Avoiding a Renege by Building a Relationship

by Susan Brennan

It’s a job seeker’s market for college students, with many returning from a summer internship with a job offer in hand—long before graduation. It’s a rosy scenario, except for the challenges it poses for both sides: Students are against the clock to accept or bow out gracefully, and employers are challenged to hold a new hire’s attention for nine months. But I have seen some creative and smart ways to avoid a renege.

A lot of companies are building retention plans that include multiple touch points from the time of the offer to the time a new employee actually fills the seat. It may be a simple gesture—sending a care package during final exams or a holiday card—or a larger commitment such as a monthly dinner. Either way, it’s about building a welcoming community from day one. Here’s what some of our corporate partners do to keep new hires in the pipeline:

Build purposeful relationships.

At PricewaterhouseCoopers, all new hires and interns are assigned a relationship partner, career coach, and peer coach. The relationship partner develops a trusting relationship with the new hire, provides insight on demonstrating high performance, and communicates the value of the PwC experience. The career coach proactively schedules time to meet with the new hire, provides ongoing career counseling, and communicates the importance of developing leadership skills. The peer coach establishes a relationship with the new hire so the individual can quickly feel comfortable contacting them with questions, supports their productivity by assisting them with tools needed to immediately begin adding value, and helps acclimate the new hire to the firm.

Hold networking events.

Networking programs provide a more casual opportunity to get to know colleagues and other new hires. Bentley students who have accepted or have an outstanding offer from Liberty Mutual, for example, are invited to attend “LMI Peer Connections.” It’s a platform to network and ask questions about career opportunities and decisions. (And free food is always a hit with college students.)

Get social.

Setting up an app or using social media is an easy way to keep candidates in touch with what’s going on at your company, and to allow them to ask questions. (I’ve see this as particularly useful if someone is relocating.) Using technology to bridge the gap is something that students are comfortable with, as they can do it on their own time: in the dorm room, on the bus, or in the cafeteria.

Create experiences.

Today’s candidates care about experiences. When EY has done campus recruiting at my university, for example, they’ve brought along a petting zoo. (Yes, real chicks, bunnies, and even a little pig). Some companies will make an offer over dinner at a nice restaurant. Whenever you get the chance to create experiences—big or small—do it. Taking the time to go that extra mile won’t go unnoticed. 

Be flexible.

If you have your heart set on a new hire, you may need to be willing to accommodate requests. If a candidate wants to accept an offer but already had plans to first spend six months after graduation doing meaningful work like Teach America, for example, perhaps it’s possible to defer a start date. You may even find ways to tie the experience into your company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Now some tips you can pass on to job seekers

Candidates can also follow some simple rules of thumb to help them decide whether an offer is right for them. (These may also be useful for employers to look at the other side.)

Do some soul searching.

At Bentley, our students actually begin the “soul searching” process during freshman year; but it’s still an ongoing, lifelong process. Identify your interests, passions, and personality. What’s going to keep you inspired and getting out of bed each day for work? Differentiate between logistical aspects of a job offer—salary, health benefits—and other opportunities like culture, mentors, educational reimbursement, and professional memberships. (Try to get away from expectations placed on you by family and friends.) 

Review the offer with career services.

Once you get a verbal or written offer, make an appointment with a career services professional at your school. They can review compensation and benefits, address any concerns, and discus appropriate next steps. (They can also guide you on offer etiquette—whether accepting or declining an offer—as most schools have policies on both.) 

Set (or re-set) your priorities.

Just because an employer didn’t pop open a bottle of expensive champagne during your job offer, it doesn’t mean that they don’t value your work. Companies have different policies they need to follow. Step back and think about the big picture: Is the company culture a good fit? Do they offer great benefits? Is there opportunity to grow? 

Ask for an extension.

If you aren’t sure whether to accept or reject an offer, companies are typically sensitive to giving you time to make an informed decision. If you have a month or two, for example, take that time to explore what else is out there. In the end, employers will respect the time you took in making a well-thought decision. But, remember, deadlines are set to give employers time to reach out to other candidates, so the sooner you break the news, the better for everyone. 

