4 tips: supporting student careers post-pandemic

May 24, 2021 | Attraction & marketing

Content provided by: Handshake

As we transition out of the pandemic, Handshake offers top tip on how to best support student careers.

As the pandemic exit plan continues on apace and life begins to feel a bit more normal, alongside all the positivity, we do still need to consider how to address the changes that will stick around.

The way technology has been embraced in the careers sector, across employers and university careers services alike, indicates that short-term fixes are likely to become long-term solutions. And while it may seem like all students are tech geniuses, they still often need extra support in using professional technology in a careers context.

Here are our tips on how to make sure students’ careers needs are met as we transition out of the pandemic.


1. Keep tapping into virtual fairs as part of a hybrid model

The pandemic has, of course, brought seismic changes to the way careers fairs operate, with university leaders having to adapt, and harness innovative technology. But the move to virtual fairs – when they are done right – has actually presented opportunities to create a more equitable playing field for employers, students, and universities alike.

The key is to keep human connection, driven by insight, at the core of the virtual offering. While creating serendipitous connections feels good, it’s not an effective way to make sure the right candidates and businesses meet.

Virtual fairs can become the place of more meaningful networking for the long-term by incorporating relatively simple features like enabling employers and candidates to check one another’s profiles in advance and schedule personalised meetings. All this means that keeping at least a hybrid model for careers fairs is the logical way to go.


2. Make as much of your content and services ‘mobile-first’ as possible

Inequity in early careers is a persistent problem, with a huge range of structural issues meaning those with existing connections to the world of work through family or friends often have better prospects. But the pandemic has brought another issue to the fore – tech inequality. Issues like slow broadband or device and connectivity provision for disadvantaged students have inevitably caused problems when accessing support or opportunities.

But university careers services can play an anchoring role in helping to resolve some of the issues brought about by this sea change in the graduate jobs application process. Data collated by Finder suggests that young people tend to be mobile-first, and those from poorer backgrounds have less consistent access to laptops, wifi and a regular space to work in. That’s why careers services and student employers can play a key role by making their own offerings mobile-first too.


3. Offer extra support with navigating Zoom interviews – they’re not going away

Our recent Netpotism report found that 66% of UK businesses say their experiences during the pandemic mean they’ll conduct more of the recruitment process online going forward. This means that training in how to conduct oneself in virtual interviews and support with using the requisite technology will still be a huge boon to students.

It may seem simple, but the same study cited above also found that 91% of students have experienced issues with online interviews, with 15% specifically saying that understanding tech etiquette was a problem. For university careers services, this means even if you’re covering off virtual interviews, it may be worth gauging whether more provision is needed. Meanwhile employers may want to play it safe and make the effort to walk through virtual interview processes in a little more depth to put candidates at ease.


4. Bring Design Thinking into your practice

Design thinking is the philosophy behind the most successful organisations in the world, providing a powerful framework for ideating, testing, and iterating on what the future might look like – and it has the potential to be a powerful tool when applied to the careers sector at this pivotal time.

Through design thinking, we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems, providing a solution-based approach to solving problems – all of which can help the sector think reflectively and tackle some of the thorny issues coming down the track post-pandemic.

That’s why Handshake is announcing a CBD accredited event called Careers2030: Designing the Future of Early Careers – A Design Thinking Bootcamp for Emerging Leaders. The course is one of a series of plans that see us reinvest a chunk of our recent $80m funding round back into the UK.

Giving careers services staff time away from their day job to think about their practice is important, but budget cuts mean that finding the money to engage with professional development can be hard. As such, Handshake is covering all costs associated with this virtual event for up to 200 emerging leaders attending this training.

Running from 28th June to 2nd July, the event will bring career services operators together for an interactive workshop to share best practice and define the future of the early careers sector and graduate recruitment.

The event takes place over three weeks and includes:

  • Interactive Design Thinking workshop sessions to define challenges and solutions for future career services
  • Panels and Q&As with leading partner organisations, employers and students
  • Surprise morning energizer to boost attendees energy
  • Public voting of best prototypes to create hype
  • Virtual celebration and award ceremony where winning teams will receive donations to their institution of £1,500 per person to implement their idea.

To learn more or to nominate someone to attend, click here.

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