The Career Center received the National Association of Colleges and Employers Innovation Excellence Award, which recognizes a career center for having the best college program focused on marketing and branding in the nation. This is the second national award for the Career Center this year—in the spring, the center received the Chevron Award for the development of a groundbreaking program in career services.
The most recent recognition was awarded to the Career Center for its marketing communications plan “The Career Life Cycle,” which created a timeline to schedule Facebook and Twitter posts for the fall and spring semesters of the 2011-12 academic year.
“Students are likely to engage with us more through social media as its use in higher education increases,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the Career Center. “Because of this, we feel that having a communications plan in place will help us to extend our reach to students who may not ever visit our office in person.”
The plan was designed to take students through the typical steps needed to successfully secure a job or internship. Curriculum topics included résumé and/or cover letter writing, career fair preparation, networking, interviewing, salary and negotiation, and success after graduation. The program was coordinated by Laura Ledgerwood, a career consultant and social media coordinator and loosely based on the ECHD 3050 Career and Life Planning class.
“It is important for all higher education offices to create an intentional communications plan,” said Ledgerwood. “There are a lot of distractions for this generation, so if you don’t draw in students from the beginning, they likely won’t continue to pay attention to your messages.”
Based on both the structure of the Career and Life Planning class and when students typically need career information, the Career Center uses Facebook, Twitter and direct emails to provide virtual career assistance to students seeking jobs and internships. The center posts information on job searches, preparing for career fairs, specific job leads and other topics at pre-determined times to help students access the right career information.
The Career Center makes sure content reaches students at a time they are likely to both need and access it—before a career fair or job fair. The Career Center also uses Hootsuite and Bit.ly to track which topics get the most clicks.
“The office wanted to brand itself as a career expert and be the first place students looked to for quality career information through virtual resources,” said Tom Landrum, senior vice president for external affairs. “Using this model helped to propel the UGA Career Center to become second in the nation in total number of Twitter followers for U.S. career services offices and to be on the forefront of social media within the field.”