Have difficult conversations.

A student came to me with a job offer in hand; he loved the company but not the actual job he was offered. In a case like this, it’s okay to talk with the employer and explain that you would love to work for them, but perhaps in a different role. Just be sure not to wait until the last minute or send an e-mail. Pick up the phone and have a candid, respectful conversation. (A career services professional can guide you through these kinds of conversations.) 

One last note to employers.

In the end, a renege is sometimes unavoidable—and could even be a blessing in disguise: If a new hire has reservations about accepting the job, they will likely show up unhappy and may end up not performing well if their head isn’t in the game. 

The reality is that it’s a new world order and talented candidates are driving corporate strategy. But retaining the best and brightest during these competitive times is possible. Be solutions oriented, and you’ll negotiate a mutual win.

susan brennanSusan Brennan, Associate Vice President for University Career Services, Bentley University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susansandlerbrennan
Twitter: @BentleyCareerSB
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/bentleycareer/?fref=ts
Website:  http://careeredge.bentley.edu/

Breaking Away from the Four-Year Career Plan: Implementing a Personalized Career Planning Model

by Amanda Carchedi

This past June, the Center for Career Development (CCD) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) was pleased to receive the 2016 NACE Member’s Choice Award for the program entitled “Breaking Away from the Four-Year Plan: Implementing a Personalized Career Planning Model.” This program, designed by Nancy Bilmes, Amanda Carchedi, Lee Hameroff, and Emily Merritt from the CCD, is a modern resource that provides career development guidance to students while remaining inherently flexible. Working at an institution with more than 30,000 students, the CCD found it critical to provide career guidance that could reach and be applicable to all students. In order to offer structured guidance and action items, and integrate modern techniques for delivery, it was realized that the CCD needed to move away from the traditional, outdated four-year planning model. Piloted within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the UConn Personalized Career Planning Model successfully provides students with an individualized career experience that is customized to their career development needs.

The Original: CLAS Exploration Plan

Our work on Personalized Career Planning has been realized in two stages. First, Emily sought to benefit College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) students by creating and implementing the “Developing a Career Exploration Plan” video and “Next Steps” questionnaire, which helped these students understand the elements of career exploration through a brief Prezi voiceover clip and next steps questionnaire, producing a tailored action plan based on the student’s self-identified career development stages and connecting to resources offered through the CCD.

In its first year of implementation, the CLAS Exploration Plan was piloted with arts and sciences students, as well as introduced to incoming students through career presentations at University Open Houses. One hundred fifty students and alumni used the resource. It was evaluated by requesting informal qualitative feedback from students, and academic advisors who referred students to the resource.  Students said the video helped them learn about resources they were previously unaware of, that they shared the resource with friends, and that it helped motivate them to initiate their next steps. An academic adviser that referred students to the resource said she shared it because it “demystified the concept of vocational development” and helped students develop tangible next steps.

New and Improved: UConn Personal Career Plan

This positive feedback led our department to decide to create a new version of this modernized resource to support all undergraduate students in developing their personalized career plans. We started by creating a new model, the UConn Career Engagement Model, to represent our department’s philosophy of supporting all UConn students in their career exploration, cultivation, and management.

The UConn Personal Career Plan builds off of our new model by guiding students through the career elements of “Reflect & Explore Possibilities,” “Cultivate Career Capital,” and “Manage Career Development.” Students can watch a 90-second introductory video to learn how to start their Personalized Action Plan.

Once watching the “Getting Started” video students can watch one of three clips based on where they are in their personal career development. Currently our webpage gives suggested next steps based on which element they’ve clicked on.

We are in the process of developing a customizable action list where students can identify next steps based on which career element they are within and design their own personal career plan to organize goals and future steps.  This “Action Steps Builder” and the completed UConn Personalized Career Plan will launch in spring 2017 and be promoted to all undergraduate students.

