Is your office seeking new ways to engage employers with your career center? Is your career center staff seeking new ways to stay on top of human resource trends and understand what employers are seeking in new hires? If yes, it’s time to consider creating an Employer Advisory Board for your university’s career center!
The Ulmer Career Management Center at the University of Louisville College of Business created an employer advisory board over five years ago. The board serves to engage key employers and have conversations about how to meet both their needs and our students’ needs when it comes to hiring. It has also given us a direct line to some of the top companies in Louisville and someone to turn to with questions. The members of our advisory board volunteer and give back to the career center by helping out with mock interviews, resume reviews, employer panels, and more.
If you’re considering starting an employer advisory board of your own, I would advise that before rushing in, stop, plan and think about the following questions:
- How would you like your board to be structured?
- What is the mission of your career services advisory board?
- How often will you meet?
- Where will you meet?
- How many members would you like on the board?
After deciding what structure best fits your organization, you can begin the next step of selecting members to be on the board. I would suggest that you have a mix of employers, one to two faculty members, and one to two students. Our advisory board currently has 20 members including three career center staff members, one faculty member, and 16 employers.
Select your Advisory Board Members
- Choose employers who are frequently involved and know the office mission
- Select recruiters who focus on recruiting students from your disciplines
- Select faculty who support the mission of career services
- If you choose to invite students, ensure they are familiar with the career center and are an active participant
Prior to inviting members to participate, take some time with your career center team to decide member guidelines.
- What will you expect from your members?
- How many meetings are members allowed to miss?
- How many events and activities will board members be required to attend?
- What is the time commitment and term limit for board members? Are they on the board for one year or longer?
Once your Advisory Board membership is in place, it’s time to set the meeting calendar and create your first meeting agenda. Be sure to decide ahead of time who will run the meeting and who will take the meeting minutes. When building your meeting agenda, consider the following:
- What do the members want from the meetings? Why should they attend?
- Will you have guest speakers at every meeting?
- Ask members for meeting topic ideas
Be respectful of your member’s time commitment and start and finish meetings on time and follow the agenda. After each meeting, have the career center team review the meeting minutes and send them out to all board members in a timely manner.
Managing your Advisory Board
You’ll most likely have 1-2 people in charge of managing the advisory board. I’ve been running our advisory board for a few years now and below are some tips that have helped me manage the board.
- Send a meeting reminder out two weeks prior to the scheduled meeting date
- Send the agenda out at least one week in advance of the meeting
- Ask members to notify you if they will not be attending
- Decide if you will have refreshments at your meeting and make catering arrangements ahead of time
- Create a member directory with everyone’s contact information and share the directory with the membership
- Collect feedback from members periodically to ensure that the advisory board is being utilized the best it can be
It may take a lot of planning in the beginning to get the board started, but once it’s up and running, an advisory board will be beneficial to both the career center and your board members.
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 Paige Erhart at firstname.lastname@example.org.