Updating Career Resource Materials: The Story of a Complete Overhaul
I am a person who needs order. I need consistency. I crave those things in my surroundings. I feel an overwhelming sense of relaxation when they are present. If ever I find myself in an environment where those things do not exist, my immediate reaction involves some combination of low-level panic and incredulity at the situation. But also the overwhelming need to impart order on the environment myself. (This is the part where you say “yeah… she is Type A”). Once upon a time I might have felt bashful about this urge, but now I know that it is a strength – others value my ability to recognize when improvements can be made and organization can be set in place.
When I arrived at Wentworth Institute of Technology some seven months ago, I was surprised to find that our career resource literature (think resume guides and interview FAQs) was in sore shape. Many of the documents had outdated information and none of them had the same branding (let alone the same format or font!). As you can imagine, my palms started to sweat and I began wondering: how soon is too soon to mention something about this? One month. That’s how long I lasted.
(To be fair, there had been a recent re-organization and a good bit of staff turnover, so updating the literature had not been quite so high on the to-do list J).
Imagine my surprise when my supervisor’s response to my concern was absolute delight – “oh yeah, that’s great. We would love to have you re-vamp our materials!” Oh. OKAY!
I grabbed two colleagues and got to work. How did we do it, you ask?
- We reviewed the original materials and made improvements based on current best-practices.
- We also assessed the needs of our student population and benchmarked against similar institutions.
- Our goal? To identify gaps in the literature, improve our current handouts, and create new documents to better support our students’ needs.
Steps from A to Z:
- Review existing materials – edit for content appropriateness and relevancy.
- Solicit feedback from constituents – staff, students – does what we are changing make sense?
- Benchmark – what are the leading career centers sharing with their students? How is it marketed?
- Content creation – creating new handouts where necessary.
- Uniform branding – can you tell these documents all belong to the same office? Are they formatted in the same way across the board? Are we pleased with the aesthetics?
- Location of information – it is easily accessible to all constituents?
We have been using the handouts for about four months now with great success. The candid feedback we received has been positive – students are using the materials and they have been incorporated into our cooperative education preparation seminar. We decided to display them prominently in the office on a spinning literature rack (possibly my favorite purchase thus far). It’s great to see students pop in, grab a few things, and then leave again – they’re actually coming for the handouts!
One final step I would love to implement is some sort of formal assessment, to gather data on the usefulness of each document. I’d also like to create a focus group for qualitative feedback on comprehension. There is always, always room for improvement.
About the Author:
Lauren Creamer began her career in higher education on the residence life side of the house. She recently made the transition to career counseling in early 2015, but her work has always had a career development focus. She loves working with students in all capacities and especially enjoys teaching students about how to successfully market themselves. She holds a BS and a BA from the University of Rhode Island in STEM disciplines and an MS in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University. She currently works for Wentworth Institute of Technology as a Co-op and Career Advisor. In her free time she loves to read and cooks up a storm.