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1 A must-have document for every Career Center! Jill Marshall, Director of Career Services at Bryant & Stratton College THE CAREER CENTER MARKETING BLUEPRINT: 6 Steps To Increase Student Awareness, Student Participation, and Overall Support For Your Career Center! Written by Pete Leibman, President of Idealize Enterprises and Creator of The Dream Job College Tour ( 1

2 Notice of Copyright: The Career Center Marketing Blueprint is copyrighted, 2011, by Pete Leibman. All rights reserved. This electronic version is for individual use only. No part of this electronic report may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any other information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of Idealize Enterprises, LLC or its President, Pete Leibman. Material from this report can be used in newsletters with proper citation of Pete Leibman and Idealize Enterprises, LLC. Readers are NOT permitted to post this report online, nor to distribute to other individuals via . If you know someone else who could benefit from this report, please ask them to send an to to request a copy. For more information, please Pete Leibman at 2

3 About The Author, Pete Leibman Pete Leibman has spoken in-person to audiences as large as 4,000+, and he is the creator of both The Dream Job College Tour and The Washington Wizards Sports Careers Day, events attended by thousands of students and high school/college faculty since Despite being told it would be impossible, Pete networked his way into his dream job to work for a pro sports franchise after graduating from college in Less than 2 years later, he was promoted into management for the NBA s Washington Wizards (at the age of 23). He then managed and trained entry-level staff, while being ranked as the franchise s #1 Salesperson of the Year for 3 straight seasons. As President of Idealize Enterprises, Pete has been invited to share his career advice at some of the world's finest academic institutions, including Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University. Pete s mission is to help students and young professionals to get their dream jobs. His first book (titled I Got My Dream Job And So Can You: 7 Steps Towards Creating Your Ideal Career After College ) will be published in spring 2012 through The American Management Association. You can learn more about Pete s work at You can connect with Pete on LinkedIn at You can reach Pete directly at Pete Leibman (back row, 2 nd from right) with students and faculty from Bridgewater College (before Pete s presentation to 300+ students that night on how to get your dream job after college) 3

4 The Dream Job College Tour is a nationwide campaign created by Pete Leibman to increase awareness, participation, and support for Career Centers, while motivating students to be more proactive in pursuing and getting their dream jobs! Through this initiative, colleges hire Pete Leibman to speak to groups about overcoming obstacles to land his dream job in the NBA (in 2003 at the age of 21). Pete s presentations also teach students and young professionals how they can land their dream jobs, even in today s economic climate. After attending a Dream Job College Tour event: Over 95% of students surveyed say they feel more confident about the future of their careers! Over 91% of students surveyed say they are more likely to visit their Career Center! before September 1, 2011 to learn how your college can participate in The Dream Job College Tour! 4


6 INTRODUCTION The transition into the real-world should be one of the most exciting times of a young adult s life, but recent and soon-to-be grads are unfortunately confronted by some alarming realities: 1. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) called 2010 one of the worst years to graduate college or high school since at least 1983 and possibly the worst since World War II. 2. A 2010 report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) stated that the world is in danger of having a lost generation of young people since global youth unemployment has hit unprecedented levels. 3. Nationwide unemployment in the United States is twice as high as it was before the recession began in 2008, and many experts believe it may get even worse. 4. A 2010 Conference Board survey showed that job dissatisfaction has reached an all-time high, with workers below the age of 25 being found to be the unhappiest of all age groups. Given these frightening statistics, it s more important than ever for students to prioritize career planning as early as possible, and Career Centers will continue to play an integral role in helping today s youth become tomorrow s leaders. However, if your Career Center is like most, you have 2 major challenges: 1. Many of your students are unmotivated when it comes to career planning. 2. Given economic factors, your Career Center is probably being asked to do more with less (i.e. less staff, less resources, less financial support, and so on). The solution for both of these widespread problems is to improve the way your Career Center markets itself to students, parents, employers, and other on-campus and off-campus partners. You probably didn t pursue a career in a Career Center because of a passion or talent for sales and marketing. If you work in a Career Center, it s because of a passion and talent for helping students start their careers. Unfortunately, there s a catch. If your students are not aware of your programs and services, or, if they are not participating in your programs and services, then you cannot help them! The objective of this report is to help you increase student awareness, student participation, and overall support for your Career Center SO THAT you can help more students! 6

7 METHODOLOGY The majority of the concepts in this report are based on sales and marketing best-practices that I have learned and developed over the last 10 years. The strategies highlighted in this report are used by major organizations to generate millions of dollars in revenue each year, and they can also be applied to your Career Center s marketing plan. My current mission (and my company s mission) is to help students and young professionals to get their dream jobs after college, even in today s economic climate. As a result of this aim, my company works with Career Centers and other like-minded organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. In order to write this report, I reviewed all the conversations I had with Career Centers over the last year, and I also embarked on a comprehensive research project by interviewing nearly 100 college/university Career Center leaders. I sought out the leaders of career development associations, while also contacting individuals who were recommended to me as being leaders in Career Center marketing. I also made sure that I interviewed a broad spectrum of schools. More specifically, this included representatives from some of the best schools in the world and representatives from schools ranked much lower. This also included representatives from some of the biggest schools in the world (i.e. 50,000+ students) and representatives from much smaller institutions (i.e. less than 1,000 students). I also targeted schools in urban settings, suburban settings, and rural settings. During these interviews with Career Center leaders, we discussed major challenges and key objectives for the next 1-2 years. We also discussed 3 specific areas: 1. How to increase student awareness and participation in Career Center programs and services 2. How to build bigger and better relationships with employers 3. How to leverage social media platforms to communicate with students, alumni, and employers While this report is written as a blueprint, your Career Center will ultimately have to take the ideas and concepts and apply them to your particular setting. A 25-employee Career Center clearly has different needs and resources than a 1-employee Career Center. A Career Center located in New York City clearly has different needs and resources than a Career Center located 200 miles away from any major cities. A Career Center for a top 10 college clearly has different needs and resources than a college ranked much lower. Having said that, after integrating all of my research and marketing/sales expertise, I identified 6 steps ANY college or university could take to increase student awareness, student participation, and overall support for its Career Center. Let s get started! 7

8 STEP 1: BE STRATEGIC Great marketing starts with a great strategy. If you were to run around in a circle for an hour, you would be exhausted, but you would not have gone anywhere. This is also true when marketing. Certain activities will take you much further than others. A great strategy will save you time in the end, give you a sense of control, give you greater focus, and ultimately result in better performance. Understand Your Audience Unlike a business that can choose who it wants to serve, a Career Center has to work with the audience it has been given. Before designing your marketing plan, you have to understand your target market for your programs and services. Most Career Centers serve Generation Y populations (teenagers and twenty-somethings), so let s start with a description/refresher of this audience. (I refer to Gen Y as we since I am part of this generation.) Here are 6 traits which broadly characterize Gen Y: 1. Tech-savvy: We have grown up with the Internet and technology, so we understand it much better than older generations. 2. Cause-oriented: We want to be part of something meaningful. We want to have a significant impact. We want to change the world because we believe we can. As a result, we don t always like to do menial tasks or dirty work. We aren t lazy. We ll work hard if we believe in the importance of what you want us to do. 3. Opinionated: We want you to ask for our opinions. We don t want to be talked at; we want to be conversed with. The Internet has given us a forum to express ourselves, and we expect you to hear us out. If we like something, we ll tell everyone we know. If we don t like something, we ll tell everyone we know. 4. Impatient: We have been conditioned to expect fast responses and immediate results because we have grown up in a fast-paced, technologically advanced society. As a result, we want what we want and we want it NOW. It s not our fault. Technology has made us the way we are. 5. Easily distracted/bored: Because we are impatient, you better cut to the chase, or you will lose our attention very quickly. We don t want to be lectured. If you want to keep our attention, you better involve us in any presentations or conversations, and you have to make everything fun and interactive. 6. Skeptical of older generations: We really value what our peers have to say, and we don t always like to listen to older generations. (If you have kids who are part of Gen Y, you really know this to be true!) It s worth noting that this characteristic is not unique to Gen Y; it s part of the reality of growing into adulthood. Every generation before us was the same way during their teens and twenties as well. 8

