Careers Service Branding – An Internal View

In June 2014, a Business Management student from a UK university completed two weeks of work experience at IE. As we are specialists in working with university careers services, we felt it was a perfect opportunity to get an internal view on what students look for from a careers service brand...

As a first year student myself, currently participating in work experience at IE Design, I believe that a university’s employability rating has become one of the most important decision making factors when students are considering applying for universities.

Around a year and a half ago, I was in the position of sifting through various prospectuses searching for a university that would give me the best start in my career. My particular university’s employability rate of 89% was one of the main reasons I chose to study there. With recent figures showing 47% of graduates throughout the UK are landing jobs that are below graduate level roles, I knew I needed to make sure I get ahead of the game.

In my eyes, this is where the university’s careers services come in. They offer a whole range of different facilities, including CV appointments, careers guidance and help with placement years. It is having a strong careers service that leads to the increase in a university’s employability level.

However, the most important hurdle to overcome is persuading students to utilise these services. In my opinion, there are two categories of students: the first category, which I would consider myself in (proven by the fact I am sat here on a work placement in my first week of summer), consists of students that would actively seek out the careers services because they are aware that it will benefit them personally. Effective branding for your careers service is essential for this group of people as they need reassurance and confidence in the services they want to use. These people are also likely to research into the careers service before even applying to a university, and the right brand could be the differentiating measure.

During a careers appointment I arranged a few months ago, one of the careers team said to me that she wished “more first year students would come just for general advice and discussion.” This comment probably stems from the fact that a lot of undergraduates are in the second category of students, the ones whom have to be actively pursued with positive messages and visuals before they take action. This is where the freebies, visual identity, consistency and communication across many channels all become very important. These students are caught in a whirlwind of living away from parents for the first time and constant partying – they need a strong, visible brand to remind them why they are really attending university and get them on the right track for a successful career.

At my university, the careers brand is all around me on campus and often compels me to engage. I am always aware of the services and events they deliver and the benefits of these. However, not everyone has this luxury – some of my friends at other universities have struggled to find similar information – even when actively searching for it.