Moving Forward

Once the customizable UConn Personal Career Plan is fully launched, the program will be promoted to academic advisors from all departments as a tool to refer students to the career office. It will ensure that students are coming into the office better prepared to receive personalized coaching and guidance.  The department is committed to integrating the model as a foundation for its counseling, programming, and technology resources and is working to establish a committee to work on the continued expansion and integration of the personalized career planning model and career development process. Ideas for further integration include utilization of the resource during initial counseling appointments to development action plans for subsequent sessions and training of academic advisors to use the resource as a tool for referrals to the CCD.

The Center for Career Development (CCD) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) was awarded the 2016 NACE Member’s Choice Award for the program entitled “Breaking Away from the Four-Year Plan: Implementing a Personalized Career Planning Model.”

NACE is accepting submissions for the 2017 NACE Awards program from December 1, 2016, through January 31, 2017. Finalists for NACE Awards will be notified in the spring, and winners will be announced during the NACE 2017 Conference & Expo in June in Las Vegas.

 

Amanda Carchedi

Amanda Carchedi, University of Connecticut Marketing and Communication Manager, Center for Career Development
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amandalcarchedi
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/amandacarchedi

The Art of Delivering Career Counseling/Advising Virtually

by Kara Brown

University and college career centers all over the country experience challenges reaching their online and satellite campus students. However, these online programs and satellite campuses are incredibly important for students who work full time, are nontraditional, or have other responsibilities that they need to attend to, which makes in-person workshops nearly impossible to attend. While these students are able to gain the knowledge and information that they need to be successful in the classroom, they are missing out on the knowledge and information that they need to be successful in their job search and career development.

While our university is relatively small, we have three satellite campuses and several online programs for our undergraduate and graduate students. We have reached out to these students and requested their feedback about how we can better serve them. The large majority of students explained that they want more access to workshops and presentations because they usually cannot attend on-campus events due to distance or schedules. Our career development center then worked with IT and the satellite campus administration to use Adobe Connect to provide live career development workshops for these students. We are even able to record the workshops so that we can e-mail these workshops to the students who missed them.

Recently, we held our second virtual workshop, and I was given the opportunity to present. Our office decided to present on the topic of resume and cover letter writing. The process of preparing was similar to an in-person workshop or presentation, but it did require e-mailing the link to students and alumni who were interested in attending. Our staff also advertised the event through our social media outlets. Once the evening had arrived, we had more than 60 students and alumni registered for the workshop. This was a huge number in comparison to on-campus workshops that we have held. When the virtual presentation had started there were about 25 students and alumni in the workshop, but this was still a great turnout for us.

Adobe Connect allows the presenter to use live video and audio feed, and I was able to share my computer screen with all of the presenters. Also, workshop attendees can use the chat box to type questions in real time, which is a great function. I have to admit that it felt a bit strange to speak to my computer screen as opposed to actual people, but eventually it felt like any other workshop that I have conducted. Almost minutes after the presentation had concluded, our office received four e-mails from students and alumni requesting services for resume and cover letter reviews. We also sent out a survey requesting feedback, and all of the comments were positive.

While challenges will always exist in trying to reach all of our students, we are excited by the use of technology and software to be able to face these challenges head on. There are a number of positive outcomes to implementing these types of workshops, and we are looking forward to launching more in the future.
If you or your career centers have any questions regarding virtual workshops, feel free to contact me at brown.kara@gmercyu.edu. I would also love to hear feedback about ways that your career centers have successfully reached your online and satellite campus students.
Kara BrownKara Brown, Associate Director of Career Development, Gwynedd Mercy University
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brownkara
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gmercyucareers

Collaboration: More Isn’t Always Better

by Kathy Douglas

Collaboration is taking over the workplace. — Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, and Adam Grant

Teamwork, collaboration, stakeholder engagement—these are all buzzwords in job descriptions where interactions with clients and colleagues are integral to getting work done.   “Over the past two decades,” according to Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, and Adam Grant in their article in the Harvard Business Review, Collaborative Overload, “the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50 percent or more.”