9 When you look at these traits, you should not see anything that surprises you. You work with students every day. However, if your Career Center is like most, you are NOT designing your marketing outreach with your audience in mind. Don t get frustrated about some of Generation Y s negative traits (i.e. impatient and easily distracted/bored) and don t try to change us, because you can t. Embrace who your audience is, accept their negative traits, celebrate their positive traits, and design your programs and outreach for your audience. You Have to Change Their Thoughts Before You Can Change Their Lives People know what they should do, but that does not mean they will actually do it. Being overweight or obese significantly increases your chances for developing heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer s disease, and a host of other mental and physical disorders as you age, and nearly 80% of all colon, breast, and prostate cancers are linked to diet and lifestyle factors. These statistics clearly illustrate the importance of a healthy lifestyle. As a result, you would expect that everyone would be certain to eat the right way and to exercise consistently. However, over 70% of the U.S. is overweight or obese! Is this because overweight/obese people are not aware of the importance of eating healthy and exercising? Of course not. Instead, most people are overweight for 2 main reasons. First of all, it s because they have chosen (usually subconsciously) to ignore the long-term, negative consequences of repeating behaviors that feel good in the short-term (i.e. eating junk food or watching tv on the couch). Secondly, most people are out of shape because they don t believe they can get into better shape. As a result, they don t bother trying. Our motivations (and subsequent actions) develop as a result of our associations and thought processes, most of which we are not aware of. In brief, if you avoid something, it s because you have subconsciously or consciously linked it to more pain than pleasure. On the other hand, if you pursue something, it s because you have subconsciously or consciously linked it to more pleasure than pain. Students who are not participating in your programs and services are falling victim to the same self-sabotaging thought processes as unmotivated exercisers. It may sound strange, but most students are not using your Career Center because they are linking your Career Center to more pain than pleasure (again, either subconsciously or consciously). More specifically, when they think of your Career Center, they are thinking the thoughts on the left side of Figure 1. Your marketing needs to get them to think the thoughts on the right side of Figure 1. 9

10 WHAT MOST STUDENTS THINK WHEN THEY THINK OF THE CAREER CENTER: I ll think about my career at the end of my senior year or after I graduate. I don t need to do anything now. This Career Center program looks boring. I ve got a lot of other things I d much rather be doing. This Career Center program looks irrelevant to me and was clearly sent to the entire campus. There is no hope for someone like me. Why should I even bother thinking about my career and visiting the Career Center? No one else goes to the Career Center s events. Why should I go? This looks really complicated and overwhelming. Doesn t the Career Center realize how busy I am? This looks like a waste of time. Why do I need a fill-in-the-blank anyway? I ve already got enough people giving me unwanted career advice and lecturing me on what I should be doing. I ll pass on the Career Center. I don t want to admit it, but I m afraid of life after college. I d rather not think about it by going to the Career Center. WHAT YOU WANT STUDENTS TO THINK WHEN THEY THINK OF THE CAREER CENTER: I didn t realize how much of my success/happiness after college would be connected to what I do in college. Thank you for the wake-up call. This Career Center program looks fun! I m in! This Career Center program is EXACTLY what I need! This looks like it was created just for me. Wow, other people like me have succeeded. Maybe I can, too! I should visit the Career Center. All of my friends will be there. I should go, too! This actually looks pretty simple. I can do this! I didn t know a fill-in-the-blank could help me get my dream job. This looks like it would definitely be worth my time! The Career Center actually seems pretty friendly and supportive. I should check them out! I didn t realize how amazing my life could be AFTER college. I m excited about working with the Career Center to take control of my future! Figure 1. Thought processes of your students. Before your programs and services can change students lives, your marketing has to change their thoughts! Keep reading to learn how. Sell Benefits Great marketers sell benefits; poor marketers sell services and features. Like any customer, students don t care about what programs or services you offer (your features); they care about the results they can achieve by participating in your programs and services (their benefits). Most Career Centers make the mistake of talking only about their services and the features of what they offer, and they fail to highlight what positive benefits their customers (i.e. your students) could experience by using their services. 10

11 Paint the picture on what you can help students achieve if they work with you. Don t tell them that you can help them write a better resume (your services/features). Instead, show them what they can achieve if you help them write a better resume (their benefits). This may sound like a small distinction, but it makes a HUGE difference. If you don t tell people the benefits of your programs/services, they won t take the time to identify them on their own. Let me illustrate this with a health and fitness example again. Would you be more excited about attending a nutrition seminar on how to design a healthy meal plan (feature/service), or a nutrition seminar on how you can easily eat your way to a 6-pack and a healthier, longer life (benefits)? It s a no-brainer! Stop selling features and services. Start selling benefits. Create Interest and Urgency With Calls-To-Action You never want to force people to do something against their will, but you must have a call-to-action for every marketing touch-point with your customers (i.e. your students). A call-to-action is when you tell your customers what you want them to do next. If you have given your customers great value, but fail to tell them what to do next, you are actually doing them a disservice by not having a call-to-action! There are 3 universal ingredients to an effective call-to-action. First of all, your call-to-action must be clear. If people don t know what you want them to do, they will do nothing. Give people too many options, and they will select none of them. This is one reason why you should not be sending s to your students listing 17 different programs they could participate in. Secondly, your call-to-action must be easy. If it looks like a lot of work, people will do nothing. Lastly, your call-to-action must be compelling. If people don t see the benefit of taking action, they won t. Here are 4 ways to create effective calls-to-actions with students: 1. Use prizes and food to increase participation. When I worked in the NBA for the Washington Wizards, it always amazed me how excited people would get during timeouts at our home games. The mascot and dance team would come on the court and throw rally towels and t-shirts into the crowd, and people would go absolutely crazy. We had customers sitting courtside that were spending $1,000 per ticket per game and making millions of dollars a year, and these men and women would practically knock each other over to try to win a $2 t-shirt! The moral of the story? People love to win prizes, and the prizes do not have to be very valuable. That s especially true with students, so use prizes in all of your programming and marketing. As for food, you can provide pizza, bagels, candy, chocolate, coffee, whatever! It doesn t matter. Feed them, and they will come. Angela Doty, Associate Director of Career Services at George Fox University, told me that her office sends s to students the week before their birthdays inviting them to the Career Center for their free birthday muffin. She said the response has been great, and the muffins only cost 50 cents each from Costco. 11

12 Note: companies will often provide prizes and food for you in exchange for the opportunity to get in front of your students. As a result, you don t have to pay for the food and prizes out of your budget in many cases. Don t just target employer partners for this. Local businesses are often very interested in building their brand with your students, and many are happy to donate gift certificates or other items for your events. Have you reached out to them? 2. Use contests to increase participation. We ll discuss social media later on, but I d like to highlight now that you should be using prizes and contests for social media as much as possible. That s one of the best ways to build excitement around participating on those platforms. For example, Matthew Brink, Director of the Career Services Center at University of Delaware, told me about a video contest they did where students were asked to film a creative video testimonial for the Career Center. The winner(s) got a cash prize, which was donated by one of the Career Center s sponsors. Delaware could also use the testimonials in their marketing efforts, which we ll discuss later on. That s really great marketing, and a promotion that many businesses could actually learn from. Very cool and very effective! 3. Use deadlines to increase participation. You can also tie this in to prizes. It s great that you are there for students whenever they need you, but there is no urgency. You should include deadlines for signing-up for programs and/or give prizes to the first x number of students who participate, or for students signing up by a certain date. Just don t expect students to register too far in advance. 4. Set limits to increase participation. Value is all about supply and demand. If supply is low and demand is high, value goes through the roof. In other words, people value programs more when participation is limited. You should set limits for your programs to make them look more valuable. If more students want to participate after you reach the limit you set, then just open up another program(s)! You might think that some of these tactics are unnecessary, but they get results. Again, the more students who work with you, the more students you can help! Segment Your Students And Them Accordingly Another key component of being strategic is to tailor your messaging and segment your students into different categories. Pat Mullane, Executive Director of the Career Center at Dickinson College, credits targeted marketing as one of the most effective ways his Career Center raises student awareness and student participation. This is a fundamental marketing strategy that is effective for any organization. You should be segmenting your students into categories and communicating with them differently based on factors such as the following: 1. Class year: For example, seniors should be receiving different messages from the Career Center than freshmen. 2. Major: For example, history majors should be receiving different messages from the Career Center than business majors. 3. Prior participation: For example, a senior who has visited your office 4 times should be receiving different messages from the Career Center than a senior who has never visited your office. You must treat existing customers different than potential customers. Julie Willoz, Executive Consultant of Willoz Consulting (and 12

