Offices providing career services are currently faced with a rapidly changing technology landscape, relative to the platforms we use to manage employers’ job, internship, and cooperative education postings; events, meet ups, and career fairs; and counseling or coaching appointments with our students and alumni. Over the last few years, we have seen company mergers, the combining of separate systems, and the launch of entirely new platforms and companies!
As our offices continue to adjust to this changed environment, the Technology Knowledge Group (KG) decided to capture the current state of the field and target areas for future programming. During the summer of 2017, the KG conducted an association-wide survey of career centers and offices to identify the types of systems we all use as well as some of the common challenges we all face.
In total, 84 individuals completed the survey, from 74 institutions; during analysis, duplicate entries were removed. The results confirmed that we are truly in a period of transition, which has left many of our colleagues with a wide-ranging set of questions and the need for additional assistance and support.
Nearly half (n=36) of our participating schools reported using Handshake as their platform for students. 19% reported using Symplicity, while 11% reported using Grad Leaders. A number of other systems were being used by our member schools as shown in Table 1 below.
TABLE 1: Systems Used for Student Support
|System||Number of Schools||Percentage|
|College Central Network||4||5%|
When providing services for alumni, the percentages indicated broader diversity among the systems being used with Handshake leading the field at 36% of schools using their platform. As shown in Table 2, 22% reported using Symplicity, while 12% were using Grad Leaders. Of particular note, 12% of respondents indicated that they were not using any system for the delivery of services to alumni.
TABLE 2: Systems Used for Alumni Support
|System||Number of Schools||Percentage|
|College Central Network||3||4|
In addition to collecting information on what platforms schools are using, the survey also collected questions from participants for the software vendors. The following broad themes emerged:
Platform Versatility – Participants zeroed in on challenges around customizability of the platforms, ease of use (simplified processes and less cumbersome access for end users), integration support for CRMs (e.g. Salesforce or Banner), and database access / analytics support (e.g. reporting or dashboards).
Platform Development – There were a number of questions on how the platforms were developed, how were career services offices involved in the initial creation of the platform, how can they be involved in future development, and what features are most used by students and employers and how those features have improved overall usage.
Proving Value and ROI – Several participants asked questions about using the system to measure Return on Investment and alumni engagement, managing longitudinal data for outcomes reporting, and integration of First Destination Surveys.
Customer Service – These questions were focused on the quality of customer care for users of the system and the need for real-time help desk services, such as telephone and online chat support. There were also questions related to who the vendors felt their “customers” were (i.e. students, employers, or career center staff).
Employer Relations Support – We collected questions related to best practices for keeping employer recruiter or human resources contacts current. We also collected questions related to wanting to learn about ways in which the platforms could help with growing connections between employers and students and alumni.
Survey participants also had questions for their peers. Related to staff usage of the systems, there was a desire to know how much time staff members were spending in the system on a daily basis. There was also a desire to know how schools were keeping up with system updates and training their staff. On the employer relations front, there was significant interest in the approval processes being used with companies and their jobs. Finally, schools were interested in how their peers were increasing the adoption rate of the platforms by students on their individual campuses.
In light of these results, the KG will be hosting a unique session at this year’s SOACE Conference in San Antonio.
We will begin the session with a mini-panel featuring representatives from 12Twenty, GradLeaders, Handshake, and Symplicity as well as career center employees who are currently using each of the platforms. This will be followed by breakout sessions for each system, allowing attendees to explore the questions and challenges identified in this survey, as well as any they would like to bring with them to the conference.
Join us on Sunday, December 10 at 5:00 p.m. for this exciting program!
Ashley Graham Phipps
Assistant Director, Employer Relations
Wake Forest University
Communications & Marketing Officer
University of South Florida