Key Takeaways From NACE21

July 9, 2021 | By Tony Fioriglio


TAGS: best practices, career development, competencies, diversity and inclusion, nace insights, operations, talent acquisition, trends and predictions,

Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

For obvious reasons, NACE21 was unlike any conference NACE has ever hosted, and while the fully virtual event may not have had the human-to-human interactions of a traditional in-person event, that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of interactions.

Because each session had a live chat feature, participants could share their thoughts on the topics discussed at the session and how those topics may relate to larger industry trends. Plus, because attendees were already on their computer or tablet, they didn’t need to sneak glances at their phones to participate in the weeklong social media conversation around #NACE21.

Over the course of the week, it became clear that several topics weighed most heavily on attendees:

What will the new “normal” actually look like?

Over the past 16 months, employers and colleges, along with the rest of society, were forced to adjust on the fly to try to maintain some level of production and normalcy while limiting human contact as much as possible. Now, as many aspects of society are slowly returning to a prepandemic normal, the question remains: What changes are here to stay? Will career fairs and internships continue to have a virtual element, and, if there is a virtual component, how will that impact in-person events and internships? This ongoing conversation was discussed at length in multiple sessions that were part of the Sourcing, Recruiting, and Talent Acquisition track at NACE21.

With ongoing efforts to embrace authenticity in the workplace, the line between authenticity and professionalism remains somewhat unclear.

Several of the most well-attended sessions at this year’s conference focused on rethinking professionalism and how it relates to authenticity. These sessions explored whether traditional standards of professionalism can, or even should, withstand the more modern and inclusive workplace environment that most businesses strive for. Based on the response to this topic at NACE21, this conversation is likely to continue into NACE22.

How can the newly revised career readiness competencies be best used?

The NACE Career Readiness Competencies Task Force hosted three separate sessions to discuss the competencies and how to most effectively implement them. All three sessions were well-attended and widely discussed, both in the session chats and on social media. Of particular note, during the session titled “Career Readiness Competencies: Why, How, and What to Assess,” presenters from the task force reviewed several methods for student assessment and how to best integrate those efforts into current processes being used by career services professionals. (NACE21 attendees can view the session here.)

As student populations get more diverse, are the needs and expectations of all students being met?

The session “Reimagining Career Services” presented the case that many career centers, as currently constructed, are missing many underrepresented students, and that number has been increasing over the past few decades. Beyond that, as the shape of careers have changed, so, too, must career services change to ensure students are more prepared to enter a workforce that requires more adjustments than previous generations. However, implementing these changes can be difficult without clearly defined goals and data to support these changes. (NACE21 attendees can view the session here.)

If you missed out on these or any other sessions during NACE21, all educational sessions will be available through May 21, 2022, and all sessions are available for purchase.