Should Higher Education Institutions Find Students?

Should higher education institutions actively seek potential students while they are in high school? (I asked a similar question regarding employers seeking out employees and my answer was yes – it is a more efficient and effective way to place employees.) There are a few reasons why colleges should reach out to potential students.

  • Data on middle and high school students is accessible.  There are now web services that consolidate student data – contact information, test scores, grades, and curriculum planning – into a single platform.
    • One web service is offered by InBloom, which has $100 million in seed money and is backed by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. (The data is collected without parental consent.)[1] Currently, the focus is on personalized learning, however, InBloom permits third-parties to access its data stores so it is conceivable colleges could develop recruitment applications.
    • Another web service is offered by ConnectEdu, a company that is trying to bridge information sharing between public schools and colleges. They offer a recruitment platform colleges utilize to target students.
  • Colleges can participate in developing personalized learning plans for middle and high school students. Teenagers tailor the classes they take in high school based on input from colleges. For example, a teenager who demonstrates ability in English favors a more liberal arts track and one who demonstrates ability in STEM favors a more technical track. Moreover, teenagers can do things outside of the classroom – join a club, volunteer, or intern – to prepare for college and improve their chances of being accepted at one of their reach schools. Start the process of building skills and knowledge in high school.
  • Colleges communicate an interest and leave a lasting impression on high school students. Most students are unaware of the colleges that should be on their radar (especially smart, lower income students). Currently, the best indication comes from the results of SATs or ACTs tests. But these tests are unreliable and not the best predictor of a student’s performance in college. Personally, I wish I heard from a reach college while I was a freshman or sophomore in high school; it would have motivated me, started my maturation process earlier, and ultimately made me more self-aware.
  • Colleges have a better understanding of the preparedness of incoming students. Colleges mine for prospects at an earlier stage in their educational development and have a better grasp of their needs, which colleges can use to improve curriculums.
  • Colleges can more accurately predict which students will enroll after being accepted. This is important because students who are accepted into many colleges take away offers to other students.

In Higher Education in America, Derek Bok summarizes how high school students could share relevant information:

high school students reveal their interests, abilities, academic records, extracurricular activities, and other background data… colleges could mine the information. (page 135)[2]

LinkedIn is also entering into the fray by offering their professional networking services to teenagers and designing university pages. Their concept was recently released , so it is too early to predict its impact.

As these web services materialize, it will be interesting to see whether colleges start actively seeking out potential students. If they do, early high school students might employ a “pull approach” – where they pull colleges to a personal website to learn more about their skills, knowledge, interests, and values.

[1] Natasha Singer. “Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data.” New York Times, October 5, 2013.

[2] Derek Bok (2O13). Higher Education in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Current State of a Pull Approach

LinkedIn’s Recruiter is currently the most effective search engine to apply a pull approach – where you lure a recruiter or potential employer to your professional website. To apply a pull approach, I recommend publishing your skill set in LinkedIn and setup a basic profile with a link back to your professional website for an employment evaluation.  A Forbes article, Who Should You Hire? LinkedIn Says: Try Our Algorithm, shares some of the most current data regarding its usage: 16,400 enterprises have bought LinkedIn’s Recruiter. In addition, the article discusses how LinkedIn is building a new algorithm to expand “companies’ overall prospect list” by finding ways to leverage similarities in careers, skills, and education from the base search criteria.[1]

MonsterJobs also has an effective search engine for recruiters called Power Resume. Similar to the approach with LinkedIn’s service, you should keep your skill set updated and wherever you get the opportunity (on your profile or a basic resume) link back to your professional website.

There has been a flurry of recent articles about Twitter becoming the next big job board; it is clear recruiters and potential employers are utilizing Twitter to post job opportunities, you can easily find job postings if you look for them. However, to employ a pull approach, Twitter gives you the opportunity to promote your personal brand through an advertisement – essentially a 140 character elevator pitch or 6 second video clip. The way you craft your elevator pitch and utilize hooks, you should be able to get face time with your target companies. And at the end of the Tweet, send them back to your professional website where they can learn more about you by reviewing your skill set, samples of your work, etc.

An interesting way to advertise your personal brand for a job is through a Facebook ad. You can create a Facebook ad that goes directly to your professional website. To reach your target audience, you can select a “precise interest” or “broad categories” where you narrow down who will see your ad.  Altogether, it should not cost more than $100.[2] The strategy was first suggested in Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 (Wiley, 2009), though I suggest that your professional website should be your landing page (not a link to your resume).

A similar approach can be applied with Google Adwords where you can setup an ad based on certain keywords (you pay on a per click basis). This complements a well-conceived SEO campaign (“search engine optimization”), which is free but takes time to become effective.