13 formerly with Tulane University), highlighted the effectiveness of this segmentation strategy for Career Centers. Segmenting your database is a big challenge for many businesses that lack extensive data on their customers. However, you have an advantage at a college because your school probably already has a lot of data on the people you serve. You don t need 172 different categories for your students, but this is an area that is definitely worth exploring. Put yourself in a student s shoes for a second. Wouldn t you be more likely to participate in a program or respond to an that looked like it was just for you, instead of a message that was clearly -blasted to the entire student population? Make sure to use enticing subject lines for s sent to students as well. Great subject lines lead to much better open rates for marketing campaigns. For example, an entitled Career Center Newsletter is obviously much less likely to be opened or read than an entitled Stop by the Career Center for a chance to win an Ipod. 13

14 STEP 2: BUILD SOCIAL PROOF Your best marketing will not come from your Career Center; your best marketing will come from your satisfied customers and from other individuals and groups who see the value in what you do. The principle of social proof states that when people are unsure what to think of a product or service, they look to the opinions of others to form their conclusions. Word-of-mouth advertising happens when you do great work, but you need to take some actions to cultivate it as well. Utilize Testimonials and Success Stories After having viewed hundreds of Career Center web sites, I can say that very few schools prominently feature student/alumni testimonials on their web sites and marketing materials. Not doing so is a HUGE mistake. Success stories should be front-and-center in every marketing touch-point you have (i.e. web site, fliers, social media sites, and so on). Success stories sell! When you use compelling testimonials from students/alumni you have helped, you prove that your programs and services work. However, all testimonials are NOT created equal. Here are 5 secrets for tapping into the power of student/alumni testimonials to build positive social proof for your Career Center: 1. Use benefit-driven testimonials. Generic testimonials, such as The Career Center is great are not effective. Use testimonials that highlight the benefits others have experienced through working with your Career Center. For example, consider the power of a testimonial like: The Career Center helped me connect with an alumnus from ABC College, and that connection ultimately helped me get my dream job to work for XYZ Company. Visit the Career Center today to learn how they can help you get your dream job as well! 2. Use testimonials to overcome common objections. Great testimonials overcome common objections (i.e. the thought processes listed on the left of Figure 1 on page 8). Testimonials that speak to your audience s thoughts processes and concerns are insanely effective. For example, consider the power of a testimonial like the following: I was pretty nervous about life after college, so I avoided the Career Center during my first 3 years because I didn t want to think about having to get a job. However, one of my friends finally convinced me to check out the Career Center, and I immediately wished I had visited them sooner. They helped me be more confident, and they helped me develop a plan for getting the job of my dreams! Don t wait like I did. Make sure you visit the Career Center today! 3. Use testimonials to promote specific programs or services. Collect specific testimonials for every program or service you offer, and then use those testimonials when promoting each individual program or service. If you are promoting an upcoming Career Fair, for example, consider the power of a testimonial like the following: 14

15 The Career Center helped me prepare for the Career Fair, and it was well worth it. I met a recruiter from ABC company at the Fair, and I knew exactly what to say because of the coaching I got from the Career Center. As a result, I just got a great offer to work for ABC Company starting in June. Make sure you visit the Career Center and check out the Career Fair as well! 4. Use video testimonials. Students love watching video, and video testimonials are much more compelling than text testimonials because they include body language and tone. 5. Broadcast your testimonials everywhere. You should be using strategic testimonials in every marketing touch-point you have, whether that s a flier, your web site, your social media platforms, your newsletters, and so on. Powerful testimonials and endorsements from satisfied students and alumni are the best marketing weapons a Career Center has. Get your happy customers to brag for you, so you can focus on what you do best: counseling and helping students succeed! Identify Student Influencers On every campus, there are certain students who have influence. These are the students who seem to know everyone. Other students look up to these influencers, and they will follow their recommendations. Identify the student influencers on your campus, and form partnerships with them. Here are 4 great sources: 1. Leaders of student clubs (i.e. greek organizations, honor societies, service groups) 2. Student-athletes 3. Student media (i.e. newspaper writers, bloggers, hosts of campus radio shows, etc.) 4. Resident advisors Try to convert these students to ambassadors for your office even if you don t formalize the relationship by hiring them as student workers. You can do this by helping them raise awareness and support for their own organizations/missions, and by incentivizing them (i.e. with prizes, contests, etc.) for promoting your programs and services. By getting support from 3 carefully selected student leaders, one small college in Illinois (with a total enrollment under 1,500 students) got over 200 students to attend a keynote presentation I made on their campus in That would not have happened if the Career Center Director marketed the event by herself. Hire the Right Student Ambassadors and Peer Career Advisors Many schools credit student ambassador and peer career advisor programs as being among the most effective ways to increase student awareness and student participation in Career Center programs and services. If you want to have a successful student ambassador or peer career advisor program, you first have to hire the right students. Here are 5 traits that were repeated by colleges with great success in this area: 15

16 1. Well-connected: Hire students who have influence on-campus (see page 13). Look for students who are tomorrow s networking superstars. Relationship-building and connecting is in their DNA. You want the students who know everyone, the ones who other students will listen to and follow. 2. Self-motivated: This is a trait any employer should seek. There is nothing worse than an employee who is lazy. Hire students who work hard. 3. Passionate: Hire students who are very enthusiastic about career development and the mission of your Career Center. Employees who believe in the mission of their employer are much more self-motivated than employees just looking for a paycheck. 4. Good public speakers and communicators: Hire students who enjoy speaking in public. You should be using these students to represent you in various settings on-campus, so they better be comfortable speaking in front of groups. 5. Savvy with social media: Hire students who are active in the major social media platforms and who have an interest in marketing your center through them. Your Career Center must have a strong presence and understanding of how to leverage these platforms in today s economy. More to come on this later. When you hire the right people, these programs will run much more smoothly. Not every student worker needs to have each of the above traits, but a well-rounded staff should. Motivate Student Workers Like a Sales Staff Hiring the right people is just the first step. Then, YOU have to you keep them excited and focused. I was highly motivated when I worked for the NBA s Washington Wizards. Part of it was due to my innate desire to be my best and the fact that I had gotten my dream job. However, my motivation was fueled further because of how I was managed. Here are 4 tactics that you should use to get the most out of your employees as well: 1. Establish clear, reasonable goals. When I worked in sales for the Wizards, we had very quantifiable, achievable goals for every month of the year and for the entire season. We all knew exactly what was expected of us and how our performance was being measured. Our VP even had a huge board outside of his office that was updated daily to list everyone s sales number for the year. 2. Offer performance-based incentives. We had rewards for hitting our monthly and annual goals, including financial bonuses and all sorts of other cool prizes. Management would also throw in an occasional daily or weekly sales contest to ramp up excitement even further. During my time with the team, my performance won me Courtside tickets to games, a trip with the team to an away game, a free lunch with the GM, and some sizeable financial payouts. While your Career Center probably can t offer the perks that an NBA franchise could, you don t need to! Free food and small prizes will work just fine for a college student. This is important. Rewards will produce results. 3. Include student workers in decision-making. Treat student employees with respect by asking for their opinions and incorporating their suggestions into your programs. My generation HATES to be micro- 16

