Scaling Career Services Cover

Tackling the 4 Obstacles to Scaling Career Services

“Career-readiness” is more than a buzzword these days, it’s a true indicator of what is expected of today’s colleges. In a survey conducted by The Career Leadership Collective, a number of participants were asked to identify why scaling career services is so important to the lifeblood of an institution. While a number of reasons were chosen, a few stood out:

  • College’s ROI depends on a well-developed career services machine.
  • 1 to 1 career advising is not always feasible in its current form.
  • There is a huge demand for career education, but little resources.

While all those involved could agree that these were a huge driving force for improving career services, many participants found large barriers between executing the dream and staying in the dark ages. Of the 8 barriers identified, the following 4 were found to be the greatest obstacles in scaling career services:

4 Obstacles to Great Career Service

Figure 1: What do you believe is the most significant barrier to scaling career services at colleges and universities? Source: The Career Leadership Collective

Many of these issues may sound familiar—like any business, colleges and universities often face similar struggles. Looking at these four culprits, we’ll listed a few strategies to tackle them:

#1: Become a Change Agent & Identify Your Champions

Change agents are those individuals willing to strategize and execute the big decisions, while identifying champions for their cause to align around a common goal. Identifying change agents within a company or, in our case, a university or college, is the first step in beginning to scale career services.

If you’ve already looked at this blog post, chances are you might be your change agent.

In her Forbes article, 5 Things You Can Do To Be A Change Agent At Work, author Maria Gamb characterized 5 ways to become a change agent at a company. Here we’ve listed four from her original list, while also identifying one of our own:

  1. Rebuild trust among your peers and colleagues. It’s not enough to consider yourself a change agent, you need to gain others’ trust that you would be a leader for their aligned goals as well.
  2. Change your own perception. You might have you own ideas for what you would consider a good strategy for scaling career services, however, you need to ensure your perceptions align with others as well, including your champions, which will discuss next.
  3. Identify your champions. You’ll need to begin identifying your fellow champions. One of the best champions you can get on your side is your Director of Career Services, or any corresponding authority over student life and the career services department.
  4. Decide what’s truly important. Meet with others in your inner circle, including your champions. Write down and provide proof for what the most important changes would be, how they would impact the bottom line and how you imagine implementing them.
  5. Be predictable. Let’s call this the “stick to your story” step. Once you’ve aligned your goals and strategies, you need to “stick to your story” so to speak on how you plan to keep to your goals. This is quite important for gaining credibility with senior staff and decision-makers.

Begin building your case for how to best tackle scaling career services, and start preparing a presentation to show decision-makers. Both this preparation, along with your champions and allies will be important in tackling #2 on our list.

# 2: Breaking Through the College & University Silos

At a whopping 44% of respondents, many universities found “silos” to be the biggest obstacle in scaling career services.

Like businesses, there can be a fair amount of bureaucracy at a college or university that may hold up major changes to scaling career services. In our previous point, we discussed the importance of building a team of champions to help break through the bureaucratic noise of college institutions.

In another Forbes article, author Brent Gleeson, discussed the “silo-mentality” that needs to be broken in order to achieve strategic change. Having a powerful champion can help do just that by creating a unified vision for higher-ups to corral around. They can also help answer the tough questions, which brings us to point #3 and #4.

# 3: Ensuring Quality Career Services Through Scaling

This is probably one of the most pointed questions you’ll receive to try and debunk scaling career services. However, you’ll continue to argue that without scaling career services, quality in career education will most definitely suffer.

“Scaling” can often seem like a dirty word. However, it doesn’t have to be. Nor does it have to be an impossible task. For many universities, the need to scale is inevitable. Research has shown that there is typically 1 career advisor to every 400 students. Moreover, The Career Leadership Collective found that in order to meet most students’ educational and career needs, career service departments would need 3 to 10x the staff.

New technology offering automation of career service tasks have helped tackle numerous obstacles that can greatly alleviate employees and take the department out of the “dark ages”:

  • Student assessments to help align interests with majors by automatically coordinating with school catalogs and possible career paths
  • Career posting and resume management to help soon-to-be-grads with post-college prospects
  • And much more

Awato has helped numerous colleges and universities scale these kinds of services through their automated platform.

# 4: Debunking the Financial Burdens of Scaling Career Services

You can’t afford not to…is more than a sales ploy in this case. If you’ve read any of our previous blog posts you would see the immense cost and impact on student retention that not scaling career services can have.

Career services are vital to vulnerable times in a student’s college life. In fact, first year college students have one of the highest churn rates of any year. Moreover, by utilizing the same technology discussed in the previous section, colleges can invest in the cost of one platform to increase productivity of the staff they currently have.

If you’re interested in learning more about how technology such as Awato can help in scaling career services at your college, reach out here.

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