To hire more college grads, do we have to fire Career Services?

To hire more college grads, do we have to fire Career Services?

I recently learned that my students have a much better chance at getting a job upon graduation (yay!)…and that my job may be obsolete (huh?!). Earlier this month, I attended a lecture at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City with Dr. Phil Gardner, Director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University, who spoke about his research on 2015-16 recruitment trends. There were several positive trends he highlighted, including:

  • Hiring is up for graduates of four year degrees in computer science/IT and business
  • Hiring is also up for Master degree candidates in accounting or health professions
  • Paid internships are being offered at a record high of 71% of employers
  • 79% of employers who do offer internship programs will hire

Pretty encouraging for a higher ed professional like me who helps oversee our institution’s internship program, right? Well… Dr. Gardner pointed out that career services departments do not make the hiring process efficient for employers (the crowd of career professionals went silent). Though recruiters continue to rely on college career fairs to identify their talent pool, the process is expensive, time intensive, and doesn’t always yield a high ROI. In an economy that rewards replacing the traditional (i.e. taxis) with the new and “improved” (i.e. Uber) – employers are eager to find ways to recruit new hires that are the right organizational fit, without having to duplicate efforts at multiple universities. One such method that Dr. Gardner demonstrated briefly was Knack (www.knack.it), a series of games developed by Stanford and MIT masterminds that can assess potential candidates’ organizational fit – at a very low cost to employers. Brilliant for employers and college grads (the games test innate qualities, thereby potentially evening the playing field for non-Ivy Leaguers) but not so much for us career services folk.

Where I did see the ultimate silver lining is that employers are looking for students with experience (hello, internships!), multicultural perspective/experience (i.e. alternative spring break and study abroad programs, or local opportunities researching or working with diverse cultures), and professionalism. These opportunities and skill sets can’t be automated – and that’s where career services professionals come back into the picture:

  • Career Fair models can be updated, reorganized or deconstructed to better fit the needs of employers
  • Professional etiquette can be taught online to meet students where they are
  • Internships can be coordinated so students are learning and growing, while employers identify and shape their talent pipeline

My takeaway from Dr. Gardner’s research is that our field isn’t irrelevant, but it is evolving. It’s important for us to be knowledgeable about what’s ahead but also recognize our value in higher ed and in society – we prepare students not only for the world of work, but to learn how to advocate for themselves, continue learning and growing in their chosen fields, and achieve financial independence and professional satisfaction. All of which makes me believe that our future is pretty bright.

5 Ways to Nail a Zoom (Online) Interview

When it comes to interviewing, it’s true that practice can make perfect. But with the recent addition of web-based video platforms such as Zoom, job seekers are now finding themselves on the other side of a computer screen instead of a table – many for the first time. Whether you are a recent graduate or seasoned professional, here are five ways you can prepare for a successful online interview.

  1. Don’t let a bad connection create a bad first impression. Nothing ruins a good first impression like a frozen image, especially if you’re caught in an unflattering pose. Make sure to power up and check your internet connection at least ten minutes before your scheduled interview. If the connection is slow, keep your cell phone or landline nearby so that you can call in if needed. It also can’t hurt to position the camera or computer so that you look and feel your best.
  2. Dress to impress – at least from the top up. Your style says a lot about you, even if it’s just your top half. Aim for a creative professional look from the waist up that will capture your interviewers’ attention without making them dizzy. Try bold colors or smaller prints, and avoid stripes if possible. Accessories are a great way to showcase your personality, but be careful – noisy earrings and bracelets can distract your audience.
  3. Gesticulation is not articulation. Controlling hand movements during an in-person interview is important, but on screen it’s absolutely necessary. Depending on the internet connection, your hand or head movements can appear blurry or choppy to the interviewer(s), taking the attention away from what you’re saying – and the great experience you have to offer.
  4. Location. Location. Location. The three rules of real estate apply to interviewing on Zoom or any web video platform. Try to find a quiet space with a clutter-free backdrop. For example, if you’re interviewing in your room or office, take a look behind you and make sure the interviewer’s view is free of clutter and other distracting items.
  5. Smile! Interviews, whether on-line or in person, can be nerve wracking for everyone involved. Put yourself and your interviewers at ease by smiling from the very first moment that you’re connected. Though it may be harder to build a personal connection over the web, this simple yet effective non-verbal communication tool is enough to get the conversation off to a great start.

With these things in mind, you’ll be able to focus on demonstrating how great you are for the job – and how awesome you are with technology!