By Scott Estrada, Performance Analyst, Maher & Maher 

If I had to use just one word to encapsulate the best practices for placing students into skilled, well-paying jobs, I would steal the one Jennifer Poe of Chaffey College used when she described her college’s job placement success: she said it can all be attributed to “relationships.” This word, and the principle behind it, was a commonality echoed by all three TAACCCT grantees who presented for the October 31 webinar TAACCCT Job Placement Strategies: From Enrollment to Employment.

The relationships Jennifer was referring to are manifold—those between the student and the career coach, the student and the employer, the employer and the work-skills navigator, the work-skills navigator and the student, and the employer and the program manager. Each actor works in concert with one another, building and curating trust over time. The result of such effort is a stable pipeline for students to enroll, complete, and earn a higher-paying job.

As demonstrated in this chart, created by Chaffey College, the relationship between the students, employers, case managers and outreach staff all build on one another to create a pipeline that is constantly improving and building on its successes.

Job Placement Flow Chart

The story Jennifer described is similar to what Mary Benedict of Clarke State and Michelle Hall of Manchester Community College described. It started with building credibility with local employers. In Michelle’s case, that meant getting the governor to appoint an industry council to demonstrate how important the grant was to political leadership. For Clark State, innovations developed through the grant increased enrollment and retention rates so employers knew that the program had the potential to benefit their own skills gap.

Additionally, for all presenters there was a concerted effort to listen to employers and implement their feedback on the curriculum. Manchester Community College did this by sending out an “Employer Satisfaction Survey” to demonstrate they were serious about utilizing feedback to affect the program, and doing it in a systematic way. What the employers saw from these efforts were programs that were the real deal. Credibility was earned and relationships were established. So, when it came time to put these programs into action, the employers had bought in and were ready to get involved.

Chaffey Community College has dedicated career coaching staff—two career coaches and one work-skills navigator—who were in the classroom from day one and developed relationships with all of the students who moved through the program. This continued after the courses ended, with intensive career services where each student received workshops on resume building, searching for jobs, and interviewing.

Students also benefit from the numerous interactions that they have directly with employers. With trust already developed among career staff, employers were comfortable investing the time and energy to create opportunities for the student to participate in internships and site visits. This meant that, as the program progressed and the student was ready to exit, the relationship between the applicant and the employer was already established, leading to a high job placement rate.

Relationships can only be built over time. Job placements may only occur on the back end of the program, but high placement rates depend upon a trusted partnership that has been initiated and curated from the get-go. Over time, these relationships lead to a condition where all of the program contributors are working toward the same shared goal: getting your students into well-paying jobs.

Here are just a few high-level tips drawn from the experiences of Manchester Community College, Chaffey Community College, and Clark State Community College.

Top Tips for Job Placement Success:

  • Establish credibility by continuing to improve the program with feedback from employers. This builds trust among your industry partners;
  • Maintain consistent student interaction from career services. That means registration, retention, and placement happen with the same career staff; and
  • Connect employers to students, and create as many opportunities as possible for this to happen. Get the employer into the classroom and the students exposed to the workplace.

For more information on job placement, employer engagement, and tracking employment outcomes, visit the links below: