Improving the Career Services Offerings Rated Least Effective by Students


NACE (The National Association of College and Employers) conducted a survey at the end of 2016 that yielded some valuable feedback about students’ perceptions regarding the usefulness of various career services offerings. The survey compared effectiveness ratings given by first-generation students to the effectiveness ratings given by non-first generation students, so we took the average of both groups of students’ scores to identify the offerings rated lowest in effectiveness.

Some of the areas with the lowest average effectiveness ratings were online practice interviews, online and offline career/employment workshops, and career skills testing/career assessments. Read on to find out how you can make these offerings more meaningful and worthwhile for the students who come to your career center for help.

Online Practice Interviews

While the survey did not specify the reasons why students may find certain services to be ineffective, our best guess is that online practice interviews often do not feel “real” enough to make students feel they’ve gained any true interview experience from them.

When you conduct online mock interviews through CSM or otherwise, your goal should always be to make it seem as realistic as possible. Students want to walk away with the feeling that they’ve just had a real interview, so encourage them to dress up in business attire, even if the interview is only conducted through a webcam.

Another tip is to pretend that you are an interviewer from an actual company; ask the student prior to the mock interview what would be their dream company to work for, then play the role of an interviewer from that company. To make it as realistic as possible, be sure to do tons of research on the company and the hypothetical role that the student is interviewing for.

Useful feedback is, of course, critical to whether a mock interview experience is useful for the student. Try to focus equally on what he or she did well and what they could improve upon. A balance of positive feedback with constructive criticism is the most helpful type of assessment you can provide.

Career/Employment Workshops (both online and in-person)

In-person workshops ranked slightly higher in effectiveness than online workshops, but both ranked lower than career services professionals would probably hope for.

One way to make these workshops more valuable for students is to gather student feedback to actually determine which workshops they feel they need the most. Consider mass-emailing surveys or polls to students, or sharing a poll students can take on your social media channels. From the survey and poll results, you can see which workshops students would find most helpful and focus more on those.

Additionally, you should strive to recruit guest speakers to attend workshops as often as possible. A workshop on resume-building with a presentation by a recruiter from a respectable company significantly raises the perceived value of that workshop. In order to get recruiters to attend campus workshops (or online workshops, if that is how your career center conducts them), you will have to first build solid relationships with recruiters at these companies. You can do this by maintaining targeted and regular outreach to recruiters at these companies using your CSM system.

Career Skills Testing & Career Assessments

One issue with career skills tests that match students with potential career fits is that these tests, by nature, make blanket assumptions. While these tests can definitely be helpful in suggesting possible career paths based on a student’s general personality, you must offer additional guidance based on what you know firsthand about the student from your relationship with them.

For instance, a student who likes science and is highly motivated may receive “physician” as a recommended career path when taking a career assessment. However, you might know from your own interactions with this student that they have absolutely no interest in ever going into the medical field. This is where you step in and balance the test results out with advice from a real person – maybe you help the student brainstorm other science-oriented careers that have nothing to do with medicine.

The key to helping students find career assessments more effective is to always balance them out with personalized advice that is coming from you and is catered to the individual student.

Higher Ed, Career Services

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