Spotlight for Career Services Professionals, August 3, 2011
Engaging students in career services has long been one of the biggest challenges for career centers. To attract students to career center programs takes effective marketing.
“Great marketing starts with great strategy,” says Pete Leibman, founder of Dream Job Academy. “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.”
Leibman recently published The Career Center Marketing Blueprint, in which he identifies six steps for increasing student awareness of and participation in career services:
- Step 1: Be Strategic
- Career centers need to understand that they symbolize entry into the real-world and the end of “the best four years of [students’] lives.” You have to find ways to reposition your career center as welcoming, fun, exciting, and cool. Rather than telling students you can help them write a better resume, tell them what they can achieve with a better resume. This might sound like a small distinction, but it makes a huge difference.
- Step 2: Build Social Proof
- The best way to brag is to get someone else to brag for you. Your best marketing will come from satisfied students and alumni who have benefited from your programs, and from other people on and off campus who see the value in what you have to offer. How much time is your career center investing in cultivating relationships with key student leaders, key faculty, and other people who already have the ears of your students?
- Step 3: Stand Out at High-Traffic Locations
- One of the best Internet marketers in the world once said that the best way to drive traffic is not to try to bring the traffic to you; it’s to go where the traffic is and stand right in front of it. This applies to your career center as well.
- Step 4: Create Cool Events
- Students have full schedules and very limited free time. Meanwhile, career center programs often look like work. So, students tend to choose to spend their free time on other activities that look like fun. Make your program sound fun and students will come. Innovative career centers develop creative themes for events based on pop culture, sports, fashion, and holidays.
- Step 5: Approach Employers the Right Way
- Career centers that struggle to build employer partnerships often make the same mistakes when contacting employers that inexperienced job seekers do. Like successful job seekers, career centers with great employer partnerships usually start with target lists of employers that make the most sense based on their student populations, then they make sure their messaging is personalized to each employer as much as possible.
- Step 6: Embrace the Internet and Social Media
- A new person joins LinkedIn every second of every day, on average. Facebook has more than 600 million members worldwide. These sites have completely changed how we communicate. Still, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and many career centers are diluting their social media efforts by trying to be in too many places at one time. Start by establishing a presence in one place. A helpful tip: Have students help you with your social media efforts.
To obtain a free electronic copy of the entire 40-page Career Center Marketing Blueprint, e-mail Pete Leibman at Pete@DreamJobAcademy.com before October 1, 2012.