17 managed, so give your student workers some freedom. (If this concerns you, you didn t hire the right people!) Employees work much harder to support programs they have helped to create. 4. Appreciate and recognize performance AND effort. No matter what anyone says, we all like to be appreciated and recognized in front of our peers in a positive way. When I worked for the Wizards, I always said I didn t like recognition. Guess what? I was lying! I LOVED collecting monthly and annual Salesperson of The Year Awards in front of my colleagues. Everyone wants to be appreciated and held in high regard, and this is especially true during your teenage years and your twenties when status is really important. Recognize performance AND effort for your employees every chance you get. This is the most powerful management strategy of all. In summary, motivate your employees like a sales staff, and they will run through brick walls for you, regardless of how old they are. 7 Secrets for Building Affiliate Partnerships Affiliate marketing is an advanced marketing strategy used by many of the world s best marketers, and you can tap into its power as well. In short, affiliate marketing is when you look for complementary people/groups who have relationships with and influence over the audience you want to reach. Then, you offer them incentives to endorse you to their audience. Who already has the ear of your students? Many Career Centers mentioned to me that they struggle to get as much support as they would like from other departments on-campus. However, here are 7 themes that surfaced among Career Centers getting great support from affiliate partners: 1. Prioritize: You can t build a deep relationship with every faculty person on-campus, so spend your time connecting with the ones with the broadest, deepest influence on your students. Here are some of the best sources for affiliate partnerships: a. Academic advisors, full-time professors, and adjunct professors b. Athletic departments/coaches c. Student Activities/Student Affairs d. Greek Life Advisors e. Orientation Committees f. Parents 2. Customize: If you try to build relationships through mass communication efforts, you will not be met with warm responses. When a faculty member gets an that was sent to the entire staff, diffusion of responsibility sets in, as each person assumes that someone else will respond. Relationships can only be built one at a time. Attend meetings as often as possible where you can get face-time with key stakeholders. Adjust your messaging based on who you are talking to. For example, the athletic director should hear a different message from the Career Center than a history professor should. 17

18 3. Clarify: Most people on your campus (and most parents) probably have no idea what the Career Center really does, where it is located on-campus, or what programs/services you have to offer. You have to educate your affiliate partners. Be very clear about what you do (and what you don t do), and be clear about how you can help other departments, and how they can help you. Take the lead, but encourage other departments to share their ideas as well on how you can join forces to help students. 4. Simplify: Don t bombard partners with 57 different ways to work together. Keep it simple, and be easy to work with. 5. Quantify: Use data to illustrate the effectiveness of your office. Whether you track student satisfaction, actual job placement, student retention, or other metrics, use numbers as much as possible. Highlight different statistics based on who you are speaking to. 6. Brag: Show success stories and testimonials from your students and alumni. Again, personalize this based on who you are talking to. For example, if you re talking to the athletic director, share stories of results you have achieved with student-athletes. 7. Reward: Show your affiliate partners what s in it for them by teaming up with your office. How can you make their lives/jobs easier, and how can you help them achieve the results they seek? Approach potential affiliate partners the right way, and they will be much more likely to provide marketing support (and financial support) for your Career Center s programs. 18

19 STEP 3: STAND-OUT AT HIGH-TRAFFIC LOCATIONS In 2010, I attended a seminar with one of the best Internet marketers in the world, Tom Antion, and he said something that really resonated with me. He said that if you want to drive Internet traffic, you should not try to bring the traffic to you. Instead, you should go and stand where the traffic already is. This is true for a Career Center as well! How strong a presence does your Career Center have at the high-traffic locations on your campus? Speak at Classes and Group Meetings When I first started my research for this report, I was asking Career Center leaders for their most effective way to drive traffic to their Career Center. One of the most common responses was classroom presentations. (Note: I changed my question after some initial research and started asking for the most creative ways schools were driving traffic.) Many schools also spoke about success in driving traffic through presentations at meetings for major student groups on campus (i.e. fraternities, sororities, Business clubs, honor societies, and so on). These are pretty obvious strategies. However, Kathy Pykkonen, Director of Career Services for UW-Superior, had an interesting twist on teaming up with professors and classes. She actually creates career assignments (i.e. a mock interview assignment or a resume writing assignment) and has selected professors assign the projects to students. Then, Kathy has one of her trained assistants grade the projects for the professors. This is a great example of partnering with faculty to help students achieve greater career success. It is also a great example of being easy to work with; she isn t creating extra work for the professors since her office grades the projects. Make sure you are being proactive about getting into as many classrooms and group meetings as possible. Do not wait for faculty or student leaders to come to you, and make sure you give them plenty of notice so they can plan their calendars accordingly. You should be reaching out to faculty before the semester starts. Another common best-practice is the don t cancel your class promotion where career center staff are on-call to serve as substitute teachers if/when a professor is unable to teach class. You can also partner with professors to give students extra credit for participating in Career Center programs. Whenever you speak in classes or at group meetings, make sure your presentation is very interactive, and always end with a clear, easy, compelling call-to-action to continue your dialogue with students. Use Career Carts at Other High-Traffic Locations Another great idea suggested by many colleges is to create a Career Cart and to wheel it around campus to various high-traffic locations (i.e. cafeterias, student lounges, recreation centers, and so on). Entice students to 19

20 visit the cart by offering prizes and/or food, and staff these carts with your student ambassadors because students will be much more likely to come over and talk to their peers. As always, make sure you have a call-toaction for anyone visiting the cart. Open Dialogues at Orientation I got mixed reviews from schools about participating in Orientation. Some schools thought it was too early to market the Career Center, and some schools were worried they would not be able to handle student traffic if a lot of students visited their offices after Orientation. (If you have concerns about student traffic, your call-to-action could just be for students to like your Facebook fan page. More to come on that later.) I believe it s a huge mistake not to have some sort of presence during Orientation. Career Centers who participate in Orientation raved about the results. When else will you have the opportunity to market your office to all of your new students and many of their parents? Make sure you keep it very casual when you participate in Orientation. Students are already overwhelmed with everything else going on, and they don t want to be bombarded with career advice yet. You should definitely use your student ambassadors as the face of your office at these events since peers will be much less intimidating to new students. Stand Out In Stalls This was one of the most creative marketing ideas I heard. Pat Mullane, Executive Director of The Career Center at Dickinson College, told me that his office has a bi-weekly, 1-page newsletter called The Toilet Paper that is posted inside every stall on campus twice a month. When students are surveyed on how they heard about The Career Center, this is always one of the top responses. It s not sophisticated, but it gets the job done. Several other schools also mentioned great success with a similar idea. It s hard to miss! Figure 2. The Toilet Paper is posted inside of stalls at Dickinson College each month. Become a High-Traffic Location 20

21 How easy is your office to find? I spoke to several schools that recently moved their Career Center office because students had trouble finding it. What about moving your office to a location that already gets a lot of student traffic? Andrea Lipack, Associate Director of Employer Relations at Stony Brook University, also shared a great branding idea that increases student awareness and traffic. Stony Brook branded their Career Center with a zebra theme, and they have a student who wears a zebra costume around campus and to Career Center events. The Career Center also painted a walkway leading up to their office with zebra colors (see below). When Stony Brook markets the Career Center to students, they tell them to follow the Zebra Path to get to their office. The Zebra Path also creates intrigue for anyone walking around campus. Figure 3. The Zebra Path to the Career Center at Stony Brook University in New York 21

22 STEP 4: CREATE COOL EVENTS Many Career Centers are confused about why students don t attend their events. However, if you really think about it for a second, it is pretty easy to understand why this happens. I want you to pretend you are a student for a second: You are somewhat overwhelmed with a schedule full of classes, homework, and projects. You probably also have an awful part-time job (or 2 or 3) that you absolutely hate. The Career Center keeps ing you about attending one of their events in your (limited) free time. None of your friends go to the Career Center s events, and you don t understand why it s important for you to be thinking about your career, since you aren t graduating for what seems like an eternity. Without realizing it, you ask yourself what else you could be doing instead of attending the Career Center s next presentation on Effective Elevator Pitches. You subconsciously think about how you could be hanging out with friends in your dorm room, going to a sporting event on campus, surfing the Internet, updating your page on Facebook for the 11 h time of the day, watching the latest episode of The Jersey Shore, or checking out another event on campus that simply looks a lot more fun (i.e. a hypnotist, magician, or musician). This time, you opt for the episode of The Jersey Shore. Apparently, Snooki (a character from the show) gets punched in the face in this episode, and it sounds really funny! Be honest, Career Center employee. What would YOU do if you were presented with all of those options and only able to select one? You have to understand what your Career Center programs are competing against. Being surprised that students don t want to attend a resume workshop is like a nutritionist being surprised that a sweet tooth would rather eat ice cream, chocolate, or cheesecake instead of a bowl of spinach! Even sweet tooths know that spinach is better for them in the long-term than ice cream, chocolate, or cheesecake. However, that doesn t mean they are going to choose the spinach. The people who need to eat spinach the most are the people least likely to eat it. Same goes for students attending your programs You won t get most students excited about their careers by offering resume workshops or cover letter seminars. You can only get them excited by inviting them to events that look cool. (You also have to market the events the right way, i.e. follow steps 1-3). Make it sound fun, and they will come! I recently read a discussion in LinkedIn where a Career Center director said she changed the title of a program, and she tripled the attendance of her event the next year without making any other marketing changes! 7 creative ways to make your events cool 22

