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Career Services: Cost Center or Strategic Advantage?


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This recession is different. It will change the approach of young professionals to the work world. It will also change the ways that universities do business, as parents and students demand a high return on their tuition investment in the form of well-paying jobs. Are careers offices ready? How can they become a strategic asset to their colleges and universities? A new model is essential.

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Career Services: Cost Center or Strategic Advantage?

  1. 1. Career Services: Cost Center or Strategic Advantage? Presented by Sheila J Curran Curran Career Consulting
  2. 2. Sheila J Curran <ul><li>Career strategy consultant to colleges and universities </li></ul><ul><li>Career coach for students and graduates </li></ul><ul><li>Former executive director, Duke Career Center, and director, Brown Career Services </li></ul><ul><li>Coauthor, Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path to Your Perfect Career, Ten Speed Press, 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Nationally known writer and speaker on career issues </li></ul><ul><li>Website: </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  3. 3. 6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting “ If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less” -General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, 2003
  4. 4. Senior leadership concerns <ul><li>Value of the Endowment </li></ul><ul><li>Philanthropy </li></ul><ul><li>Financial Aid </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  5. 5. Why worry about graduate success? <ul><li>Matriculation </li></ul><ul><li>Retention </li></ul><ul><li>Alumni Engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Institutional Reputation </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting It affects:
  6. 6. Student point of view 72% of students say Career Preparation is “Very Important” in Enrollment Decision. Source: Key Drivers of Educational Value: Emergence of Educational ROI, Eduventures, Inc., 2006. (N=6,287) 6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  7. 7. Effect of careers on applications Multiple career-related functions are rated “Very Important” or “Important” in enrollment decision. Source: Key Drivers of Educational Value: Emergence of Educational ROI , Eduventures, In., 2006. (N=6,287 ) 6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  8. 8. Source: College Search and the Millennial Generation, Eduventures, Inc., March 2007 (N=7,900) Effect of careers on applications 6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  9. 9. Parental demand for ROI <ul><li>Cost of education at private 4-year college=35K (tuition plus room and board) </li></ul><ul><li>Annual increase in cost of education over 10 years,1998-2008,=5.6% (2.9% over rate of inflation) </li></ul><ul><li>Average salary for new grads between 2004 and 2008 rose only 2.6% a year--at a time when the economy has never been stronger </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  10. 10. The reality <ul><li>Expectations are high </li></ul><ul><li>Students and parents think high tuition=great job </li></ul><ul><li>This year and next will prove to be big disappointments to many </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting What can you do to minimize disappointment and manage expectations?
  11. 11. 2009 Careers by the numbers <ul><li>NACE: 22% decrease in hiring, according to employers (Job Outlook spring update) </li></ul><ul><li>NACE: Only 19.7% of students had jobs at graduation, vs. 51% in 2007 (May, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>BLS: Almost 1.3 million more unemployed graduates in past year (May, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>BLS: Unemployment rate for college grads increased from 2.1% to 4.8% in past year </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  12. 12. Who owns this problem? <ul><li>College or university? </li></ul><ul><li>Careers Center? </li></ul><ul><li>No one: it’s the economy </li></ul><ul><li>If Career Services is not a key part of the solution, it’s likely to be seen as increasingly irrelevant </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  13. 13. How are you viewed? <ul><li>Money </li></ul><ul><li>Influence </li></ul><ul><li>Increased scope </li></ul><ul><li>Transactional or strategic? </li></ul><ul><li>Is your career services office a cost center, or a strategic advantage to your school? </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  14. 14. What do student evaluations say? 6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting Where you fall in this grid is critical, because this is what senior officers use to make decisions. Too many careers offices are rated as not very important and not very effective. Not very important Very effective Very important Very effective Not very important Not very effective Very important Not very effective
