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Letter to Parents: How to Maximize your College Investment for your Student

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Dear Parents of College Students,

As founders of Class2Career, we had an idea.  We saw a gap between one’s personal achievements and the inability to translate those experiences into sellable skills to an employer in an interview.  The interview became a review of one’s resume and the applicant’s real story never emerged.  Great kids with amazing stories were being left behind because they failed to sell themselves and counted heavily on recruiters to get them.

So, we created a tool to coach students how to do this. Whoever uses Class2Career, quickly gets it! This unlocks their confidence and motivates them to want to interview.

We were both in the corporate America space and have done recruiting for companies including our own.  We had never worked with colleges directly, except as recruiters interviewing kids on campuses.   As we went from campus to campus we learned so much of the inner workings of Career Centers.  We want to share what we learned so you will know how your student can take advantage of what’s available because you have paid for it! There is a lot of help and support that is underutilized.

We also want you to be aware of these very important steps BEFORE your student even enters college!

First, just because you spent $100k, $200k or whatever to finance a college education this does NOT mean your student will get a job.  Each college boasts of a high % of students being placed within 6 months of graduation.   Those numbers include students going to grad school, several volunteer programs i.e. Teach America ……Most importantly, these numbers don’t completely quantify MEANINGFUL jobs or a job in their field of study.  You will want to drill down into these numbers.  You have made an investment in this school and you are privy to this type of information.

Now for some facts on the Career Center at your college of choice.  NACE, National Association of Colleges and Employers, estimates today’s College Career Counselor to student ratio 1-1700 – yes – 1 to 1700 meaning this is mission impossible. Now, several schools have made an investment in this to drive this number down in the past few years.  In addition, the Career Center is not the most funded department on campus, yet they hold one of the largest responsibilities to the college’s ROI (return on investment).  Remember Career Services used to be just that….a service. Now with the high costs of a college education there has been a shift to an expectation that students get jobs when they graduate.

The funding piece is slower to come as reallocation of funds must be reviewed, but make no mistake, getting kids jobs is a top priority on all campuses.  The personnel we met in Career Centers are probably the hardest working, most dedicated lot we have ever come across.   But again, they are working on limited resources so, they are judicious in how they spend their dollars.

Here is where your management and involvement come in.  You have to insure your student is maximizing any and all resources available to them to get jobs and internships.

 Many students never engage with the Career Center for these reasons:

On most colleges there is no mandatory meeting with the Career Center before graduation – yes – your student could graduate and never darken the doorstep of the Career Center.

There are only a very small percentage of colleges who offer a Career Development program – Ask this question as you visit colleges.  How do they teach their students how to navigate the getting a job process?  If your student decides on a school that does not have a Career Development Program, how will they learn what they need to do?

Often, a Career Development Program is not mandatory to attend – If there is a program, make sure your student has this as one of their credits.  We would recommend taking the course as early as possible.   The earlier they learn what to do, the more time they will have to practice.

Most upperclassmen who have had little to no success with the career centers will advise their younger peers not to waste their time – Career Centers have a bad rap.  Maybe one day a student went in for help because they had an interview the next day and was told…. you should have come earlier. Boom – the program takes its place on the list of items never to partake in college.  It may also not be COOL to be a Career Center visitor.  Your student needs to understand a relationship with this department is critical to their success.  Employers call Career Centers looking for kids and if your kid is there all the time they will think of him/her.

Several schools do not let students interview for jobs without having a certain cumulative average –

If this is a policy you need to know this upfront.  Some curriculums are harder than others.  For example, someone in the business school may have a tougher time maintaining a 3.5 average over someone in liberal arts.  What that means is a finance student with a 3.0 average may be rejected from interviewing for a finance job; however, a liberal arts major with a 3.5 will be eligible even though it’s not his or her major.

One of the jobs of the Career Center was soliciting jobs.  They would form a relationship with local companies who would use their schools to hire from. When a job was received from an employer then the Career Center would POST the job for students to see.  Over the past several years the trend has been to go to job aggregators like Handshake, Simplicity and several others. You need to know what your student’s school is using and if they have registered.   This is showcased as a positive because now instead of the Career Center posting the job – jobs are now posted online by the employers and visible to all users of the software.  Career Centers can continue to have relationships with hiring entities to drive more jobs to their schools.   This is sold as instead of only getting the local jobs – students will now be able to see jobs posted around the country as employers are signing up for the service and posting jobs on a daily basis.  This is great…..right?…..not really.

What parents and students need to understand is job aggregators do increase the number of jobs….