I have discussed how to use LinkedIn, MonsterJobs, Twitter, Facebook, and Google to lure recruiters and potential employers to your personal website. Think about the advantage in having everyone funneled to a single reference point, your personal website – in effect an identity. You can optimize your personal website to best present your personal brand and be assured this is where your target audience will get to know you and make any evaluations.

Here are some reasons why you should link back to your personal website:

  • It is redundant to maintain a profile/resume in many different places.
  • There are limitations to the content you can provide based on the profile/resume.
  • No current profile/resume is as sophisticated as a personal website (use of media, style, layout, aesthetics, etc.)

[1] Anders, George. “Who Should You Hire? LinkedIn Says: Try Our Algorithm.” Forbes, April 10 2013.

[2] Salpeter, Miriam. “Social Networking For Career Success.” Learning Express, 2011.

Twitter Supports A Pull Approach

Last week, I read a second article about how Twitter is going to replace the resume. According to a Wall Street Journal article The New Resume: It’s 140 Characters[1], “Twitter is becoming a new job board,” – alright this makes sense, Twitters strengths are micro-blogging and group building which together might create a better environment to find employment – “It is also becoming the new resume” – this is much less compelling, employment evaluations need to be committed on a much more sophisticated platform. And I argue that platform should be a professional website – a multi-dimensional resume, where you present and validate your skill set.

I think as Twitter builds its reputation for employment recruitment it supports a “pull approach” – where candidates “pull” potential employers and recruiters to their professional website. When you post a Tweet that acts like an ad (in your favorite communities), you can attract potential employers and recruiters to view your professional website. This is a welcomed technology to support the pull approach for seeking employment.

There are situations that make Twitter an ideal platform to launch a job search:

  • Makes sense to create an elevator pitch with a Tweet – a concise, to the point 140 characters – to lure potential employers back to your professional website, where they can make a proper evaluation.
  • Twitter is great for team or community building. You can quickly build a following in groups and establish your credibility with Tweets. Of course the connections you make can be potential employers. According to a spokesman at Twitter, “(Twitter) allows you to develop a certain rapport with recruiters and companies you otherwise would not have access to”.
  • Understanding how to Tweet tactfully and sensibly takes some level of sophistication.  So if you are seeking employment related to social media, potential employers can learn how savvy you are by reviewing your string of Tweets. Think about how many people in the public eye need someone reviewing their every Tweet.
  • Twitter hits the masses – has more than 200 million monthly active users. Potential employers can reach a large pool of candidates with a job posting.

Trying to fit a resume into 140 characters or 6 second video is not an effective approach; instead deliver an advertisement of you with the strict intention of luring a recruiter to your professional website – not to a resume or CV, it is like a step back in technology. The tech term for this type of self-promotion on Twitter is called Twitterviews[2].  I suggest telling a story or highlight an achievement, rather than trying to cram as many keywords into 140 characters block as you can.

I agree that Twitter will become a very big job board, though I do not suggest Twitter as an employment evaluation platform but rather as a conduit to one. Although, before they make a decision to hire you, most potential employers will review your digital footprint – all social media and content posted on the internet. Clearly, professionals that can write a series of Tweets demonstrate a skill that takes time to master which might be attractive to social media or marketing professions.

[1] Silverman, Emma; Weber, Lauren. “The New Resume: It’s 140 Characters.” Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2013

[2] Schepp, David. “Is Twitter Killing The Resume?” AOL Jobs, February 27, 2013

How to Implement a Pull Approach, Employment Seeking

In previous blogs, I defined what a pull approach is in employment seeking and provided evidence that it could be effective (Pull Approach, Employment Seeking, Evidence A Pull Approach Is Effective). I would like to discuss how you actually implement a pull approach, what do you need to do to get potential employers to visit your professional website. Many of the tactics mirror what businesses do to increase traffic to their websites, though there are some subtle differences; these tactics include: SEO (search engine optimization), social media and job board landing page, participation in blogs related to your field of interest, and presentation of a skill set. It is also worth mentioning that the idea of a pull approach is evolving, so there may become new tactics as web service companies develop technologies to work with a pull approach.

A professional website is built with strong SEO fundamentals, including: the use of meta tags, content rendered as HTML text, and the structure and naming of pages. Meta tags can be used to lure potential employers when they search on keywords in a search engine; you can create meta tags that describe your field of interest, past employment or education, where you live, core-competencies, something you worked on, and any other keywords a potential employer might search on. You can and should use Google Analytics to monitor traffic to your professional website; keep an eye on how many hits you are getting, where the hits are coming from, and what search keywords are driving the traffic. Understand that it may take a few weeks before your website gets fully indexed by the major search engines.
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Evidence a “Pull Approach” Is Effective

In a previous blog, I introduced a “pull approach” to employment seeking – where you “pull” potential employers to your professional website to find employment (Pull Approach, Employment Seeking). The effectiveness of this approach hinges on whether potential employers seek employees. For many reasons, I think this is where the landscape of finding employment is going and there is evidence that it has already gained traction.

