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

Career Research: How to Measure Career Success

by Desalina Guarise and James W. Kostenblatt

This is the first of several blog posts that will explore career-related research and feature interviews with those researchers. Let us know if you have individuals you would like to see featured.

As recipients of a NACE Research Grant, we will be kicking off a study this fall to explore the long-term impact unpaid internships have on career success (30 institutions are participating and we are looking for more partners to join; contact us if interested!) As a part of this project, we began exploring how to define  and measure career success—a complicated and somewhat nebulous concept. Luckily, we came across a research study recently published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, “Development of a New Scale to Measure Subjective Career Success: A Mixed-Methods Study” 37.1 (2015): 128-53, where Dr. Kristen Shockley and her colleagues did the heavy lifting for us. We will be using both objective measure of success (i.e. salary) and the subjective measures Dr. Shockley developed in our study.

In an interview, Dr. Shockley shared details about her research and the release of the “Subjective Career Success Inventory”—a 24-item questionnaire and validated measure of career success that resulted from the study.

Tell us about your professional background. How did you come to focus on career-related research?
I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia and my Ph.D. in Industrial organizational psychology from the University of South Florida. From beginning of my doctoral program I was interested in how people manage work and family and how to have a fulfilling work life and personal life at the same time.

In the article, you mention that measures of career success have evolved over time, shifting from objective measures to subjective measures. Tell us more about this evolution.
Years ago, you started at one company, paid your dues, and retired from that company. Now people have something like seven jobs over the course of their career.  With this shift people’s values have also changed. When we interviewed people for the study, they spoke about how important it is to having a meaningful personal life outside of their career as well as clear work/life boundaries. They also want to feel like their work is meaningful. When we looked at the existing career research, they used to measure career success very objectively—you are successful if you make a lot of money. The previous subjective measures were just about satisfaction. That’s where this career success model—the subjective model—came from; it takes into account these newer values. 

Tell us about your development of the Subjective Career Success Inventory?
We began by conducting interviews and focus groups with people from all different types of careers. We then transcribed all of the interviews, coded them, and came up with themes. Finally we focused on testing the scale for validity and reliability. The research took seven years from start to finish and we ended up with a 24-item questionnaire broken out into eight dimensions or categories that were important to these professionals when assessing their own career success: recognition, quality work, meaningful work, influence, authenticity, personal life, growth and development, and satisfaction.  

What implications do you think this has for practitioners like ourselves in career services?
Practitioners already know that it’s a daunting task for students to pick a field to go into. It’s important to have some sense of what you value and how likely it is that those values will map onto careers you are considering. This research further supports the importance of students reflecting on their values and thinking beyond objective measures of career success when decision-making. 

What are you working on now with your research?
Right now I’m trying to establish an inventory for the family-friendliness of different career paths using data from O*Net.  Hopefully this will help students and professionals make decisions about which career path may be right for them.

If you’d like to participate in research exploring the long-term impact unpaid internships have on career success , contact Alina Guarise or James Kostenblatt.

Alina GuariseDesalina (Alina) Guarise, Associate Director of Career Advancement Center at Lake Forest College
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/desalina

 

 

 

James W. Kostenblatt

James, W. Kostenblatt, Associate Director, New York University’s Wasserman Center for Career Development
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jameskostenblatt

We Are All Career Services

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

 

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

 

The Career Services Profession Is for Artists, Too

Tamara ClarksonTamara Clarkson, Career Services Consultant, Purdue University
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tamaraclarkson
Twitter: @tamcatcam

In the four years I’ve worked in career services, I’ve consistently heard we must recruit staff with diverse backgrounds and from various fields. I wholeheartedly agree, but that might just be my degree in art talking.

I began college, like many first-generation students, surprised I’d even gotten in. Now I was expected to pick a lifelong career? My freshman year, I studied studio art at a private university, but soon realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do and transferred to a community college closer to home. After a year of community college, I transferred to Texas State University, and when they wouldn’t take “undecided” as my choice for a major—as a junior—I hastily stuck with art. With that decision, I had seemingly selected my path for life. I focused on art education,n but found that the teaching profession did not suit my INFJ-ness. Then I thought, maybe art history could be a fulfilling career.

How many students have you seen that make life-altering decisions like these almost at random? If you’re keeping track, that’s three majors in as many schools and I was completely lost. I didn’t know how to evaluate what I loved or what I needed to feel satisfied in a career.

So I saw a career counselor.

Just kidding!

Like many first generation college students, I had no idea how to navigate the college system or find the resources that could provide direction. When I finally reflected, as a super senior, on what would give me true fulfillment and satisfaction in the workplace, I realized for the first time that what I was skilled at (creating art) did not align with what would bring me professional satisfaction (helping others).

The best professional decision I ever made was applying to the counseling program at Texas State after receiving my B.A. in art history. Luckily, the faculty saw my unique background as an asset. The program made me become who I am today and I’m so thankful to the professors and colleagues who helped shape me. It was there that I learned I needed a career that involved counseling, but also offered opportunities to work on projects and meet deadlines. I conducted several informational interviews with Texas State’s career services professionals and realized career services could provide the balance I was looking for. Four years later, I am a career services consultant at Purdue’s Center for Career Opportunities (CCO). If getting an M.A. in counseling was the best professional decision of my life, joining the CCO is my second.

When I see students struggling to stick with a career path that they have the skillset but not the passion for, or they simply don’t know what they’d be interested in pursuing outside of college, I enjoy telling them that so many others have struggled with the same dilemma. We are all unique, and as we change, so may our professional goals and interests. They don’t have to choose what they want to do for the rest of their lives, all they have to figure out is their first few steps. And I can tell them that diverse interests and a curiosity that exceeds a narrow career path are assets, not liabilities, because I am a career services professional, but I wouldn’t be here if I was not also an artist.

Helping Students Find Expertise

KKathryn Douglasathy Douglas, 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

Words that rhyme with expertise:
Appease, Bhutanese, breeze, cerise, cheese, éminence grise, freeze, journalese, marquise, overseas, Portuguese, seize, sneeze, squeeze, Stockton-on-Tees,
trapeze, valise, vocalese, wheeze – selections from Oxford Dictionary.com

Part of my job is to encourage students going on the job market to think about their areas of expertise. My goal is for them to confidently position themselves as candidates with specialized knowledge—not only as doers with hands-on experience to quantify on their resume with start and end dates, and not only as technical, language, or soft skill wizards with long lists of certifications and skills. Although these elements are important too.

I have read drafts of resumes where I can barely tell that a student has just spent two to six years taking courses, conducting complicated research, and learning broadly and deeply.

And so I ask them about coursework, concepts, areas of expertise.

  • Student: “But I can’t include x on my resume, I don’t have any experience doing it!”
  • Me: “Do you know anything about x?”
  • Student: “Well, yes, [insert impromptu dissertation on x].”

During these impromptu dissertations, I jot down some of the specific, interesting keywords that roll off a student’s tongue—COP21, LCA, renewables, EPI, deforestation free, paw paw, NRDC, camera trap, biophilic, Hotshot, CEQ, ecosystem services, bioswale, carbon neutral, Clean Air Act, systems thinking, Peace Corps, biochar. I might ask for clarification of a few terms, and suddenly there are more keywords. In a career counseling session, students do not have to worry about impressing me. And if I ask the right questions, they reveal that they do know something. And usually it is a lot of something.

It doesn’t matter if I’m working with a career-changing masters candidate with 10 years of work experience or an international student straight out of an undergraduate program—transitioning from student to expert is intimidating. Most students balk when I ask them to tell me about their expertise.

Afterall, students are students. They are learners. Faculty are the experts.

Surrounded by faculty experts and by peers who know a lot of the same things, students tend to think of themselves as:

  • knowing significantly less than others, and
  • not knowing anything special.

While I ask questions to tease out specific knowledge and reflect it back, I suggest the following knowledge scale to help students frame and think more objectively about their expertise:

  • For the past two years I have focused on…
  • I have expertise in…
  • I have thorough knowledge of…
  • I have knowledge of…
  • I am thoroughly familiar with…
  • I am familiar with…
  • I have heard of it.

When an advisee finishes describing the statewide coastal resiliency planning, renewable energy finance mechanisms, or conflict resolution strategies in small rural communities in a developing country they have been focusing on for two years (but failed to mention on their resume because it wasn’t part of their work experience), I hand them a Post-It note (or three) with keywords and concepts I have gleaned.

And then I prompt them with these questions:

  • Are there any areas included here in which you can confidently claim expertise?
  • Can you use some of this language to summarize a two-year academic or professional focus?
  • Can you identify two or three topics from this list in which you have thorough knowledge?
  • Do you have anything to add to knowledge and expertise you haven’t included in your cover letter and resume?

Unpacking knowledge, focus, and expertise is a key process for accurately and strongly presenting oneself.  Once these elements are thought out and well articulated, they can be emphasized on a resume (in a variety of ways including a bullet or bullets under degree of Selected Coursework, Projects, or Focus, or with a separate, brief “Research Interest” or “Special Focus” section), highlighted in a cover letter, and included when answering a range of interview questions.