  15. 15. What’s going on? 6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  16. 16. Proving your value <ul><li>Do you have metrics and data that support your value proposition? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you have a strategic plan that relates your goals to those of your division and your institution? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you walk the talk? Have you adapted to new economic realities? How proactive are you? </li></ul><ul><li>Take the lead: Tell your bosses what they should expect of you! Value is NOT the absence of negatives. </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  17. 17. Getting on the radar screen <ul><li>Be responsive to student needs: Be ahead of the game </li></ul><ul><li>Address issues or problems effectively at lower level </li></ul><ul><li>Become the catalyst for a university-wide approach to careers </li></ul><ul><li>Generate good publicity for your institution </li></ul><ul><li>If your department was eliminated, would students revolt? In what functions do they see your value? </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  18. 18. 6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting “ Our situation is not unlike General Motors in that our profession has been operating on an outdated model which doesn't necessarily speak to what consumers are looking for. Or how jobs get filled. The one size fits all approach definitely has seen its day.” Skip Sturman, Director, Dartmouth Career Services It can’t be business as usual any more. We have to come up with a new model.
  19. 19. Becoming a strategic advantage: A new model <ul><li>Philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>Mission </li></ul><ul><li>Approach </li></ul><ul><li>Function With the new model supported by the right… </li></ul><ul><li>People and Structure </li></ul><ul><li>“ Everyone has to learn to think differently, bigger…open to possibilities.” – Oprah Winfrey </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting  
  20. 20. Philosophy <ul><li>Linked to education, in and out of the classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Linked to career success beyond the academy </li></ul><ul><li>Linked to student interest and values </li></ul><ul><li>Specific to a particular institution </li></ul><ul><li>You need to be the place that helps students enhance the value of their particular education through information, connections and opportunities. </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  21. 21. Mission <ul><li>Well-defined audience </li></ul><ul><li>Well-defined purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Well-defined goals </li></ul><ul><li>You can’t be everything to everyone, without working a hundred hours a week. Don’t buy into the “mission impossible” syndrome. </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  22. 22. Functions <ul><li>What are core functions? </li></ul><ul><li>Where do you provide unique services? </li></ul><ul><li>What could be outsourced? </li></ul><ul><li>Where could you collaborate for mutual benefit? </li></ul><ul><li>What could you stop doing? </li></ul><ul><li>If another organization can perform a function more effectively or less expensively than you, let go of that function. </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  23. 23. Approach <ul><li>Relational vs. transactional </li></ul><ul><li>Holistic: shared with other advisors </li></ul><ul><li>Pragmatic, proactive, entrepreneurial and adaptive </li></ul><ul><li>Cognizant of what can be done better in person and what better with technology </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative: Build a career community; use students </li></ul><ul><li>Data-driven </li></ul><ul><li>If you’re worried that students don’t use your services, don’t hire a marketing person; concentrate on meeting their current needs more effectively. Build what they want, and they will come! </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  24. 24. People <ul><li>Connectors </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborators </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptive and flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledgeable about education and work </li></ul><ul><li>Experts and generalists </li></ul><ul><li>For most universities, having staff with narrow expertise is a luxury. The future will belong to those who are adept at educating, counseling, relationship building and facilitating opportunity. </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  25. 25. Take Action <ul><li>Take stock: Conduct an honest internal assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be afraid: Request an external assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Think beyond the confines of your office, to how your Center can be a differentiating factor for your university </li></ul><ul><li>Look beyond what is, to how you can enhance career opportunities for your students and graduates </li></ul><ul><li>Find allies, and collaborate across and beyond campus </li></ul><ul><li>Write a compelling strategic plan and communicate it! </li></ul><ul><li>“ When thought becomes excessively painful, action is the finest remedy.” </li></ul><ul><li>— Salman Rushdie </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  26. 26. To be a strategic advantage…. <ul><li>You have to know your value to your students and your institution </li></ul><ul><li>You have to prove your value with data </li></ul><ul><li>You have to communicate your value </li></ul><ul><li>YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO CHANGE! </li></ul><ul><li>“ Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” – Will Rogers </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting
  27. 27. Questions/Reactions? <ul><li>Continue the conversation: </li></ul><ul><li>Sheila J. Curran </li></ul><ul><li>919 599 6207 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>College Career Expert group on LinkedIn </li></ul>6/24/09 Curran Career Consulting