One of the biggest reasons why employers are increasingly seeking employees is because the current approach – where employees seek employers –  is so inefficient. Potential employers are required to post employment opportunities in many places, such as job boards, newspapers, on their corporate website, etc. This is expensive because of overhead, time, and the use of other resources. However, the biggest problem is that strong candidates who did not find the job posting will not be considered for the opportunity. Evidence that the current approach – where employees seek employers – is on a serious decline can seen by the precipitous loss of market value of the major players offering related services, for example, MonsterJobs has lost a staggering 81% of its value over the last 5 years (according to a Forbes article in the July 12th issue).

There is a faster pace in finding talent for immediate needs. Much of this comes from the velocity of information technology development in the service industry. The current process can take months to hire the right candidate; a posting is added, candidates submit their resume, resumes are evaluated, and interviews are setup and conducted. With a “pull approach”, the first three of these steps go away. Theoretically a potential employer can be at an interviewing stage within a few hours.

Viewing a professional website is much faster and easier than a standard resume for evaluating a potential employee. A professional website is essentially a multi-dimensional resume with rich content (and multimedia), communication features, and an internal searching mechanism. Moreover, it is easier to evaluate among a team – simply share a professional website URL among colleagues.

With an effective search mechanism in place, a potential employer can quickly get a finely-tuned search result (or list) of talented professionals in a manner of minutes. A professional website, built on a skills-based foundation, has the necessary structure and keywords to be searched through.

The evidence that potential employers are seeking employees can be found in the success of LinkedIn and their flagship product Recruiter. It is one of their biggest revenue generating services and can cost as much as $8,000 per user (according to the same Forbes article mentioned above). Clearly, companies are purchasing this service and using it to find employees.

There are some issues in relying on a LinkedIn profile to represent you. First, you do not own all the content with your free profile, and LinkedIn can use the content to generate revenue with third party marketers. Second, it does not necessarily represent everything about you. Third, it currently does not support all multimedia content such as video, audio, etc.. Fourth, it does not have the stylistic appeal of a website. In summary, it is not necessarily setup as a way for you to project yourself in the best possible way. There is a place in your LinkedIn profile where you can share a link to a website – I suggest using it to share your professional website.

Finally, there is one subtle difference with the LinkedIn approach. The idea of a “pull approach” is to give you all of the functionality you need to best market yourself and effectively lure potential employers to your professional website. You are always in control. It does not mean just having your profile getting found in a search by an employer.

TheProfessionalWebsite provides a professional website, which is the ideal platform to “pull” potential employers to.

Read more from the July 2012 Forbes article referenced above: How LinkedIn Has Turned Your Resume Into A Cash Machine.

Push Approach, Employment Seeking

The traditional approach for seeking employment is to find a job listing and apply to it by email or filling out an online form. We call this a “push approach”, where you “push” a resume to a potential employer. Within this approach, there are two different strategies: applying to a few positions with unique resumes and cover letters or applying to many positions with a generic resume and cover letter. For example, someone applying for a judge clerkship would take the first strategy and someone applying for a database administrator would take the latter strategy. A professional website has functionality for a “push approach” with both of these strategies.

Most of the content collected for a professional website can be used to generate a standard resume. You can also include sections not commonly shown on a resume – such as a portfolio. You have complete control over which sections appear on your resume and, within the section, what content appears (each line-item has “on” and “off” switches). A professional website also has functionality to build a list of contacts who you are sending your employment applications to. Also, you can track applications you sent and update their statuses.
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Pull Approach, Employment Seeking

Companies are increasingly using web services to find talent for employment opportunities; for example, drawing from my own personal experience, I have recently been contacted by hiring personnel from three companies based on my LinkedIn profile. Having potential employers find you can take some of the onus off of you to search (and apply) through the many job listing directories and perhaps avoid missing out an opportunity just because you did not find the listing. I call this a “pull approach” to employment seeking, where you “pull” potential employers to your professional website – an ideal landing platform. With a professional website, there are many advantages in having a “pull approach” .

“Pulling” a potential employer can be accomplished by using SEO (“search engine optimization”) or getting found in search engines, setting up your professional website to be a landing page in social media, and sending invitations to hiring professionals. Learn more about how to implement a “pull approach” by reading my blog entry How To Implement a Pull Approach.
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