What are the implications of this change in the workplace?  Workloads become lopsided — when “20 to 35 percent of value-added collaborations come from only 3 to 5 percent of employees.”  Women bear a disproportionate share of collaborative work. Top collaborators are in demand by colleagues, and tend to burn out fast. Top collaborators are often not recognized by senior management, and studies show that they have the lowest levels of job satisfaction.

As advisers, we encourage students to enter the work force with enthusiasm and to go the extra mile. Take on additional duties, we counsel. Do an extraordinary job.  But according to Cross, Rebele, and Grant, while “a single ‘extra miler’—an employee who frequently contributes beyond the scope of his or her role—can drive team performance more than all the other members combined…this ‘escalating citizenship’…only further fuels the demands placed on top collaborators.”

Should we then be telling our students a different story?  Should students entering the work force in large companies and organizations temper their enthusiasm when it comes to collaboration, and if so, how?

Part of the answer lies in knowing the nature of collaboration and collaborative resources, which Cross, Rebele, and Grant discuss.

Part of it lies in the corollary to the authors’ assertion that: “Leaders must learn to recognize, promote, and efficiently distribute the right kinds of collaborative work.” Namely, employees (and the students we advise) must also learn to recognize their own work, promote themselves, and create effective boundaries to avoid collaborative overload.

I think the message career advisers convey can still insist on doing a great job and expanding one’s role in ways that are in line with one’s talents and interests.  But I think it’s also important for students, before entering the work force, to develop strategies to avoid collaboration overload and the burn out it can generate.

As Cross, Rebele, and Grant aptly note: “Collaboration is indeed the answer to many of today’s most pressing business challenges. But more isn’t always better.”

Kathryn DouglasKathy Douglas, Senior Associate Director Career Development Office, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/douglaskathy
Twitter: @fescdo
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Yale-FES-Career-Development-Office/134339426609741
Website: environment.yale.edu/cdo

The Differences Between Working in Higher Education and Corporate America

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

I never thought I would do anything other than work in higher education. With a background in educational counseling psychology and a job as a career counselor and assistant director within a career center at a Boston-area university, I had no need to look for a life outside the ivy-covered walls. But then an intriguing opportunity presented itself and I made the leap to corporate America. And I now find myself as a de facto spokesperson for corporate America among my higher education friends and colleagues. The information that most piques their interest is: “What are the differences between working there and here?” And I always tell them, while there are differences, the two worlds aren’t as far apart as you might think.

It’s a different kind of fast paced.

I thought there was only one kind of fast paced, but I was wrong. As an assistant director at a career center, I had a lot to do. There were student appointments, large- and small-scale events to plan and facilitate, workshops, class presentations, semester planning, and ad hoc projects. As a recruiter, it is also fast paced with numerous projects to complete, yearly planning, interviews, and regular meetings with various stakeholders across the organization.

So, what’s the difference then? The difference are the deadlines. I can’t speak for all universities because I’m drawing from personal experience, but overall, I had a lot of autonomy when it came to deadlines. “When do you think you could have that done?” was a question I was frequently fielding as a career counselor. Additionally, it was acceptable to spend a semester or two hammering out a new program or idea and generally the only people you were answering to were those in your department and the students.

Deadlines in corporate America are much less fluid. Many of the decisions and projects that I’m working on directly affect a team in a completely different department or business unit. As a result, deadlines are determined by a group and driven by quarterly business needs and recruiting cycle timelines. This creates a different sense of urgency than what I experienced in the higher education sector. Not better or worse, just different.

The private sector is more formal.

This shouldn’t be a shocker: it’s more formal. Working with college students makes for a much more casual environment than working with business leaders in a Fortune 100 company. The casual nature lends itself to forming deep personal connections with co-workers and, in my opinion, is one of its most appealing attributes of working in at a college or university. It wasn’t uncommon to share personal successes and even heartaches and frustrations with your direct co-workers or even your supervisor. Mind you, you’ve got a bunch of counselors sharing feelings, so it’s probably not that unusual, but when you’re in the mix of it, you don’t realize what was going on until you leave.

