth: What Career Educators Need to Know

by Amy Brierley

As a psychology alumna and career coach with a soft spot for humanities and social sciences students, I have always thought that engineering students have it all (yes, maybe I’ve been a bit jealous). They possess the technical skills sought after in today’s job market. They have options. They are clear on what they want to do with their life. They are all but guaranteed to get a job.

Seven months ago, I transitioned to working exclusively with engineering students at Stanford. In my first few months of individual appointments with students, I was surprised to find that many of their questions have been the same as social sciences and humanities students: What do I want to do? Where will I fit? How do I compare with my peers? Will I get a job that will give me the future I hope for?

I recently led a five-part job search series entitled, Build Your Engineering Job-Search Toolkit. We created this series thinking that many of our engineering students knew what they wanted to do, but weren’t sure how to get there. However, in the first session, Designing Your Job Search, I asked, “how many of you know what you want to do?” I assumed I didn’t even need to ask this because everyone would know – but I was wrong. Of the 23 mostly masters’ students in the room, only a few raised their hands.

In the series, I hosted alumni speakers who shared their job-search experiences. They talked about their own uncertainties, and how they leaned on their mentors and their network to help them clarify their next steps and find opportunities. As I watched these alumni and students interact, I was reminded of the power of connections and mentoring in our work with students. I realized that these engineering students need models of what’s possible for them in the world of work.

How has my experience thus far changed my approach to engineering students? Instead of assuming that a computer science student wants to be a software engineer, or that a mechanical engineering student wants to work in aerospace, I maintain an open mind that they may not have a clue where they see themselves; they may be interested in a non-traditional track or they may want to do something altogether non-technical. I also don’t presuppose that engineering students only need tools for job searching, so I make it a point to ask powerful coaching questions in my meetings with them – even if it’s for a resume review; questions such as, “If in a year from now, life was great, what would it look and feel like?” or “If you had a magic wand, and you could have the internship you want, what would it look like?” Lastly, I recommend that these students reach out to mentors and alumni, and am planning future programs that foster these connections.

So, the next time you interact with an engineering student, remember that they might be feeling more uncertain about the future than you may think.

What has your experience been with engineering students? How are you helping them find what they want to do? I would love to hear!

amy brierleyAmy Brierley, Assistant Dean of Career Education & Associate Director for Career Communities – Engineering & EarthStandford University
Twitter: @amyb_stanford
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brierleyamy