An Open Letter to College and University Career Centers

Hi there.  You haven’t met me yet… but I and a whole lot of people would like to make your job a lot easier.

We know you are overworked. Understaffed. Not to mention totally stressed out.

And with a best guess, most definitely underpaid.

After all, your job requires being a resource to each graduation year ranging in size from 500 at the smallest to several thousand students.

And quite honestly, that is one tough task… hats are off to the career center staff for pulling it off, year in and year out.  And believe it or not, there are a lot of folks who want to help you.  Honestly, we are not here to tell you how to do your job. We are here to support the hard work that you do.

But along the way, we have noticed something. (“We” meaning career service professionals such as résumé writers as well as human resource managers.)

Some of the materials being used to train students on developing their career credentials is really outdated. As in, like, 20+ years outdated.  Things like ‘objective statements’ are so yesterday.  Many of these documents don’t include keywords. Or include information about hobbies.  And the structure? Wow. Not good either.

Let’s talk turkey.  Ask anyone who has been the recipient of a student résumé lately, and they tell you that these documents are sub-par. Students who are coming out of school right now do not have career credentials that are up to snuff in this job market, which is one of the toughest in recent history.

However, when this was pointed out to career centers with an offer to help, there was pushback.

“We don’t need your help. We’re doing just fine” was the answer we were given.

I’m sorry, but that just is not good enough. Not today.

And especially not in today’s job market.

Employers are having a difficult time ‘digesting’ these outdated résumés which oftentimes means that students’ job searches get stalled out when they get no response to their applications, despite the fact that they are qualified.

By not being willing to embrace updated information on how to prepare career credentials, career centers are doing a disservice to students.  In fact, it is setting the careers of students back significantly by PREVENTING students from getting hired.  The truth is, employers don’t have time to sift through unwieldy, inefficient documents to figure out what students can do for them.  Companies want to cut to the chase, and if it isn’t an easy-to-read document focusing on value, the hiring manager is moving on.

But there is something that can be done.  Résumé writers, employers, and human resource managers are eager to assist you.  We are happy to come and speak on campus to provide up-to-date information. Many folks have written books and might be able to give you a copy or two for your resource center. And career professionals are writing blogs and creating all kinds of valuable content for you to use and adapt the information being provided to students so their career documents can be much more competitive than they are currently.

But here’s the real radical idea to give you what you need in terms of support in the career center from campus administration:

Ask them to send you to a career professional conference so you can learn.  By attending a conference, there are a number of win-win situations that can happen.

  • Students win because they get vastly improved career credentials, leading to quicker placements.
  • Career centers win because they get updated, industry help through the contacts that they meet.
  • Human resource professionals win because they can tap into talent that breaks down student educational careers into digestible vocational applications of those skills and accomplishments.

But the biggest selling point for a career center when trying to make a case to go to a conference is this:

  • Colleges and universities win because their alumni will have accelerated careers and be able to donate back to their alma mater.

DING DING DING DING!  We have a winner!!

Money gets the attention of administrators. Updating student career materials preparation will help them get placed faster, make more money faster, feel satisfied with the assistance provided by the career center, and DONATE back to the school sooner.

What do you think?  Will administrators ‘bite’ on this reasoning? What kinds of resources do you need to help your students?

Please share your thoughts… I’d really like to hear from you to find out how we can help.

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