There’s not so much sharing in the corporate world. While there is a huge emphasis on respect, integrity and development—and my colleagues are incredibly supportive and caring—the mushy-gushy feeling of my last department is gone. I have a few co-workers that I am thankful to have developed very close friendships with over the last year, but corporate culture doesn’t support oversharing the way education does. Again, neither one is better or worse than the other, but there are recognizable differences.

People move around a lot more in corporate.

My personal experience in higher education is that a lot of people stay put or climb the ladder within their particular function or department. My former boss had been at the university for more than 15 years—almost entirely as a career counselor with notable promotions within her department. Her boss was there just as long and on the same path. Many of my co-workers were self-proclaimed “lifers” and stayed within the academic counseling field in some capacity. You get to know your co-workers really well and they have in-depth knowledge about the organization and the department history.

Corporate works a little differently. Since I started a year ago, multiple people have moved to completely different business units and taken on very different roles. My company puts an emphasis on professional development and growth, so it isn’t surprising that there is a lot of movement. In fact, people are encouraged to explore new opportunities that will challenge their professional growth within the organization. The drawback is that people move around a lot and it seems as though as soon as I think I am getting to know somebody, they get promoted or move on to another part of the organization. Definitely all great things, but it is a stark contrast to what I saw working in higher education.

Both the corporate and higher education cultures have their pros and cons and I think it really all comes down to what you value in work and in your career. There are certainly things I miss about higher education (holiday break) and other things I certainly do not miss (freshman orientation). That said, work values and skills change and develop as we grow professionally. Who knows what the next 10 years will bring, but for those of you wondering, corporate is not as scary as you think and has almost as much free food as you get in higher education.

Practice Interviews and Anxiety

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

A key issue that I have noticed with the majority of practice interviews that I conduct with students is anxiety. Often during a practice interview I observe symptoms of anxiety including: pressured speech, agitation of hands and feet, sweating, increased heartrate, nervous laughter, and sometimes crying. I am quickly able to identify these symptoms because in addition to my career counseling background, I also am trained in clinical mental health counseling.

While interview anxiety can be uncomfortable and difficult to address with students, I have found it to be extremely important to discuss. In some cases, anxiety can be linked to fear, lack of self-confidence, and/or lack of experience. It is important to address these issues head on before the student goes into an interview.

What can career counselors/advisers do to help?

Address it. Whenever we are in an uncomfortable situation we tend to want to ignore it. However, ignoring the anxiety that a student is experiencing in regard to interviewing could potentially continue to worsen the anxiety. Therefore, address the issue with, “I notice that you seem anxious. Tell me about that.”

Actively listen. Listen to what the student is telling you. For example, I had a student explain that they did not feel qualified for the position that they were applying to. So I went through each job requirement, and asked the student to give an example of how they met that requirement. The student felt more confident because they were able to verbally reason why they were qualified for the position.

Encourage practice. For some students, continuing to practice for an interview can help boost their confidence and decrease their anxiety.

Provide anxiety reducing techniques. There are several techniques that anyone can use to reduce anxiety. This may require a bit of research to find which one would work best for your students. While working with students with interview anxiety, I typically recommend that they use the technique of “being present.” I explain to them that while they are sitting in the lobby prior to going in for an interview, they take a few slow deep breaths, and notice what is going on around them. For example, what does the room look like? What do you smell? What are you feeling? I find that this process helps to lower a student’s anxiety by refocusing their attention on to something else.

Refer. There may be situations in which a student’s anxiety is so severe that they may require counseling services. It is important to have a referral process in place with your university’s counseling service in case these kinds of situations were to occur.
After you have conducted a practice interview with a student, make sure that you follow up with that student to find out how the interview went for them. Ask these students, “What went well? What did not go well? Did anything surprise you?” This kind of follow up allows the student to self-evaluate, and also helps to maintain their connection with your career development center.

