Career Directors Recommend Students Take Career Courses

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You’ve heard me repeat over and over that grads are clueless about how to find jobs.

It’s not something that I discovered, but it’s something we all unfortunately face year in and year out.  The Career Advisory Board study we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts confirmed this when their survey found that 48.2 percent of career directors did not think grads had the knowledge and skills to get jobs.

They don’t.

The typical grad assumes putting resumes on job boards is the only way to get a job.  Armed with that knowledge (or ignorance), he or she will spend 40 hours a month on job boards and think he or she is effectively looking for a job!

Looking for a job is a full time job and there are dozens of activities and channels grads can use to get a job. Joyce Russell, EVP and president of Addecco Staffing US, reminds graduates:

“Regardless of how the economy is fairing, graduates who proactively pound the pavement well before they finish their studies are more successful in landing full-time jobs after graduation. The students who succeed are those who proactively put themselves out there and build relationships by networking with professors, working closely with university career centers, actively connecting with alumni, and capitalizing on real-world job experience through internships and temporary work.”

Imagine the impact you could have on more graduates’ lives if you were able to gain more of their “mindshare” while in college to give them the skills, knowledge and tools they need to manage their first professional career searches!

We are not born job seekers.  It’s rated as one of the most hated things one has to go through and it is also an area where we invest minimal time.   Nearly every grad makes the same mistakes over and over because they don’t take the time to learn proven techniques and best practices.

The Department of Labor suggests your grads will go through the job search process 11-14 times by age of 38.  Doesn’t it make sense to give them the right tools, the right knowledge, the right skills to get a job?

Career courses are a good start

In fact, the number one solution career professionals offer to increase students’ job search readiness is to require students to take career courses.  The CAB survey reported that 44.7 percent of career directors said the number one way they could help students get ready for their first professional job search is to REQUIRE students to take career courses.   Unfortunately, a very, very small minority of colleges are doing this.   Wake Forest College has implemented a series of courses students can take that provide a strong foundation to build their career strategies.

Heidi Robinson teaches the “College to Careers” course, one of four career development courses available to students.  Robinson indicates student response has been overwhelming.

“There is a saying, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ These students didn’t just come; they conquered. They lined up internships right out of the first classes, and they even networked with each other,” she said, “Seeing their horizons expand so quickly and broadly surpassed our expectations from when we first envisioned this curriculum.”

Building a strategy as comprehensive as Wake Forest’s will take time.

Online career courses will give career professionals more time for one-on-one coaching and counseling with students.   TalentMarks offers career centers an online resume course taught by Martin Yate, a New York Times best-selling career author.  Instead of having to repeat the same information 300 times to students, counselors can now instruct students to take the online resume course, complete the assignments and bring in their homework for a one-on-one meeting with staff.  This encourages students to take ownership of their resumes and provides career professionals an opportunity to provide a higher level of coaching to each student.

Polls conducted by TalentMarks during their Grad Career Marathon found that:

  • 95% of graduates do not have a written career plan.
  • 61% of graduates spend less than 5 hours a week looking for a job.

My take away from this is that grads are clueless about how to find a job.  Because they have not been offered online courses in job search, networking, resume development and interviewing, they are picking up bits and pieces of information from friends, family and the web…and it’s not always accurate information.

Determining if this is the right direction for your college is easy:

  1. First share with management the CAB study and impress upon them that a number of career professionals agree with you that these must be increased.
  2. Determine what kind of curriculum you want to offer to your students.
  3. Provide incentives and rewards to students who participate in the online career curriculum.

Online career courses have the potential to help more students learn the skills they need on their own time and at their own pace, while providing a higher level of personalized coaching by freeing up career advisors’ time.

Let us know your thoughts!


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Don Philabaum
Love to find ways to use technology help more grads and alumni develop successful career strategies.
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum

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