Career Research Series: Incivility in the Job Search

by Desalina (Alina) Guarise and James W. Kostenblatt

This post is part of a series of interviews that will explore career-related research. As recipients of a NACE Research Grant, we are partnering with nearly 40 institutions to explore the long-term impact unpaid internships have on career success and are looking for more partners to join. Contact us if interested!

Through our research project, we have had the pleasure of working closely with Abdifatah A. Ali, a doctoral candidate in organizational psychology at Michigan State University graduating in May 2017 who has closely studied motivation in the job search.  In an interview, Abdifatah shared details about his research paper, “The long road to employment: Incivility experienced by job seekers,” published in October in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Tell us a little bit about your professional background. How did you become interested in career-related research?
I graduated with my undergraduate degree from San Diego State studying psychology with a minor in statistics. Here, I started doing research with an industrial-organizational psychology professor who encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D. My research interests early on dealt with motivation—in particular how individuals self-regulate their emotions, behavior, or actions in order to achieve their goals when looking for work. For example, when people are unemployed or college students are looking for work, how do they motivate themselves and what are the factors that influence their level of motivation and persistence so they can get a job?

At Michigan State University, I collaborated with Dr. Ann Marie Ryan to examine how people’s emotional reactions impacted their job search success (defined as whether the candidate received interview call backs, job offers, etc.). We were able to show that BOTH positive and negative emotions that people experience when they are looking for work motivate them. So, for example, if you just get a call back from a company that makes you feel excited or happy, that will motivate you and encourage you to continue to put effort into the job search. On the other hand, if you are experiencing challenges or anxiety, these negative emotions can actually also motivate effort, which is contrary to what we thought.

I’ve more recently made a switch and begun to look at factors that undermine job search efforts, which relates to my current research.

Your current research focuses on incivility experienced by job seekers—how did you come up with this research topic?
Before this paper there was very little research looking at which contextual factors undermine motivation—they were only looking at things that facilitate it. When you talk to individuals that are job searching, they constantly talk about experiencing incivility, which got us wondering what effects these incidents have on the job search process.

How do you define incivility? Can you give some examples?
Incivility is defined as generally rude or discourteous behaviors that are ambiguous in terms of intent. For example, a snide comment or a funny look from a recruiter or interviewer. They are perceived as behaving in a rude way but you don’t necessarily know if they are doing it intentionally.  

Tell us more about the research design and findings.
A majority of the research on incivility has been conducted about incivility experienced by professionals once they actually work at an organization; we were instead focusing on the job search. We began with a qualitative study to understand the nature of incivility during the job search. In the first stage of our research, we interviewed 100 job seekers and asked them whether they had experienced incivility and collected details about the incident. We’d then ask them what they thought the cause of that behavior was. We were interested in how people interpreted the ambiguous nature of these incidents. In one example, the interviewer is abrupt and doesn’t give the candidate a lot of time. Some candidates may view that experience by simply thinking that the interviewer was busy (i.e., externalizing the cause), while others may think that the interviewer was rude to them because of their incompetence (i.e., internalizing the cause).

The second and third study were more empirical. We wondered if there was a way we could predict who will externalize or internalize these incidents. We found that, for those who internalize the cause of these incidents, incivility undermines one of the best predictors of job-search motivation which is job-search self-efficacy or self-confidence.  Conversely, job-search motivation was not impacted for those who externalized the cause of these incidents.

What implications do you think this has for career services practitioners and employers?
Our findings support the need for resilience training and other tactics that would help job seekers re-frame the cause of these incidents.  If we can help them by not attributing the cause to themselves we can ensure their job search motivation doesn’t suffer.

I think it also has implications for those who are recruiting, as they are seeking ways to ensure candidates have a great experience and ultimately accept an offer.  Incidents of incivility can have a real influence on the talent pipeline.  

What are you working on now with your research?
A project really relevant to the NACE audience is one I’m working on with Dr. Phil Gardner related to internships. We are examining the role employees have on student interns including both employees who are assigned as formal supervisors and those that act as informal mentors. We are studying how these individuals impact whether or not interns accept full-time offers at the end of their internship experience. Results should be out in the near future.   

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

 

 

 

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

3 Tips to Build a Better Talent Community

by Trong Dong

In the world of HR, a “talent community” is no longer an unfamiliar term to recruiters. Why? Because employers want to find the most qualified and fit talent, and talented candidates want to get the best jobs, but candidates do not necessarily find the best job for them at the time they visit an employer’s’ website. A talent community is a medium enabling employers to connect with candidates who don’t see an immediately available opportunity with the company. It’s a hub where candidates can submit their information to a company without committing to a specific position.

Not only do talent communities help employers find candidates who are truly interested in the company, but they also capture the most qualified candidates who may be ideal fits for an organization. Liane Wuthrich, assistant manager at Famous Footwear, said, “A company’s talent community could be your most valuable resource. It saves you time, money, and helps you find not only good employees, but great employees.”

Improving talent communities is a necessary tool for recruiters to hire the most talented candidates for their firms. Here are the three tips to keep in mind to help you build a better talent community.

Think like a marketer

In order to come up with an effective engagement strategy with candidates, employers need to think and act in terms of marketing. They need to ask basic marketing questions such as, “How do I develop four Cs (consumption, curation, creation, and connection) of content marketing?” “Who are my target audience and how can I reach these people?” and “How can I make myself visible so that people can follow me?”

Answering these questions will help talent community builders better develop a top-of-mind brand marketing strategy. This strategy includes having a good content marketing plan that engages talent communities with relevant articles and makes people think about the companies. It also involves an effective segmentation plan that categorizes your target audience into groups based on geography, age, gender, or fields of pursuit (IT, nursing, public relations, etc.) so that you can send relevant and targeted information to each prospect.

Given the heat of social media availability nowadays, it is essential to expand your accessibility on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Social media is an ideal tool for sourcing and advertising, thereby assisting talent communities to attract and encourage candidates to follow their companies.

Encourage referrals

Companies rely on internal referrals to have a successful talent community. A big accounting firm like Ernst & Young set ambitious internal goals to increase the proportion of hiring that come from internal referrals. Larry Nash, director of experienced and executive recruiting at Ernst & Young said, “Although Earnst & Young looks at every résumé, a referral puts them in the express lane.”

The benefits of having internal referrals are promising. The inside perspective of current employees will help referred candidates better understand the company culture and the demands of the position. Thus, it should come as no surprise if referred candidates stay twice as long as others.

The most recent CareerXRoads Source of Hire Report showed that referrals are effective, weighing in at the #1 spot for sources of hires.

Always leverage the long-term value of your community

Having a strong talent community is nice, but maintaining and taking advantage of it over time takes extra effort. In order to exploit the maximum benefits of your talent community and enhance members’ commitment, I recommend the three R’s steps—reduce, reuse, recycle.

  • Reduce: Communicate with members consistently to reduce costs in advertising jobs. Try sharing job opportunities directly with candidates.
  • Reuse: Re-use candidates who have not been hired, but prove potential for the current open positions.
  •  Recycle: Use candidates who are not qualified for one position for other possible positions, thereby keeping them engaged with the community.

I recommend applying these three steps to improve your talent communities and hire the most talented candidates out there. What other methods would you suggest to better talent communities?

Trong DongTrong Dong, CEO/CTO at Rakuna
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tddong
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trongdong

 

 

 

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/

Supporting Students in the Race for Talent

by Heather Tranen
It’s  no secret among college campuses that recruiters are investing in talent earlier and earlier every year. I half expect the big banks will soon reach out to my two-year-old for a milk chat to discuss his advanced color identification skills. As the arms race for talent becomes more competitive and the talent pools become younger, how do career services professionals support their students?

1) Help them with their FOMO (fear of missing out). Niche industries have the capacity to recruit en mass early in the recruiting season. Many students may feel they should forego valuable life experiences such as studying abroad to avoid fear of missing out at home during on-campus recruitment. I meet with a lot of students reconsidering their decision to study abroad. Once I do some digging, beneath the surface of their fears I find only a lukewarm interest in the fields recruiting during their time away. I explain to them that they can still have informational interviews with alumni, do research on potential career interests and organizations, and even participate in some sort of experiential learning opportunity in between classes and traipsing the globe during their semester abroad. Once they become educated on the recruitment process and discover ways to remain productive in their career development while away they feel much more empowered and confident in their decisions.

2) Provide support resources. As students get recruited earlier in the process, it’s important that we adjust our services to meet their needs and to ensure they are prepared for the professional world. To be competitive, it will be crucial that students develop their interviewing and professional skills. This means tailoring programs earlier in their college experiences to cover these topics, create awareness among students of resources, and shed light on different internship opportunities available to them. Networking with alumni can be a valuable experience so offering venues for students to meet alumni in a less intimidating, non-recruiting environment can give them the insight they need to make good decisions during the recruitment process. Sometimes just hearing another person’s story can put students’ minds at ease.

3) Offer up offer advice. Students are making big decisions about their careers early in their college experiences. This can lead to rash decision making without the necessary strategic thinking. It’s important for us as career services professionals to ensure students are making good decisions for themselves. We want to avoid the dreaded reneging, which harms the reputations of both the individual student and the university at large, and foster mature and thoughtful career decisions. Brainstorming the right questions students can ask to get the most information about the potential internship experience helps them to consider which is the right opportunity for them. Additionally, working collaboratively with recruiters to create fair and firm offer guidelines helps us protect our students and  ensure a positive experience for the employers.

Many of us will venture into uncharted territory as we during campus recruitment next semester (conveniently, I will be on maternity leave so…..let me know how that all goes). As with all the changes we experience in higher education, it’s important to be flexible, open-minded, and share best practices with each other.

Heather Tranen
Heather Tranen,
Associate Director, University of Pennsylvania Career ServicesLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heathertranen
Twitter: @htranen

Understanding Future Work Force Trends and Addressing Professional Development Opportunities

by Dorothy Hayden

Our field and the way that we do our jobs 10 years from now will be different from the way we do them today. Last November, I attended a talk by Phil Gardner on recruiting trends. During the talk, Gardner focused on some of the new challenges that employers and career services must address. He notes that employers are less likely to act in an uncertain environment.

Before entering into the information age, employers met potential employees during career fairs and this was likely their only point of contact. Today the search for talent is 24/7 with the advent of ATS, advanced analytics, and social media. For career services, we’ve gone from being the principal provider of information to connectors and consultants (Gardner, 2015). The disruption of innovation is one challenge, but another challenge we must anticipate is the staggering number of retirements that will take place in the next decade by Baby Boomers. Gardner cites a 2010 Pew Research Study saying that about 10,000 Baby Boomers a day will retire. It’s not clear how many Baby Boomers work in career services, but what is clear is that Generation X and Millennials will need to fill the gap in talent. In 2025, the percentage of those born after 1980 will make up around 75 percent of the work force according to Gardner (Gardner, 2015).

You may think that this number seems unreal, but Millennials recently (Quarter 1 of 2015) passed Generation X has the largest population in the workforce (Pew, 2015). With the generational shift, we will need to be adaptive and perceptive to changes in the way that we do our work.