However don’t forget the pool of applicants just got a lot larger.  Every employer who subscribes to the service is given the opportunity to post their jobs at any school using the aggregator service.  In addition because the employers pay for the service they are given access to see students input when they sign up for the service to include resume, year of graduation, internships, etc. and able to cull the best of the best.  Your student is now competing with all schools for local jobs.

That’s fine – as long as you know this.  Now that you understand what is happening, you must insure your student is positioning themselves in the strongest way they can.  They must focus on getting internships to make their resume appealing and they must also be maintaining a high cumulative average in order to be selected for an interview by an employer.

Although this may all seem elementary, the cry….:”I didn’t know that” is often heard by seniors as they get to their final semester.  It’s too late!

To further exasperate the situation, we’ve learned of the HIDDEN JOB MARKET.  This will really concern you.

More than 60% of jobs on the internet, company websites or job aggregators on college campuses are already filled by the time they are posted.  Employers are using their own employees to bring in qualified candidates.  Where are these candidates coming from you ask?  Parents and students are using their connections in companies and are networking with them to help get interviews with executives in the company.   Meanwhile, your students are madly sending in resumes and calling companies for a chance to interview and his job is going to someone who knows someone. Networking is not widely taught on most college campuses –  yet, it is the most important piece of the interviewing process.

Schools building new buildings are moving to a trend to have the Admissions Office and the Career Center appear to be “connected”.  This is a great trend however in order for it to work they must devise ways to insure students are exposed to the reality of today’s job market and what has to be done to get a job in their field of interest.  Parents and guardians are the real link to getting this to happen.

I know when we sent our kids off to college there was a sign of relief.  We had made it this far and they were now going to college.  Admit it, once you wrote that tuition check, you checked out.  You thought – ok – I brought him/her this far so now it’s up to ABC College to now bring him/her to the finish line.  Hopefully this insight into what is really happening in the job preparation world will enlighten and inform you that your job is not over…..it will probably never be over.  If after graduation your student is living in your basement unemployed, it’s your own fault.  Continue to be the helicopter parent as it relates to insuring your student is choosing a school that supports all aspects of getting a job and all that is offered is being taken advantage of.  I have heard of parents attending college advisory meetings with their students and that is just too much. So, if you are doing that, stop it.   You can coach from afar.  You sent them to college to not only get the education but also the social skills and now the survival skills.  They have to learn this on their own.

Before you make that enormous investment into your student’s education make sure you understand what the school will do for your student.  Without a money back guarantee if not fully satisfied, one must read the fine print and ask the tough questions before writing the check.

Thank you for reading – hope this was helpful!

 

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Help Employers Find You!

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In an interview you have help the employer find you! Who are you……What’s really great about you?

If we were to listen to one thousand job interviews, I would venture to guess that 99% of those applicants would use the same few words to describe themselves – hard working, leader and team player. Even resumes look the same with internships, education, and awards.  If this is true, how does an employer differentiate you from others? They don’t! However, using an attribute and describing it in a compelling story how you exhibited that attribute immediately puts you in a different category. You have set yourself apart! By sharing an experience you are telling your individual story and in many cases that may be the only differentiator.

We are always told by our friends before an interview, “Know your strengths,” but what does this mean.

It means what do you do everyday, what is part of your fiber, that makes you different from others.

Sometimes we don’t know this about ourselves as we have always done things the same way and often don’t look at these traits as being special.  Sometimes we need to talk to parents, family, friends, coaches, teachers, co-workers, bosses and mentors to ask them….”what’s great about me – what do I do that others don’t?”   THAT BECOMES YOUR STORY.  Sure, others could have the same greatness, but it is the story of how you exhibit that strength is what gets you the job you want.

Tell your story! Help employers find you!

Why Can’t Employers find Great Candidates on College Campuses? (or anywhere for that matter)

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Employers are resorting to asking their employees to find great people to join their company.

In some cases cash bonuses are being paid.  Although employers continue to source candidates from schools, it’s costly for their limited recruiting staffs to do college visits.

Career Fairs have always been a great way for students to meet employers and vice versa but it’s no secret how Career Fairs are not getting the attendance they once did.  Students appear disinterested or terrified with the whole process and are taking a stand off approach to job hunting.

Even through job aggregators like Handshake and Simplicity – where students can file their profiles and resumes, and employers can access this information and reach out students – the applicant pool is ENORMOUS. So, average students are getting overlooked and losing competitively to those students with higher grade point averages, market appealing majors, higher pedigree schools and those who have had more internship opportunities.

