I constantly hear disappointment from both parents and students about the lack of effectiveness of college career services. As a professional career coach for college students and grads, one of the most common questions I am asked is why the career office doesn’t offer the kind of services and advice that our coaches and programs provide.
After the pandemic, college career centers emerged weaker and less impactful. Frankly, the downshift started long before the pandemic, as virtual approaches to campus engagement started to save companies money and travel time. The post-pandemic reboot caused companies time to rethink recruiting strategies. Organizations have moved away from career fairs and in-person interviews to Zoom career fairs and video interviews. In many cases, screening interviews have been replaced by prerecorded video interviews (like Hirevue) and/or a prescreening online assessment. This has distanced companies from candidates and has introduced several steps in the process before a candidate meets a human.
As a result of this dramatic shift, career centers offer the ability to use online job portals like Handshake to provide access to internship and job postings. Several schools have implemented internal networking portals for students and alumni. But these innovations are not often robust enough to draw student’s attention and they compete with more widely used professional tools such as LinkedIn. Overall, these services are optional, overlooked, and are not sufficient for students who have never gone through the complex and lengthy process of looking for a job before.
Many career centers, after post-pandemic downsizing and budget reductions, don’t have the capacity or expertise to provide long-term career planning advice. Today, fewer than 39% of undergraduates will consult with their school’s career office for advice on finding jobs. That is something schools need to pay attention to given a 2017 Strada-Gallup survey that confirmed that this kind of advice is one of the most important services that these centers can provide.
The challenge for college career centers is to make themselves relevant again by being more knowledgeable about the current job search process and more focused on long term career outcomes. The changing employment landscape puts a greater emphasis on skills over grades, internships over majors, and focused preparation to secure future employment. With over 80% of students indicating that getting a job enters strongly into their decision to attend a particular college, career centers must invest in and create programs that address the new norm in the workplace and help students identify and address their skills gaps. This is particularly important in today’s challenging job marketplace.
Priority Candidates offers programs that encompass strategic planning, tactical skill building, and long-term support that are focused on the desired outcome of finding that first internship or job. Contact us if you can benefit from this type of individualized support, as an earlier start leads to a clear and targeted job search.