How to Reach Different Types of Students During Distance Learning

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career services center

Career services have always supported students in all stages of the job search process. Going virtual doesn’t mean that will change, but it does mean the traditional approaches of reaching those students needs some adjustment.

According to a recent poll by NACE, while 69% of career centers exclusively offered drop-in career counseling in person pre-COVID-19, only 5% plan to do so this fall.

This means career centers will provide more services either entirely online or in a hybrid format (in person and online).

It’s important to determine the best ways to make virtual methods work for different types of students. Here’s how:

First-year students

With freshmen, your biggest concern is simply introducing them to the many advantages of a career services center. In the past, you may have done this at an assembly or in an orientation packet. But there are plenty of ways to communicate these details virtually instead.

For example, you might record a video introduction about what services your center offers. Then, you can send the video to first-year seminar professors to share with their classes. Or, you might share it on your university’s social media channels or email distribution. Use whatever methods will reach the most students.

Next, create digital worksheets to help students develop a four-year plan. They should understand what they’ll need to know about career planning and how soon they’ll need to know it. Share the worksheets along with the video and house it on your career center website. That way, students can easily access them in the future.

Internship seekers

Once your students are sophomores and juniors, they’re often more motivated to care about their careers. Many will start pursuing internship opportunities, which means they’ll be on the lookout for more information from the career services center.

Send out a weekly newsletter to these students with news, advice, virtual events, and internship listings. A great way to elaborate on internship tips is to host monthly webinars diving into specific topics.

Again, all of these resources should be available on your career center website and social media pages. This allows students to find them easily, no matter their preferred virtual habits.

Passive searchers

Not every sophomore and junior will be paying close attention to your content. Some will be doing the bare minimum to prepare for their careers. 

For this group, create a checklist of what they should try to do before the end of the semester. This will help keep them on track, even if they aren’t engaging with your content all semester long. 

Passive searchers are probably most reachable through email, but you can also use your university’s social media to send out encouragement and motivation.

Panicked pivoters

What comes after passive? Panic. These students are typically seniors who were probably passive last year, and it’s just hitting them now that they have to start caring about job seeking. 

Remind these students how your career services center can help them and make sure they know your office hours. Then, invite them to sign up for your most useful opportunities, like mock virtual interviews and resume reviews.

Send panicked pivoters a compilation of the best content featured on your website, such as past webinars, video tips, and guides to resumes and cover letters.

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.