Transitioning from a centralized to a decentralized Career Center model can be a culture shock. Pair that with going from a large staff to a very small staff, and the challenges are multiplied. From a new professional, here are some tips for addressing employer needs through a decentralized model.
I came from a centralized Career Center model with an employer relations team dedicated to building relationships, putting on events, and reaching a large student population. The biggest difference coming to a decentralized model with two offices dedicated to serving a small student population was a feeling of competition and confusion. Navigating role confusion is crucial when attempting to build an employer presence on campus. Build a platform for teamwork where you can assess who is responsible for various needs to help eliminate confusion for employers who wanted to connect on your campus. While one office may specialize in a specific population, working together to clarify expectations will be helpful long term.
When you have a small staff, everyone pitches in to meet the employer and student needs. Therefore it is necessary to identify your key players. If you can understand how everyone’s role plays a part in the bigger picture, you can do more with less. Having one point of contact is the perfect place to start. But it’s also about identifying everyone’s strengths to meet all needs. Your employer wants to present in class? Connect them to your contact in this college who has an established relationship with faculty. The employer wants to reach a student organization? Get the student organization’s contact information and build that bridge to connect. Employers want to attend your career fair? Everyone should be on board to support them.
Want to retain employers? Work to ensure employers are getting the best customer service possible no matter which office partnership. By building a common mission or purpose and identifying how each office’s services intertwine, you can provide seamless service to your employers. Career Services is ultimately a business, so benchmark with other successful businesses to achieve your goals. I like to follow the Publix tagline “where shopping is a pleasure”. When you have excellent customer service somewhere, you’ll want to come back, and it should be no different when providing services to an employer.
Of course, we always want to do more to grow and improve. But sometimes it is necessary to take a step back and analyze the current processes in place. Constantly ask the difficult questions you once asked when you were new. Why do we do things this way? Have we tried this another way? Could we learn from others to better meet our constituents’ needs? If you can set guidelines with the idea that everything is open to improvement, you will set yourself up for success and open up doors for new possibilities and opportunities to partner.
In the end, the most important thing is that we serve our “customers” and address their needs accordingly.
Recruitment is upon us. October looks at addressing the needs of our employers to transform the employer experience.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
> BONUS <
Podcast with Mallory Bower on Career Services and Job Search Tips