As a millennial, I have been reading about this upcoming generational shift since I was in graduate school. However, I have been challenged to understand how I take the next step in my leadership development. Earlier this month I attended the NACE Management Leadership Institute (MLI) with 65 other career services professionals from around the country. This training challenged my thinking about how I view leadership and it also gave me a bit of a road map for how I can best continue to develop as a leader. Through the MLI, I learned more about the Five Practices for Exemplary Leadership Model developed by Kouzes and Posner in the early 1980s. With this particular leadership model, Posner and Kouzes discuss how we all are leaders but that there are five key leadership practices that exemplary leaders regularly practice in their work. The Five Exemplary Practices are:

  1. Model the way
  2. Inspire a shared vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

During MLI, we received the results of a 360 evaluation on each of these areas. We were told during the training that the average age that an adult receives a formal leadership training is 42. Many larger for-profit organizations, are now adding formal leadership training in the first one- to three-years for their recent college hires. It’s highly unlikely that every office that hires new professionals will be able to provide a structured leadership training for their new professionals. I also know that not every institution has the resources to send their mid-level professionals to attend a formal training like MLI. What can we do? How can we help our profession’s new professionals gain competency and increase their capacities as leaders? I don’t believe that there is a simple solution. I also don’t believe that millennials are the only generation that needs to work on leadership development. We all can gain from improving one or more of the five exemplary leadership practices.

I would like to share some ideas (with minimal costs) that we can use to maximize our leadership potential.

  • Identify your personal mission, vision, and values. When we do assessment in our offices, we frequently go back to our office mission and vision statements. The practice of going through and identifying your career mission, vision, and values statements can help you to begin the process of identifying areas of success and growth.
  • Learn more about the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders: YouTube has a number of videos by Kouzes and Posner on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders. I’ve listed a few of the videos that I have enjoyed below, but I would also encourage you to watch videos that focus on different leadership models, ideas, and styles.
  • Be a mentor/mentee. Seek out people who can teach and advise you in your areas of growth. The surprising thing to me about being a mentee is that there is also an opportunity to be a mentor. NACE offers a Mentor Program, but you can also find mentors within your region, state, or school.
  • Develop a professional development plan. A professional development plan can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. The professional development differs from something like the set of annual performance goals that you do, in that no one else but you is evaluating your success. Items you may want to include: Your current vision, mission, and values plus a set of short-term (one to three months) and long-term (six to 18 months) goals that you hope to accomplish. You can also include smaller goals and check points to keep you accountable.
  • Engage on social media. Do you tweet? Do you use LinkedIn? Do you blog? Encourage the new professionals around you to engage with other career services professionals through social media. One of the Exemplary Leadership Practices is, Inspire a Shared Vision. In order to inspire others, we need more people to contribute to the conversation about the present and future in our field.

I know that this is not a complete list. My goal is to share some information about the shift of generations, encourage you to think about your own leadership development, and consider ways to foster leadership potential within your own organization. Please share your ideas for professional development here and feel free to share your ideas on Twitter as well.

Dorothy HaydenDorothy Hayden, Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, Virginia Military Institute
Twitter: @dorothyhayden
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dorothyhayden

Sources:

Gardner, Phil. “Recruiting Trends 2015-16” Michigan State University: http://livestream.com/msualumni/2015Recruitingtrends/videos/104851985

Fry, Richard. “Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/ April 2015.

Dorothy HaydenDorothy Hayden, Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, Virginia Military Institute
Twitter: @dorothyhayden
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dorothyhayden

 

 

Career Services Programs that Engage Employers

Irene Hillman

Irene Hillman, Manager of Career Development, College of Business, Decosimo Success Center, The University of Tennessee Chattanooga
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/irenehillman

College career fairs can feel like a blur. Hundreds of college students—many of them prepared, but just as many of them unprepared— shuffle in and wander from table to table giving employers their pitch. Employers return the favor and point these young professionals to their websites to apply for positions. It’s a way to build visibility on both sides—company and candidate—but creating a meaningful connection simply isn’t in the cards.

So, how can colleges support the authentic engagement needed for their students to build relationships that will help them launch careers and their employers to gain in-depth access to a targeted and valuable candidate group? Here are some methods being used by the College of Business at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to provide some inspiration.

