By MJ Guru, Vice President, Products
A few weeks ago, I headed up to Pullman, Washington, for my third-annual Washington State University Dad’s Weekend. Two of my kids attend Wazzu, so Dad’s Weekend is double the fun. An epic event and amazing time, especially when the Cougars win (which they did). Much to my kids’ chagrin, as we went from party to party, event to event, I found myself constantly polling students on their majors, what they want to do, and how they are approaching finding jobs.
At Alchemy we are all-in on higher education. We want to help institutions succeed by best leveraging their brilliant investment in the Workday suite of applications. However, this isn’t just about implementing software. Beyond enrollment, top of mind for higher ed executives is placement. Institutions are facing mounting pressure to produce talent that is consumed (in the form of jobs) by the economy. I mean, if you are a factory that produces widgets that nobody consumes, how long can you stay viable?
As I took in the weekend, it brought back memories. Part of me wished I could be back in the college scene, the excitement, the first time being on your own, the late nights, the parties, the learning to be serious for the first time in your life. (If you are a college parent, you know exactly what I mean.) However, the other part of me remembered the stress of tests, homework, cram sessions, and… eventually…trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to do in life. Not to mention trying to figure out how to somehow marry your ambition with a company that will hire you to do that very thing. Would I want to go through all of that now? Not really.
This…this is why I ignore my kids’ pleading, and I embarrass them by engaging in long conversations with students everywhere we go about what their plans are post-school. Although I did meet a few seniors who knew exactly where they were going to work, the majority was still unsure. Most were well on their way to graduating with their respective majors; however, many lacked insights into what they were qualified to do.
Now, this is in no way a slight on the effectiveness of WSU’s (or any other institution’s) career centers or career counselors. The majority of these organizations do the best with the information they have. But the problem lies in the fact that there isn’t a consistent view or representation of jobs.
Where do career centers and students go to look for jobs? Yeah, jobsites—LinkedIn, Monster, even directly to hiring company websites. If you’ve been in the workforce for a period of time, and you’re looking for a job, those sites provide great (albeit potentially stale) and relatable data. If you are a student though, and the majority of your resume is your college work, how do you know what to apply for? How do you translate your class work into job requirements such as skills, competencies, and proficiencies? The challenge is compounded by the fact that the jobs typically come from a variety of human resource (HR) systems that each speak different job requirement jargon.
So you have demand that speaks a different language from supply. No wonder career centers and students are challenged! But what I love about our age of technology is how quickly companies pop up to solve a problem. I know of at least three companies that are focused solely on linking student supply to job demand. Even LinkedIn is trying to tackle it.
Although each of these companies have brought a unique approach to bridging the gap, I think there’s more to the problem than language translation.
You might think that “demand” is simply the representation of jobs. No long ago, that’s what I figured too. My perspective changed, however, after a fascinating conversation with a man named Eric Lang. Eric was an early Workday customer and Workday HCM advocate. I pinged him to gain a perspective on how human resources groups recruited at campuses. Eric spoke passionately about the student perspective and told me that it wasn’t just a list of jobs students need; rather, they need to build relationships—with hiring managers, recruiters, and perhaps even other workers in similar jobs.
This was reinforced by my conversations with WSU students (while my kids rolled their eyes), who wanted and needed more than just a job description and salary range. They wanted to establish a connection, to engage with folks they could potentially work with and for.
In essence, it seems that hiring managers need to connect with students that best match who they are looking to hire. Connection is the key, and if that connection can be set in motion by systems that participate on each side of the supply chain, all the better.
This is one of the things that excites me about Alchemy. As a Workday partner dedicated to higher education, we’re looking for new ways to make the process of finding and hiring college students far more streamlined, automated, and well, intimate by better matching job details to students’ course work and knowledge.
Stay tuned as we share more about the unique approaches we’re thinking about. (Someday my kids might even thank me for this.)