Career Readiness: Exploring Leadership

KKathryn Douglasathy Douglas, Senior Associate Director Career Development Office, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/douglaskathy
Twitter: @fescdo
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Yale-FES-Career-Development-Office/134339426609741
Website: environment.yale.edu/cdo

The effective leader is someone who can communicate rationally, connecting relationally, manage practically and lead directionally and strategically. The head, the heart, the hands and the feet are all effectively engaged in the leadership process.Australian Leadership Foundation

Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.Career Readiness for the New College Graduate, A Definition and Competencies, National Association of Colleges and Employers

 

Most of us lead in unique ways everyday but can’t articulate how. And most people, when asked to talk about their leadership, default to examples of being the top person in charge of a team, of a club, of a project. Students I work with often get stressed if they have not been the captain of a varsity team, served as a board member or been the treasurer for a social club, stating I don’t have any leadership experience.  The majority of people I counsel on this topic think first of charismatic or natural born leaders—the rare individuals with big personalities who motivate others through inspiration.

Leadership as defined by NACE’s Career Readiness for the New College Graduate goes beyond the “natural born leader” definition by focusing on the interpersonal, on empathy for guiding and motivating, on emotional intelligence, and on the ability to organize, prioritize, and delegate. The Australian Leadership Foundation draws from ancient Greek philosophers and the ontology of the human in naming four essential areas of effective leadership: Praxis, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. A quick google search will provide another host of leadership definitions, theories and models, including:

  • Transactional
  • Transformational
  • Servant
  • Free-Rein
  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Supportive
  • Situational
  • Participative

For the visual learner, a google image search will also uncover an array of colorful charts, graphs and diagrams depicting many current leadership models, theories and styles—a bounty of choices to consider when thinking about how to frame one’s own leadership preferences and style.

Google leadership models

 

What kind of leader are you?

While encouraging a student to do the research necessary to develop their own definition of leadership, I usually suggest that they begin with leadership model images that appeal to them. It is relatively easy to then follow the links to read about theories and types of leadership.

Some questions to think about while researching models:

  • Have I held many official leadership positions in my life so far?
  • Do I tend to foster collaboration? How?
  • Do I prefer to do everything myself, or am I able to delegate?
  • Who is my favorite leader?  Why?
  • Can I describe one specific example of my favorite leader’s leadership?
  • Am I the volunteer note-taker who may go unnoticed but who develops an agenda based on group consensus and sends it out by email ten minutes after the meeting?
  • Which of these models resonate with me?
  • Do I insist on my own compelling strategy and sell it?
  • Do I regularly advise and mentor peers?
  • How do I define effective leadership?

The Importance of Team

As team models are integral to leadership models, I also refer students to the Margerison-McCann Team Management Wheel. With its holistic symbol, the circle, it illustrates the varied and equally important roles required in a group to accomplish goals.  And in many leadership models, these team roles are also leadership roles.  The majority of students I work immediately relate to one or more parts of this wheel—Creator/Innovators, Thruster/Organizers, Controller/Inspectors, Linkers, Concluder/Producers—and are quickly able to articulate their unique leadership style.

This model also helps students recognize peers in new ways. They may realize that a group member they are annoyed with who has trailed off at the conclusion of a project was, in fact, extremely active in the idea generation and organizing phase of the project and has already made a vital contribution. They may recognize that a team member who has not made a significant concrete contribution has actually been actively managing group dynamics and keeping communication lines open (The Linkers).  They might newly appreciate the range of roles and types of leadership on their team, including their own.

Recognizing one’s natural leanings and the roles one typically assumes on a team is key to discovering and articulating one’s leadership style. Likewise, understanding the leanings and roles of others is extremely important.  By delving into specifics, by thinking, talking, and writing about them, we unearth a wealth of interesting material for describing leadership.  When we develop our own definition of leadership, we make a frame.  And in that frame, we can see a concrete illustration of our leadership.