Take the Freshmen Employer Tour

The Company Tour Program was developed specifically for entering freshmen to help tie them into both the UTC and business community very early on in their college careers. The college develops a schedule of bi-weekly tours for approximately 20 students (lasting one to two hours) into the facilities of the area’s top employers and these students gain access to companies to learn more about the area’s economy, explore potential employers, and network with Chattanooga’s business community in a very familiar and engaging fashion. This encourages students to think about how their degrees can be leveraged and their academic learning can be applied following graduation, motivating them to be better students who are engaged in networking within professional circles of the city.

Invite Employers to Lunch

Through Bridge Luncheons, the College of Business invites businesses seeking a way in which to connect with current students, pending graduates, or alumni to sponsor a business meal. This series brings business students and local or regional organizations together in an intimate setting over a served lunch where candid and interactive dialogue can occur. Typically this is used by companies as a recruiting venue for open positions. Such events are an effective means for companies to spend quality time with multiple candidates at once and serves, in many cases, as a first and simple step in the vetting process. Bridge Luncheons are by invitation only based on the criteria set by the sponsoring companies and students receive e-mails requesting an RSVP if they care to attend. It is also an ideal place to practice business meal etiquette.

Jennifer Johnson, UTC accounting student (Class of 2015), says “The luncheons have given me an opportunity to connect with local businesses and to build relationships with their owners and employees before joining the work force.”

She adds, “I am very thankful that UTC has provided me with the opportunity to participate in these luncheons because they have helped ease my apprehension interacting with potential employers and colleagues.”

As an additional perk beyond assisting students transition from students to professionals, colleges can consider such luncheons as a minor revenue stream since a reasonable flat rate can be charged to companies and remaining funds (after catering and room costs are covered) would be retained to support other career services activities and events.

Pair Students With Professionals

The Business Mentor Program is available to sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate students. Experienced professionals support students who are paired in a mentoring relationship based on common professional interests in order to guide students toward best practices for career success. Valued employers are encouraged to nominate a seasoned professional to the Business Mentor Program. The program provides a great opportunity for professionals to counsel and influence the next generation of business leaders and increase the work force readiness of future recruits. Undergraduates may even engage in the program for academic credit (one credit). The course integrates academic learning with business world application and experiences. Students meet in class for one month to prepare for the mentoring relationship and then pair with mentors for the remaining weeks of the semester.

Use Feedback From the Professionals

The semiannual Resume Week and Mock Interview Week events are another way to help recruiters and students engage in effective networking and develop significant dialogue. During Resume Week, the college seeks out a few dozen professionals (hiring managers or recruiters) whose careers align with the College of Business academic programs and invites them to participate in the event. Students visit the centrally located student lounge with their resumes to give managers and recruiters from participating companies a chance provide their professional opinions through a 15-minute resume review while networking one-on-one with these high-impact business people.

Bios of the volunteers are provided to students so they can plan who they want to meet. We encourage students to dress professionally and bring a business card to make a great first impression on our visitors.

Abdul Hanan Sheikh, UTC human resource management student (Class of 2015),  summarizes the impact that the Resume Review event has had on his career launch: “By attending this event, I received remarkable feedback, which helped me make adjustments to my resume. This event helped me get more engaged in networking effectively. It was a great opportunity for me to make connections with business professionals from around Chattanooga. Furthermore, I believe these events helped me land my first internship last fall and then my summer internship as well, and those positions gave me the experience I needed in HR to feel confident about finding a great job after graduation. So now I have a strong resume and solid experience.”

A month following Resume Week, the college holds a similarly arranged series of events for Mock Interview Week. Not only do students walk away with invaluable advice on developing a robust resume and interviewing successfully, but they get a chance to ask questions about launching their careers to people with realistic answers. And the hope is, as a result, a connection is made and networking flourishes between the student and the professionals with whom they have met.

Engaging with employers need not be an awkward or hurried venture that happens once a semester. When students are provided multiple opportunities for directed networking, relationships can unfold in an enriching manner for our students and our employers!

 

 

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.