23 1. Tie in with pop culture: Tie your events in with TV shows, blockbuster movies, celebrities, and so on. Billie Streufert, Director of Enrollment Management at University of Sioux Falls, wrote a phenomenal article for the National Career Development Association (NCDA) on this topic. You can read it at: Here are some other ideas. Instead of having an Interview Workshop, what about a program around The Apprentice with someone dressed up as Donald Trump where students do mock interviews and compete to be hired or fired? (You could also just dress as Donald Trump and stand outside of your office as Dave Broza, Interim Director of Career Services at Bethel University, once did!) Instead of having a Job Search Seminar, what about doing a program around The Jersey Shore entitled What s the Situation With Your Job Search? (Note: If you don t watch The Jersey Shore, you won t get that joke. I promise that will be my last Jersey Shore reference in this report!) Instead of doing a presentation entitled Effective Elevator Pitches, what about doing a program spoofing The Shark Tank where students could practice elevator pitches to alumni serving as the sharks? You get the idea. These types of programs will be 10 times more enticing and inviting than the traditional programs most schools are offering. Note: you don t have to know what s hip in pop culture to create these programs. Just ask your student workers. 2. Tie in with sports: While working for the Washington Wizards, I created an annual event called The Washington Wizards Sports Careers Day. The event was hosted at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. (where the Washington Wizards play). Students and faculty would come to the arena on a Friday afternoon and listen to me and several other executives from the team as we talked about careers in sports. After our presentation, students would participate in other fun activities, and then they would get to watch a Wizards game that night. In our 5 th year running this program, we had almost 5,000 students attend, many of whom came from more than 200 miles away for the event! And, it wasn t free. Every person in attendance needed to buy a $30 ticket to get access to all of the day s events. How did we get so many students to attend? We just did everything in this report! We created an event that was cool/fun, we included prizes and food, we used great speakers, we recognized groups who participated, we cultivated peer evangelists (using selected student leaders), we built affiliate partnerships with key faculty at schools and organizations in Maryland, DC, and Virginia, and we created urgency to register and participate through contests, incentives, deadlines, and limited availability. You might not be able to create an event as exciting as a Career Day at a pro sports arena. However, why not do something similar on your campus (or in your area) by teaming up with affiliate partners or other organizations to include your Career Center in a sporting or social event that students would be excited to attend? 23

24 Figure 4. NBA Star, Antonio Daniels, is shown here, as he talks to a group 5,000 students and faculty at the 2007 Washington Wizards Sports Careers Day. of Even if you don t create a special event, you can still tie in with sports for your standard programs. Art Taguding, Executive Director of Career Services at Stevenson University, told me about programming he ran last spring around March Madness and the Final 4 where the Career Center had brackets for their programs to coincide with the NCAA Basketball Tournament in March and April. You could also do events around The Super Bowl, The World Series, The Kentucky Derby, The Indy 500, or whatever is big in your area or on your campus. 3. Tie in with holidays. What about creating programs based around certain holidays, like Halloween, Valentine s Day, and so on? Carmen Croonquist, who works in Internship Development for University of Wisconsin-River Falls, mentioned that one school did a Mardi Gras theme entitled Flash Your Resume, Get Some Beads! Doesn t that sound much more fun than a Resume Workshop? 4. Tie in with fashion: Instead of a Dress For Success event or an Etiquette Dinner, what about doing a fashion show with students? Huntingdon College in Alabama got such an event sponsored by Banana Republic, and students attended (through their own choice) from a campus of less than 1,500 students. Again, students came because it was FUN. Stevenson University also did a Fashion On Trial event where they had an executive from Jos. A. Bank serve as a prosecutor on what to wear and what not to wear. The event was setup like a courtroom setting to make it more entertaining. 5. Host Speed Networking Nights. Many schools are doing speed networking nights for students where they bring back local alumni in a specific field or from various fields. Students love the interaction, and it often results in job/internship opportunities. 6. Create Industry Weeks: Mike Schaub, Executive Director of The Career Education Center at Georgetown University said he s gotten great participation from students through Georgetown s Industry Weeks. They have several Industry Weeks each year based on career trends and based on student feedback. 24

25 Through these programs, they have 1-2 programs a day for an entire week. For example, you could do a Journalism Week or a Sports Marketing Week or a Fashion Week. 7. Develop Entrepreneurship programs: Several schools have recently started Entrepreneurship programs. University of Miami won an award from NACE for their work. Samara Reynolds, Career Advisor at Duke University, also told me about a program that Duke is starting for aspiring entrepreneurs. You probably have lots of students interested in starting their own businesses. Are you catering to them as well? You probably also have lots of alumni entrepreneurs who would love to talk to students about their journeys and businesses. Again, what about a spoof of The Shark Tank where your students could pitch ideas to alumni entrepreneurs who would serve as the sharks? The bottom line: make it fun, and they will come! Again, you don t have to figure out what s hip on your own. Your student workers can tell you. 4 Secrets for Bringing in the Right Speakers for Your Events Many schools increase student participation for their events by bringing in speakers from off-campus. It s nothing personal against your Career Center, but career advice sounds different from someone who students don t have access to at all times. Here are 4 musts in selecting speakers from off-campus for your events: 1. Speakers MUST be dynamic. Speaking effectively in public is a skill that very few people have, and an activity that scares most people to death. Just because someone is a highly successful alum, an HR director of a great company, or has even written a career advice book does not mean he/she will be engaging in front of a live audience, especially one as easily distracted as college students. Many of the world s most brilliant people could also be listed among the world s most boring speakers! Make sure you view a video clip of a speaker before you invite him/her to speak on your campus. If you are bored watching the clip, you better believe your students will be bored watching the person live. One boring speaker could be very damaging to the brand of your office; on the other hand, one amazing speaker could be great for the brand of your office. 2. Speakers MUST be/look young. Students are much more likely to connect with and be open to advice from speakers who look/seem like them rather than speakers who remind them of their parents or grandparents! As discussed, Gen Y really values recommendations made by peers and is skeptical of advice from older generations. 3. Speakers MUST have marketable professional backgrounds. Students are much more likely to attend programs by speakers currently/previously affiliated with popular international brands than they are to attend programs by speakers from companies without major name recognition. Wouldn t you be? This is why most schools struggle to get students to attend events where the main attraction is an HR representative from a local business that students have never heard of. 4. Speakers MUST have a great story. Stories sell. Stories are memorable and impactful. In today s economy, students need and want to hear from speakers who have overcome obstacles to achieve career success. Job search do s and don ts are definitely important, but inspiration is lacking in most career development presentations. Give your students hope for a better future by bringing in people who have 25

26 succeeded against difficult odds! Remember: you have to change their thoughts before you can change their lives. 4 Ways to Get Funding for Professional Speakers Many Career Centers would love to hire a professional keynote speaker for an event, and they think they lack the budget to do so. Even though my point of contact for a speaking engagement on a college campus is usually the Career Center, it s pretty rare that the Career Center covers the investment associated with my programs. Instead, Career Centers usually sell the value of my program to affiliate partners who actually sponsor most or all of the event. Here are 4 of the most popular sources of funding that Career Centers use to invest in my programs and those of other professional speakers: 1. Corporate partners/sponsors 2. Alumni/donors 3. Other departments on campus (i.e. athletics, student affairs, student activities, academic departments) 4. Student groups (i.e. Greek organizations, honor societies, business clubs) Many entities on your campus have budgets for bringing in entertainers (i.e. comedians, hypnotists, or musicians) or budgets for speakers on more serious topics like sexuality/relationships, drug and alcohol awareness, and so on. Why not tap into their budgets for a career development event? 3 Tricks to Build Momentum Before and After Events With Speakers When you work with a speaker from off-campus, it s important to build momentum before AND after the event. Here are 3 tricks to help you have a bigger impact at and after your events: 1. Include a personal touch from the speaker. Have the speaker(s) connect with key students and faculty BEFORE they come to campus. This personal touch goes a long way in encouraging key students and faculty to advertise the event and was very instrumental in how I set an NBA record by getting 5,000 students to attend my Washington Wizards Sports Careers Day event in For example, I reached out to one student leader directly, offered him some perks for advertising the event, and promised individual recognition for him and his organization before and during the event. The result? He ended up rallying over 1,000 students from his organization to attend (again, at $30 per person)! 2. Get endorsed publicly. Have the speaker(s) highlight the value of your Career Center s programs and services during their presentation. When an outside source recommends your services, you get a compelling testimonial that builds social proof for your office. 3. End with a call-to-action. Speakers should end their presentations with a call-to-action connected to your Career Center (i.e. telling students to like the Career Center on Facebook or to schedule an appointment with the Career Center, etc.) As always, make the call-to-action clear, easy, and compelling. 26