Unfortunately for those students who DO get an interview, often they are ill prepared and fail at their big time up at bat.  This rejection throws them a curveball they aren’t expecting and they sink lower into “getting a job depression.”

So, what does the average student do to compete.  Yes, the other 75% of the student population – what happens to them?

The Class2Career tool offers all students the inside scoop on how to get interviews and how to insure to put their best foot forward on the interview.  It takes them through an exercise where they formulate their strengths by examining experiences they may have had and then relating those experiences to strengths.  Their strengths are then aligned to jobs and gaps are identified and finally having each student document their experiences to back up their strengths.  In the end the student has written their interview script.

They will be confident and prepapred and it will make a difference on job interviews!

 

Why are great candidates being overlooked for Jobs?

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Students and their parents are faced with a heart wrenching issue – why are their kids not getting jobs or the jobs they want?  Although there is not one reason it’s important to understand all the factors affecting great kids from getting great jobs.

Most colleges have adopted a job aggregator that brings jobs to campus.  This is great as MORE jobs are being presented to students…right…well partially.  Understand these job aggregators like Handshake, Simplicity and so many others are also selling this data to companies who can now work with an expanded pool of applicants.

Example – if you have a business in Minnesota and you want to post a job – you will be asked if you want to post at 400 other schools – oops, the pool just got alot bigger.

Hard working kids and adults trying to better themselves are now going up against applicants from more prestigious schools with perhaps better grade point averages and internships.

Many applicants are taking jobs they don’t want which in the end could be causing the heavy turnover rate employers are seeing.  Essentially, just because there are MORE jobs to choose from, it doesn’t always mean more job offers.

So, what’s the solution?

This is a competition and we have to let students know this.  We do this by giving them the tools to compete.  We coach them through finding themselves and their strengths, we coach them through thinking about stories which support their strengths and we begin to craft their interview “story”. We align those strengths and stories to specific job requirements and most importantly we teach them HOW to get the interview.

Will it take some hustle – sure – but we have to at least let students know the rules of the game.

Interested?  Register at Class2Career.

“Toot your own horn”

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Tooting your own horn isn’t always easy!

Many applicants say they don’t like to “brag” about their accomplishments in an interview.  We get that.

Not everyone feels comfortable talking about themselves and their accomplishments…. and worse saying how you would be better than someone else can be even more uncomfortable.

Many applicants say they don’t want to SELL THEMSELVES in an interview because it’s awkward for them.  We get this too.

But… in an interview, if you tell your individual story about something that you did or accomplished that exhibits your claim about one of your attributes, you have just sold yourself and done a little bragging…. without it even hurting.

This is what makes you unique and helps you to stand out from the crowd. No one else has your story!

Tell your story. Help the employer find you!

The Power of Staying in Touch

Too often we connect with someone from the company where we want to work and set up a time for coffee. We meet them, send the thank you note and that’s it…..we fail to stay in touch.  So why do we need to stay in touch?

You connected with someone at the company you want to work at, right?  After that coffee, they remember you for probably 25 – 30 days.  In the interim they might be approached by someone else for a meeting, or they meet other people looking for positions who do a better job staying in touch.  When the company sends out an internal job posting – you want that connection to remember YOU – not anyone else.  So don’t let a month go by without reaching out to that contact to let them know:

  • You are still looking – don’t make them assume anything
  • Tell them about any accomplishments you have had – great grades, kudos on the job, travel plans – anything that is news worthy. Or maybe if you have read something about the company you could ask them about it. JUST STAY IN TOUCH.  Even if they don’t respond, don’t worry – it might be a one-way convo – who cares.  When that job crosses their desk they will think of you….even if it’s only to stop the emails – just kidding.

After you land the job you want try to keep in touch once a year if you chose to go to another company.  If you are in the same company – reach out every so often to tell them how you are doing and thank them for their help…..you may end up working for them someday!

STAY IN TOUCH

Getting a Job is a Job

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Statistics show it takes an average of 3 – 6 months to find a job.  Some quote it takes 1 month for every $10,000 you are looking to earn.  Getting a job is a job, but with the right amount of attention and focus, like anything, you can get the job you want.  Remember, it’s a journey…..many will tire along the journey and accept a job they really don’t want.  No matter what happens just keep focused.

You may have to do another job, even part-time, in order to pay bills while you search for the job of your dreams.  Be realistic, reduce your expenses, live within your budget as this will put less stress on the process.

Set a least an hour a day aside to network, follow-up on jobs posted on the internet, stay in touch with on-going job pursuits, as well as, staying connected to those helping you in your process.

It’s a process which is why we say, getting a job is a job.