Virtual Services in the career realm has not existed for very long. Actually, even now, as I speak with my colleagues across the country – it is not a service or education piece used widely in the career services field. In order to create a remote or virtual recruitment plan that supports students, employers, and campus partners at the University of Florida’s Career Resource Center, lots of research and patience was needed to achieve this goal.
Terminology like virtual, remote, distance learning, online, etc. are all terms we hear often, especially when it comes to higher education. In a world of ‘everything should be online’ all of these words are pretty much used interchangeably. So, for the purpose of this post, we will think or define virtual or remote as sharing or assessing information/resources/people from any location.
Currently, at the CRC, we have 11 “virtual services” for students. We created objectives, strategies and goals of how to feasibly tackle creating virtual services for employers and students. We used these steps to help us develop this still in progress virtual services.
1. Benchmark – Looking at what other institutions or similar entities were doing with virtual recruitment. This was easy because there was very little to no information out there from our partner schools in career services. I switched to looking at our recruiting partners, staffing agencies, and other similar companies who were using this resources especially when the economy was not great.
2. Assess — Really taking a thorough look at our current services. I knew the CRC was equipped with known and valuable resources such as Gator Careerlink – our Symplicity system. I looked at everything in the center that was deemed a “service,” such as the check-in kiosk, creating and planning a student appointment, and employer consultation.
3. Set realistic goals – When it comes to virtual services, I very quickly found out that anything that was online or on the internet was being classified as virtual. With the help of my supervisor, and based on the research I had conducted, we created realistic smart goals (EX: focusing on virtual career fairs this year and next year we would focus on virtual information sessions).
4. Development – Develop virtual services by using new resources and vendors. Try new services and platforms here.
5. Train our staff — Change is not always easy or accepted which made this the hardest part. Staff cannot always see your vision. Therefore, we knew we had to train slowly and efficiently on new products, software, and practices. Having the support of the leadership helped greatly when it came to dealing with change and maybe a few pushback moments.
6. Communicate – This is something I still try to do. I tend to forget that my position is new and so is the goal I am trying to achieve. Keeping the staff, employers, and students up-to-date on what was happening and the future was important.
7. Assessment – After each event or semester, I went back to see what was working. I asked myself several questions but, mostly, “was that event or service fruitful?”
With virtual services for students and employers, the landscape is constantly changing and can be overwhelming. I recommend sticking to your goals and purpose to be successful.
The theme for the July #SACareer series is Summer of Innovation! where contributors share innovative programming being developed or executed on their campuses. Tune in all month to be inspired!
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.