27 These have always seemed obvious to me, but very few schools implement these 3 steps when bringing in speakers from off-campus. If nothing happens after a program with a speaker, it s probably because your event was missing 1 or more of these 3 components 27

28 STEP 5: CONNECT WITH EMPLOYERS THE RIGHT WAY Another key component of raising support for your office is to have more partnerships with employers and better partnerships with employers. This can lead to more job/internship offers for your students, more networking opportunities for your students, and more financial support for your office. If you work for a college that lacks major name recognition among college recruiters, if your student population is small, and/or if you are located in a remote area, it can be especially challenging to connect with employers. I interviewed several top recruiters from major companies like Ernst & Young and PWC, and I also interviewed leaders in the employer relations space as well. There were 2 major best-practices that surfaced from this part of my research. Approach employers like a job-seeker SHOULD Many Career Centers are ironically making the same mistakes reaching out to employers that inexperienced jobseekers do. Avoid 6 of the biggest job search mistakes, and your employer outreach efforts will improve significantly: 1. Focus first. The shotgun or mass-mailing approach doesn t work for job-seekers, and it won t work for Career Centers either. Just like a job-seeker should a start a job search by identifying a target list of ideal employers, your Career Center should have its own target list based on the types of companies that are the best fits for your students. Start with a target list, and then focus on building relationships with those companies. This was cited as a reason for success by many colleges with great employer partnerships. 2. Be a solution. Most job-seekers are only concerned about how employers can help them, and they fail to focus on how they can help employers. Is your Career Center making this mistake also? Don t focus on how employers can help you. Identify what your ideal employer partners need. Then, show them how your students can solve their problems. Recruiters often complain to me that colleges try to jam students down their throat who are not good candidates for the problems they are trying to solve. 3. Personalize. As discussed throughout this report, any type of marketing, relationship-building strategy is much more effective if it is personalized. Reach out to employer partners 1 at a time, and make sure to adjust your message based on the company you are talking to. One of the biggest turn-offs to employers is when Career Centers (or job-seekers) don t really understand what they do. 4. Take action. When I speak to groups of students about how to get your dream job after college, one of my key messages is that you shouldn t expect an employer to come to you and hand you your dream job. It doesn t happen, no matter how talented you are. Instead, if you want your dream job, you have to go out and get it. (That s how I got my dream job in the NBA at the age of 21!) It s the same principle for Career Centers. If you want bigger and better employer partners, you have to go out and get them. The schools with the best employer relationships are all very proactive in pursuing and developing these relationships. 28

29 If you don t have the sorts of relationships with companies that you d like, you need to take more of the right actions. 5. Use your connections to get in. Most job-seekers also fail to leverage their existing connections and affiliations during their job searches. Is your Career Center making this same mistake? The best way to get in with an employer partner is through the people who you already have relationships with, such as alumni, donors, parents, professors, and the other affiliate partners highlighted in step Meet in-person. Another huge job-seeker mistake is spending too much time in front of a computer screen and not nearly enough time with people who could help you get the job you want. How much time does your Career Center devote to meeting employers in-person? It s hard to build trust and rapport (2 keys to any professional relationship) without meeting with people face-to-face. Participate in professional associations that are comprised of employers you want to connect with. Some examples include NACE (and its state/regional chapters), local SHRM chapters, chambers of commerce, and other associations for industries relevant to your students. There is an association for everything you could imagine. Identify the associations that make the most sense for your students to be involved in, and make sure your Career Center has a presence in those organizations. Even better, get someone in your Career Center to take on a leadership position in these organizations to increase the visibility of your office. You can also invite a targeted association to host one of their events on your campus. Jennifer Wilson- Spataro, Director of Career Services at Shenandoah University, said this has been a great way for her to get quality face-time with potential employer partners without her having to go off-campus. Offer meeting space on your campus for free, and associations will love you. You can also join networking groups on LinkedIn for relevant associations. Treat employers like VIP Customers Other than the fundamental courtesy of returning s and voic s promptly and being very pleasant and easy to work with, here are 2 advanced customer-service strategies I learned from my time in the NBA. These tactics will take your employer partnerships to an even higher level: 1. Touch your employer partners the right way. The sales department for the Washington Wizards had a touch-point management strategy for the entire season so that we could touch our customers throughout the year. We didn t want them to feel like we only contacted them when their bills were due, so we had a system in place to connect with them all season long in a variety of relationship-building ways. We sent holiday cards and birthday cards, we visited them at home games to say hello in-person, we invited them to private events at the arena and at other venues, we brought prizes to their offices, and so on. The process changed based on the value of the customer (i.e. we treated a company spending $100,000 a year differently than a company spending $2,000 per year), but the goal was always the same. We wanted every single customer to know how much we appreciated them and their business, and I have all sorts of stories of how effective this was. Treat your employer partners like friends, and make sure you aren t just reaching out to 29

30 them when you need something. This sounds basic, but it s easy to take existing relationships for granted, especially when you are understaffed and busier than ever, as you probably are right now! 2. Slam-dunk your best employer partners every year. We also had a customer service strategy called slamdunk moments where we would have 1-2 actions each year that were highly personalized steps where we went above and beyond to show our best customers how much we appreciated their business. For example, I once brought a 3-foot tall bobble-head (signed by one of our All-Stars) to one of my VIP customer s offices. It actually looked a little creepy, but you should have seen the reaction I got from him and his staff when I rolled it into his office lobby! It was like I had dropped off a box of gold. (The reactions I got on the train ride to his office were also pretty memorable.) You don t need to spend a lot of money to show people how much you care. Most of our slam-dunk moments cost us nothing or very little, but they were tremendous for strengthening relationships with our customers (and getting them to spend even more money). 30

31 STEP 6: EMBRACE SOCIAL MEDIA I asked the schools I interviewed which social media platforms they were using and what impact these tools were having on their ability communicate with students, alumni, and employers. In general, very few schools said that they were achieving great results with social media. However, most schools also admitted that their lack of success was due to a lack of understanding on how to utilize these tools. Social media is so new and evolving so rapidly that most Career Centers are completely baffled by how to integrate them into their marketing. Heck, many major companies don t really understand how to use these platforms! It s understandable if your Career Center has concerns about social media or is unsure how to utilize it. However, if you do not tap into the unlimited power of social media now, you and your students will fall WAY behind the Career Centers who are. Get Sold on Going Social If your Career Center is not sold on social media, here are 5 amazing stats that should change your mind: 1. According to social media experts, Lewis Howes and Sean Malarkey (creators of the 500 Milllion Strong social media system), 96% of Generation Y members have an account on at least 1 social media web site! 2. Howes and Malarkey also report that 80% of companies use social media for recruitment! 3. According to Facebook s Press Room, Facebook has over 500 million active users worldwide: if Facebook were a country, it would be the world s 3 rd largest (behind China and India)! 4. The average Facebook user spends almost an hour on the site every day! 5. According to LinkedIn s Press Room, over 100 million people have profiles on LinkedIn, and a new member joins the site every second of every day, on average! Here are 3 qualitative reasons why your Career Center MUST embrace social media NOW: 1. Communication. Millions of people use Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, and Twitter every single day, and this includes your students, your alumni, and your current/potential employer partners. Social media platforms allow you to initiate and continue conversations in ways that have previously not been possible. 2. Research. The amount of information publicly available on employers and industries through these platforms is simply amazing. 3. Price. While many social media platforms offer premium (i.e. paid) membership options, Career Centers can benefit from free memberships on all of the major sites. In a time when budgets are tight, a free communication/advertising tool is a beautiful thing! 31

