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Sheila Curran presented to the CDPI fall conference on staying relevant in career services

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Change or Be Changed

Change or Be Changed Demonstrating the Relevancy of Career ServicesCurran Career Consulting for CDPI October, 20101Sheila J CurranCareer strategy consultant to colleges and universitiesCareer coach for students and graduatesFormer executive director, Duke Career Center, and director, Brown Career ServicesCoauthor, Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path to Your Perfect Career, Ten Speed Press, 2006Nationally known writer and speaker on career issuesWebsite:

2Wikipedia: The Great Recession lasted from December, 2007 through June, 2009 Curran Career Consulting for CDPI October, 2010The Great Recession is OVER!

The great recession is over. According to Wikipediaalong with plenty of economic think tanks--were out of the woods. The downturn started in December, 2007 and ended over a year ago.

Well, its true that the banks may be in a better situation, but for those of us in the careers world, were still dealing with the worst job situation most of us have ever seen.

What Im going to do today is an environmental scan of the challenges faced by careers offices and the students they serve. Then, well spend most of time discussing how our offices can become relevant in this very difficult environment.

3Good News from NACE, Job Outlook 2011Curran Career Consulting for CDPI October, 2010

NACE employers project a 13.5% increase in hiring on top of a 5.3% increase in 2010. That follows over a 20% decrease in hiring in 2009. 24.4% of graduating seniors who applied for jobs had one in April, 2010, vs. 19.7% in 2009.There is, of course, some good news:

NACE employers project a 13.5% increase in hiring on top of a 5.3% increase in 2010. That, of course follows over a 20% decrease in hiring in 2009.

More good news is that 24.4% of graduating seniors who applied for jobs had one in April, 2010, vs. 19.7% in 2009.

But, I think we should be a little cautious in interpreting signs of recovery.. The total number of employers surveyed by NACE was 197, only 55 of whom, by the way, were from the midwest.

So how do your students feel about the employment situation?

4The Unemployment Rate for College Graduates under 25 with a Bachelors Degree is close to an all time high, at 9.6%. 17,000 fewer graduates have jobs in September, 2010 vs. September, 2009Curran Career Consulting for CDPI October, 2010

Would your students, thinking about their careers, identify more closely with the emotion on the left or on the right?

The fact is, students are very worried about their futures, and with good cause. Heres why: when most people talk about unemployment rates for college graduates, they are talking about the overall rate which includes young and very experienced graduates. That unemployment rate has been between 4 and 5 percent for most of the past two years. Its a high rate, comparatively, but its not awful.

But look at the statistics for college grads with bachelors degrees under the age of 25, and theres a very different story. The unemployment rate of this group was 9.6% last montheven higher than the same month in 2009. There were, in fact, 17,000 more graduates under 25 who were unemployed this September than in the previous year.

The situation is even worse for those new grads who decided to ride out the economy by getting a masters degree. Masters degree candidates did even worse in the employment stakes than bachelors grads. in September, 2010, they faced a 12.3% unemployment rate.

What do we make of this? I think what the Bureau of Labor Statistics data is telling us is that even though the jobs picture is improving, there is a lot of pent-up demand for those jobs. Our students are facing an increasingly competitive job market. Small wonder then that 85% of them now go home to live after graduation.

Economists expect a very slow jobs recovery, so the class of 2011 has reason to worry. And they need our offices to be at the forefront of helping them find acceptable positions as quickly as possible. We cant hide behind the economic bad news. If our offices cant make a difference to students prospects in bad times as well as good, why are we here?

5Graduate success in finding desirable work or education affects matriculation, retention, alumni engagement, and the reputation of their alma mater. Careers offices must connect their work to important institutional issues.Curran Career Consulting for CDPI October, 2010The Institutional Impact of Careers



Alumni Engagement

Institutional Reputation

Clearly, a best practices career services office affects the lives of its students, and perhaps even its alumni. It also makes a difference to the college or university where it resides. Thats because graduate success in finding desirable work or education affects matriculation, retention, alumni engagement, and college reputation.

So, you might think that the silver lining in all the dire economic news is that presidents and provosts and VPs are finally paying attention to careers offices. In fact, in January 1999, I made a bold prediction to that effect. But, as they say, not so fast.

Have any of you received an immediate influx of funds to help students beat the odds and find fantastic jobs? Are you players at the strategy table with senior leaders? Do you get the sense that your senior leaders want you to do much more than hold the hands of worried graduates?

Later in the presentation, well talk about some strategies to get your point across to senior leaders, but in the meantime, its worth thinking about ways that your Career Services office can contribute to areas that higher education typically believes are much more important priorities.

Your president is likely to care a great deal about how to recruit great applicants, how these applicants can be encouraged to matriculate and the extent to which they graduate within 6 years. Matriculation and retention are major issues these days. And, almost certainly, your senior leaders will be concerned about having successful alumni who reflect well on your college andhopefullyopen their wallets.

Careers offices can have a huge impact on institutional goals, but it will be up to the career director and staff to convince senior leaders of the important role they play.

6Salaries for College grads are not keeping up with inflation, while the cost of education has consistently increased above the rate of inflation. Multiple surveys attest to the importance of career preparation to school selection.Curran Career Consulting for CDPI October, 2010Parental and Student Demand for ROIOverall cost of education at private 4-year college=39K in 2010

Annual increase in cost of education over 10 years from 1998-2008 was 5.6%

Average salary for new grads between 2004 and 2008 rose only 2.6% a year

A colleges success in getting its graduates good jobs is considered very important in college selection by 56.5% of entering freshmen

We have some natural allies in the promotion of excellent career services because students and parents alike understand the importance of career preparation.

Its not surprising. The average cost of private education may come close to, or even exceed the median US household income. Tuition, room and board increases are running2.9% over the rate of inflation.

At the same time, average salaries for new grads rose only 2.6% a year between 2004 and 2008and those were the good years!

Parents and students are worried. And increasingly, they are choosing schools because of their perception that those schools prepare students well for their futures.

What is curious is that after matriculation, there is almost a leap of faith that the school will take care of a students career needs and will have the personnel and resources to do so. If only they knew! But the fact is, most parents groups are not demanding greater services from the careers office.

We are often our own worst enemies, dealing with the day to day, rather than thinking strategically. Typically, careers offices have not been willing to get out there and talk to parents about the employment situation. We have not laid out what their sons and daughters need to do while they are in school to prepare themselves. And, we havent been out there, visibly demonstrating that we can make a difference in their students lives.

Change is essential.7Curran Career Consulting for CDPI October, 2010If you dont like change, youre going to like irrelevance even less

-General Eric Shinseki, Veteran Affairs Secretary


Most people hate change, and I think if you looked at the Myers Briggs profiles of the people in this room, youd discover that career services staff are probably no different from the general population. And, yet, change has to happen. Because career services are already becoming increasingly marginalized on campus. In a recent survey that I conducted of 16 careers offices, not one office had had an operational budget increase, and several had experienced very large budget decreases.

Not only are budgets being cut, but the career services function is being pushed further down the organization chart, often with four layers of management between the director and the president. The reality is, Career Services offices are in danger of becoming irrelevant.

To use General Shinsekis quote which you see on this slide If you dont like change, youre going to like irrelevance even less.

8Career Services offices must make conscious efforts to avoid the fate of the Dodo.Curran Career Consulting for CDPI October, 2010

At this point, there are probably some of you who are saying to yourselves that