Friday, January 6, 2012

Employment is up don't let your effort down

Lots of good economic news in the last couple of months. While I have not yet quit holding my breath for things to continue to trend upwards, I am at least venturing occasional moments of optimism that the view looks better tomorrow than yesterday.

With that in the front of your mind, consider what steps you have taken over the last 2 or 3 years to retain, steward and cultivate your donors and constituents. Many programs have put additional efforts into communication streams, career services, webinars focused on refreshing skills, networking receptions and many other creative approaches to provide the maximum value possible to continuing a relationship with your institution. As things get better, consider how to continue, improve and expand those efforts.

Some simple steps can certainly continue to grow your base - expand your career services efforts for alumni. As jobs become more available, many of your alumni will find themeselves looking again either for full employment or for the job that they quit trying to find months and months ago. Other alumni are going to be in hiring roles again - looking to fill positions. Make sure that you play a role in connecting the two groups. I think that the benefits will speak for themselves.

When alums report they got a new job, send them something to say congratulations. This can be as simple as a thank you letter from the president or director of alumni relations congratulating them, a free screen saver that shows them to be a proud alum or as complicated as a coffee mug for their desk proudly calling out their educational allegiance. Obviously there are many inbetweens or other creative ideas here - use your imagination and give them something that will be meaningful to your alumni.

Make it clear that you value them and their allegiance and that you are still there for them. Offer monthly resume, interview and job search webinars at no cost. Provide refresher or training courses for more experienced alumni who seek rejoin or improve their position in the workforce but are unsure how to do so in 2012.

Obviously these are just a few simple ideas but they start down the path of building rather than shrinking from engagement and involvement with our alumni. Keep in mind that the majority of jobs being generated right now are in the small business market, an environment where many more folks yield much greater influence than in big business, you just need to get them to tell you about it.


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