32 11 Universal Social Media Best Practices for Career Centers Books could be written (and have been written) on how to use each of the major social media platforms. The purpose of this section is to give you a crash-course on how to utilize these tools to improve your Career Center s performance. There are plenty of social media tricks that will not be covered in the next 5-10 pages. However, if your school follows these 11 best-practices (and the bonus tips included for each of the big 5 platforms), you will be WAY ahead of the curve. Like any tool, if social media sites are not used correctly and consistently, they will not work. Most Career Centers don t have the foundation right on social media, and that s why most are not getting great results. Here s how your Career Center can achieve social media success: 1. Start smart. Before your Career Center begins using any social media platform, you should determine what your goals are, how you will measure your performance, who your target audiences are, how you want to brand your Career Center, and who will oversee/update your account. Don t let this scare you off; you don t need to spend 6 months creating your social media strategy, and you can t map out everything before you start. However, if you have some direction first, you will have much more success. 2. Make participation enticing. If students are not liking your fan page on Facebook or commenting on your blog posts, for example, it s because you haven t given them a compelling enough reason to do so. Unfortunately, students aren t going to like your fan page or follow you on Twitter, etc., just because they can get great resume tips or job updates there. As we have discussed, people don t always want what they know is good for them. Like anything else, you have to entice people to participate in anything your office does. Refer back to the rest of this report for ideas on how to do that! 3. Keep it casual. If you come across as too stiff, you will lose students very easily on these sites. Other than LinkedIn, the #1 professional networking site, keep your social media accounts casual. Schools (and companies) who have great social media engagement with students are those who make it really fun! 4. Rely on students. Let your student workers help you set up these sites, let them help you develop content, and let them help you market your accounts to other students. You don t have to give up all control, but you do have to step back more than you usually do. Students will tell you how they want to be communicated with on these sites, and they will do a MUCH better job marketing them to their friends than your counselors can. 5. Communicate at the right frequency. You wouldn t send 10 s to your students in 1 week, but some Career Centers are taking this approach through social media. For example, one Career Center (who shall remain anonymous) recently made 10 Facebook fan page posts in the span of 1 hour to promote 10 different Career Center events! That s a great way to overwhelm and irritate your followers. In general, communicating with your followers one time per day is the maximum frequency you should use. (Twitter might be an exception.) 6. Foster conversations and participation. These tools work best when they encourage discussion, participation, sharing, and so on. If you talk AT students, you will lose them; get them to contribute and participate through prizes, contests, by asking questions, by asking for their opinions, etc. 7. Integrate efforts. When using multiple platforms, make sure all of your sites are part of a master social media plan. In other words, your sites should complement each other and not compete with each other. 32

33 Gary Miller, Assistant Director for Social Media and Innovation for University Career Services at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also recommends Career Centers check out for managing and updating multiple platforms from one web site. 8. Follow others. Check out Facebook fan pages, LinkedIn groups, Twitter accounts, and so on for other Career Centers (and other non-profits or major companies) to see how they are using their accounts. You don t need to figure it all out by yourself; just watch your peers and incorporate what you like into your efforts as well. Most information is publicly available to anyone on these sites, so you can actually see social media campaigns and strategies being used by other organizations. Personally, I follow many individuals and organizations just to see how they are using social media for their marketing. 9. Focus on Facebook. While a Career Center can benefit from each of the big 5 platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, You-Tube, Blogs, and Twitter), you should definitely focus on Facebook. Since the number of students using Facebook is significantly higher than any other social media platform, you ll get the biggest bang for your buck on that site. As discussed earlier, if you have too many calls-to-action (i.e. Hey students, make sure you like us on Facebook, join our LinkedIn group, follow us on Twitter, read our blog, AND watch us on You-Tube ), students will be overwhelmed, and they will ignore you altogether. Dominate Facebook first, and gradually add in other platforms as you go. If you try to be a social media jack-of-all-trades, you will be a master of none. Many Career Centers are diluting their results because they are unsuccessfully trying to have success with too many platforms at 1 time. In the recently released, best-selling book, The New Rules of Marketing &PR by David Meerman Scott, even the author (one of the world s best social media experts) admits that he does not use some of the major social media platforms for this very reason. 10. Don t fall into the black hole. Social media participation can become a huge waste of time IF you let it. Use your time very carefully. I actually keep a stopwatch on my desk and time all of my activities with social media. As one of my mentors Mark LeBlanc says, work shorter and sharper. Keeping your social media accounts open on your computer all day long will destroy your productivity for everything else you are trying to do. Do NOT do that. While we are on the subject, don t keep your Outlook inbox open all day long either! Just check it every hour or at several predetermined times each day, and watch your productivity go through the roof. 11. Stick to it, and be realistic. Just like the January fitness enthusiast who stops working out after not losing 20 lbs. in a month, most people give up on social media sites before they have had a chance to be effective. Give them a chance, and results will follow. In summary, your Career Center will have success with social media if you follow the recommendations from the rest of this report! In other words, be strategic, make it fun and interactive, get students and affiliate partners to help you with marketing, and so on. 7 Facebook Tricks for Enhancing the Performance of Your Career Center Facebook should be the foundation of your social media strategy. Here are 7 ways to have greater success through this site: 33

34 1. Set up a fan page. There are 3 ways to create free accounts on Facebook: as an actual person, as a group that people can join, or as a fan page that people can like. Some Career Centers have set up accounts as actual people, which students would then have to become friends with. This is actually against Facebook rules, and one Career Center Director told me Facebook made them shut down their account for doing this. (Students probably don t want to be friends with the Career Center anyway. Sorry to break it to you!) Make sure not to set up your account as a group either. If you set it up as a group, you can send messages to the Facebook inboxes of everyone in the group (which you cannot do with a fan page), but your status updates will not show up in the news feeds of people in your group. If I lost you, here is the bottom line: groups are much less interactive than fan pages, which is the opposite of what you should be aiming for with your presence on Facebook. 2. Provide incentives for liking your page and participating. Many schools do contests (i.e. fan of the week) and offer prizes to students for liking the page and for participating in the activity of the page. 3. Get a vanity URL for your page. Go to and create a personalized URL for your Career Center s page. Many Career Centers don t realize they can personalize their URL for their fan page rather than keeping the really long URL s Facebook assigns automatically when you set up your page. If you are using the URL Facebook gives you, you can t give students the exact address for your page, which creates an extra step for them to find you on Facebook. Get a vanity URL (the easier to remember, the better and the shorter, the better), and then you can mention the exact address for people to find you. For example, the URL for your fan page could be You just need 25 fans to do this. 4. Post pictures and videos from your events and/or of your students and alumni. It s much more fun than just posting status updates that are 100% text. You can also tag the people in these pictures and videos. 5. Promote your events through Facebook. Student ambassadors can come in handy here to invite their friends, and this often leads to better results since students get the invitation from their peers rather than from the Career Center. Another great perk of promoting an event on Facebook, if you marketed the event correctly, is that students can see which of their friends are attending. 6. Use your fan page for your calls-to-action. You can drive students to your page when you meet with them individually or in groups, and you can also drive them to your fan page in all of your other marketing materials, i.e. your fliers, newsletters, and so on. It s easier to do this when you have a vanity URL as mentioned above. 7. Advertise on Facebook. You can also pay for very targeted advertising on Facebook to promote your fan page and/or your events. The targeting on Facebook is really slick because you can have your ads appear only on the pages of your current students or alumni of certain ages. Several schools told me they were pleased with the results from this advertising, and it s very cheap to test it out. It s not as good as getting your peer evangelists to spread the word for you, but it will help you connect with some people you might not otherwise reach. Check out to learn more. You can also visit and for more tips. 2.5 LinkedIn Tricks for Enhancing the Performance of Your Career Center 34

35 LinkedIn has its limits for interactive communication, but it is unrivaled in terms of facilitating alumni and employer connections and doing research on employers, industries, and other Career Centers. Here are 2.5 ways to have greater success through this site: 1. Participate in LinkedIn groups. You can join groups on LinkedIn that other Career Center professionals and leaders in career development will be involved in. Most are free and open for anyone to join. By joining these groups, you can receive daily or weekly updates on content-rich discussions that are already happening on many topics relevant to your Career Center. You can also post questions for others career center leaders to respond to. For example, if you want to know how other schools are getting their students to like their fan pages on Facebook, you could just post a question on one of the discussion boards for a relevant LinkedIn group. Another trick I occasionally use is to search through the archives of prior discussions to see if my question might already have been covered in a prior discussion. There are thousands of groups in LinkedIn, so do some searches to see what other groups make sense for you. If you are part of a professional association, they probably already have a group in LinkedIn that you could be participating in for free. There are also informal groups as well that are run by individuals rather than associations. Here are 7 of the most relevant, largest, and most active LinkedIn groups for Career Center professionals: (a) Career Services Professionals (b) Career Counselor Technology Forum (c) EACE (d) Midwest Association of Colleges and Employers (e) National Association of Colleges and Employers (f) (g) National Career Development Association Southern Association of Colleges and Employers 2. Conduct targeted employer research. As discussed in Step 5, one of the best ways to build employer partnerships is through your existing connections (i.e. your alumni). LinkedIn can really come in handy here. For example, let s say I worked in the Johns Hopkins University Career Center, and I wanted to establish a relationship with National Geographic. I could do a search for people currently employed by National Geographic who attended Johns Hopkins University (see below). I actually did this search and found 24 JHU alums currently working for Nat Geo, so I would have 24 in s to the company. (Note: this is also a phenomenal strategy for job-seekers, and one of the many social media tricks that will be covered in my job/career advice book due out in early 2012!) 35

36 Figure 5. A screen-shot for a LinkedIn search for JHU alumni working for Nat Geo. You might be wondering why this is necessary, and why I wouldn t just ask the JHU Alumni Office which alums work for Nat Geo. However, check this out. Figure 6 shows a screen-shot from an I got from LinkedIn in January Apparently, 210 of my LinkedIn Connections (I had about 1,000 connections at the time) changed jobs in 2010 alone. Do you think those 210 people actually told their alumni offices or Career Centers that they changed jobs? No way! However, they did take the time to update their information on their LinkedIn account. Bottom line: your alumni office has NO IDEA where most of your alumni work right now. You probably have some in s to companies that you and your alumni office don t even know you do. You can find them through LinkedIn Figure 6. A screen-shot of an I received from LinkedIn in January

37 2.5 Bypass Some of LinkedIn s New Privacy Features. You may have noticed some of the new privacy features LinkedIn recently added to their site for people who just have free accounts, rather than premium (paid) accounts. In particular, when searching through LinkedIn with a free account, you can t always see the last name for people coming up in your searches. You also cannot reach out to some people directly through LinkedIn, and this is an obstacle. The loophole is It s a free web site where you can use points accrued on the site to buy contact information for millions of professionals worldwide. Very cool web site. Check it out. It s also a great tool for a job-seeker! Last point on LinkedIn Even though your alumni office has no idea where most of your alumni work, you should still partner with your Alumni Office on anything you do with LinkedIn. They may already have some efforts in place, and you don t want to double up efforts unnecessarily or have them feeling that you are going around them. 3 You-Tube Tricks for Enhancing the Performance of Your Career Center Very few Career Centers are utilizing online video sites, such as You-Tube, in their marketing and programming, but those who are RAVED about its impact. This should not be surprising. Students love to watch TV. Here are 3 ways to have greater success through this site: 1. Use You-Tube for student/alumni testimonials. Film your students/alumni talking about the positive benefits they have received from using the Career Center, and then post these videos onto You-Tube, and link to them on your web site and your other social media accounts. 2. Use You-Tube for student contests. As mentioned earlier, University of Delaware had a contest where students could film creative videos talking about the benefits of the Career Center. Other colleges have also utilized this creative promotion. Visit for a hilarious (and effective) video entry submitted by some of Delaware s students. 3. Use You-Tube videos in presentations to students. Videos break up a presentation, and make it more fun. It s really easy to embed an entertaining You-Tube video into PowerPoint. Just google how to embed a youtube video into powerpoint and you ll get a series of videos and articles on how to do it. Remember that you will need Internet connection where you are speaking, or the video will not play. As a result, you should test it out in the room you are speaking in before your presentation. 6 Blogging Tricks for Enhancing the Performance of Your Career Center There were not many schools singing the praises of blogs during my research, but they are pretty easy to set-up, and they can be promoted through your other platforms (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). Here are 6 ways to have greater success through blogs (i.e. Wordpress): 37

38 1. Let students write about their experiences. Students are much more interested in reading blogs about peer experiences than they are in reading career advice from much older counselors. 2. Ask readers to participate. Readers will not assume you want them to comment on or share your blog entries unless you tell them. Be direct. 3. Use images and videos. Blogs that are 100% text remind students of their textbooks. Not a good thing. Make your blog entries more reader-friendly by including pictures and videos. 4. Be concise. Readers go to blogs for short entries, not for pages and pages of content. Keep blog entries under 500 words as much as possible. 5. Use bullets, lists, and catchy titles. This makes the blog much more reader-friendly and makes the reader curious. People judge books by their titles, and they do the same thing with blog posts. For example, even if the content is identical, a blog entry entitled 7 Ways LinkedIn Can Help You Get Your Dream Job will get a lot more interest than a blog entry entitled Using LinkedIn to Get a Job. You can also create a title by using a question and list together, i.e. Are You Making These 7 Deadly Networking Mistakes? Wouldn t you want to read that? 6. Include a call-to-action as a P.S. You have the reader s attention. Why not try to get him/her to take the next step by using a clear, easy, compelling call-to-action at the end of each blog entry (i.e. P.S. Like us on Facebook at for a chance to win a weekly prize). 2 Twitter Tricks for Enhancing the Performance of Your Career Center There were not many schools who gave glowing endorsements about Twitter either. However, here are 2 ways you can have greater success through the site: 1. Follow like a job-seeker. Use Twitter to follow your target employers, relevant associations, and thought leaders on career development and social media. Twitter is a phenomenal research tool for a Career Center (and for job-seekers). Just beware of your follower-to-following ratio. If you are following a lot more people than you are being followed by, your account appears to be of lower value. 2. Make each character count. You only get 140 characters per tweet. Make sure to shorten your URLs any time you link to a web site in a tweet. Not sure how to do that? Just google shorten a URL, and you will get a series of results on how to do it. You can also just visit to shorten a URL. Make sure your tweets also contain value! 38

39 SUMMARY In today s economy, it s more important than ever for Career Centers to get their students to prioritize career planning as early as possible. However, this is not an easy task, with many students lacking motivation, and with Career Centers being asked to do more with less. You probably didn t pursue a career in a Career Center because of a passion or talent for sales and marketing. However, better marketing will increase student awareness, student participation, and overall support for your Career Center. In other words, better marketing will enable you to help more students! The 6 steps in this report serve as your Career Center s Marketing Blueprint! Step 1: Be Strategic. Understand your audience and design your marketing with your audience in mind. Step 2: Build Social Proof. Use success stories and testimonials, along with endorsements from peer evangelists and affiliate partners. Step 3: Stand-Out At High-Traffic Locations. Just like an Internet marketer, the best way to drive traffic for your Career Center is to go where the traffic already is. Step 4: Create Cool Events. Make your programs sound fun, and students will come! Step 5: Connect With Employers The Right Way. Approach employers like a job-seeker should, and treat employers like VIP customers. Step 6: Embrace Social Media. Social media has permanently changed the way we communicate and build relationships. Embrace these platforms NOW, or be prepared for your Career Center and your students to fall way behind the Career Centers who do. 39

40 FREE CAREER ADVICE LIBRARY FOR YOUR CAREER CENTER AND YOUR STUDENTS/ALUMNI! Would you like a FREE job search and career advice resource to share with your students and alumni? Then, check out Pete Leibman s Career Muscles archive at This online library features 100+ (and growing) articles on a variety of professional development topics, including job search best-practices, networking secrets, resumes do s and don ts, interviewing tactics, social media myths and truths, personal branding essentials, Corporate etiquette no-no s, and more. POPULAR ARTICLES INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: 25 Things Students Must Do in College 4 Ways to Figure Out What Your Dream Job Is 7 Questions Employers Have That They Won t Ask You 5 Things Every Employer Wants 7 Major Job Search Lies and Truths 4 Ways to Break Into Any Industry 10 Reasons Why Networking is the #1 Way to Get Your Dream Job 6.5 Tips for a Higher Salary and a Better Compensation Package While all content is copyrighted, your Career Center may link to any articles from Pete Leibman s Career Muscles archive on your web site or social media platforms. Check it out, and subscribe to receive future articles for FREE at On average, 1-2 new articles are posted weekly. 40

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