Will Online Courses Create Employer Support for a Certification Culture that Disintermediates Higher Ed?

Photo by Avi Richards
Photo by Avi Richards

Ryan Craig, education venture capitalist and author of the 2015 book, College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education, walks us through the Utopian scenario of a whole new class of teaching institutions that will unbundle education. These new organizations will provide another more cost effective option for a large number of students, sparing them from the expense of the classic ivy covered wall setting of the higher education. They may give up the typical bells and whistles of the undergraduate experience, but instead they will gain concrete measurable skills in demand from employers. THe learning opportunities will be delivered inexpensively online or to large groups and may happen in a more institutional setting like a classroom in an office park.

Sajith Pai, an employee of The Times of India (India’s largest media group) and well-known blogger who specializes in learning on his blog,  reviewed Craig’s main chapters and calls out three key developments that may prove a boon to future generations of learners (and may mean extraordinary success to the company that can also deliver these services to larger economies like China or India):

“Competency-based learning or education (CBE): This starts with capabilities required by employers and works backward to build assessments to judge / measure capabilities, and then determines the required curricula. Done well, CBE reduces the cost of delivery of online education by half. It is also higher on efficacy as it replaces the credit-hour model where you have to demonstrate mastery in an arbitrary period of time.”

Companies  like Coursera, Udemy, EdX, Kahn Academy and hundreds of other smaller players have already flooded YouTube, Facebook, and Google with their training modules. Married together with an assessment revolution among American employers, where they truly review candidates based on certified skills, these sites could be the key to a true upheaval in the intersection between higher education and employment, with significant consequences for old-line colleges. For now, these courses are wonderful add-ons to a job seeker’s resume, showing engagement and skills, but they are certainly not going to substitute for a degree program in bricks and mortar institutions…for now.

Add to this interactivity in the learning environment. Right now we already have algorithm-driven “smart” testing platforms such as Testive where questions grow ever harder as the learner becomes more competent in answering. Also called “Adaptive Learning,” Sajith Pai has this to say about a platform that sharpens the curve as the learner improves:

“Adaptive learning: Combining adaptive learning with CBE is the killer app of online education. While adaptive learning is distinct from CBE, it usually accompanies it. Adaptive learning allows students to learn at their own pace by varying each future lesson in accordance with their performance or progress thus far. Adaptive learning is seeing a surge thanks to the availability of telemetry data due to tablet / phone usage. Telemetry data includes stuff such as movement in tablet, is student switching in and out of the program, ambient noise etc. Factoring in this data enables better program and delivery design.”

We can imagine that if testing can be leveled, automatically, then human resources departments may begin to take these online certifications more seriously because the system can then deliver a consistent level of  significant rigor in the learning process.

Lastly,  Ryan taps into the preferred environment of his audience: gaming and media.  21st Century learners have grown up with attention spans that respond directly to how engaged they are with imagery and movement of text and pictures in any given app or site or program.  So, he feels that along with interactivity, “gamification” will also drive the future of learning online. As Sajith Pai summarizes:

“Gamification: In video games, players are able to focus energies due to interactivity and competition. Thus integrating rewards and recognition such as badges, leaderboards, challenges into curricula can help enhance student engagement and improve outcomes.”

Lastly, Craig insists that models that allow learning to happen in chunks of intense focus are more appealing than the typical short “credit-hour” model.  When a student is engaged, an arbitrary stopping point based on a bell ringing and class “letting out” can be replaced with an online system that can enable a learner to choose duration of study, by what Pai calls a state of, “flow, or a zone of intense focus on learning. This can be done by enabling an environment of challenging work that stretches the individual, with clear goals and consistent feedback.”

In upcoming blog posts, I will review online certification programs such as those that Microsoft and Google currently offer.  These are certainly worthwhile endeavors that while they do not currently substitute for a degree, certainly can support your candidacy in a number of entry and mid-level jobs.  Already, these certification programs are coming into their own.

To read Pai’s full summary, visit here: http://sajithpai.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/College-Disrupted-a-summary.pdf

 

How Hiring Managers Hire: The Insider’s Guide to Getting On A Company’s Radar

handshake by rawpixel
Photo by RawPixel

You all probably know this, but just in case you don’t, online resume submissions are one of the last places a good hiring manager will turn when first looking for a new hire.  It’s obvious when you think about it. Hiring managers want to have some assurance that the hire will be a good “fit” with them and their organization, and much like we turn to a neighbor to get their recommendation for a mechanic or electrician, so hiring managers turn to their network first to find prospects.  There is of course LinkedIn as a way to find talent, but since there really is not an employee “Yelp” site with useful comments and ratings, word of mouth is the next best thing.  Let’s think step-by-step how a hiring manager works when they have an opening.

First, most larger companies require every job to be posted internally.  This is a good thing.  You WANT to work somewhere that believes in retaining talent, encouraging lateral moves, and promoting from within.  This internal post usually goes up in the internal human resources site the minute an opening is coming up — or at least as soon as the manager and HR agree on a post-able job description.

Next, HR will post the opportunity on sites like GlassDoor, LinkedIn, Indeed, StartJobs.net, CareerBuilder and even CraigsList.  There are also any one of a dozen recruiting sites where young adults are searching for jobs (your on campus career center will have contracted with at least one of these services such as Handshake or Symplicity, and others focused on recent college grads such as WayUp and Talify).

BUT, and here is the thing – simultaneously the hiring manager is now going to work their own contacts, starting with current and former colleagues, friends at home, college buddies. And, as a former head hunter myself, I find that vendors in my specific industry are often one of the very best sources of leads.  The manager will be asking at conferences they attend and at non-profits where they volunteer.  Meanwhile, HR will be working their online platforms, screening resumes (often they receive hundreds, maybe even thousands, so there is a lot of sifting going on and a lot of room for errors and omissions).

In the end, current statistics show that 70% of candidates at all levels get their new job from networking, leaving just 30% of jobs to the more formal job application process.  At the entry level, companies are ever less likely to use a head hunter or employment agency, so unfortunately that pathway into a firm is less and less viable for young adults.  Periodically a company will hire a temp and then convert them to a permanent hire.  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on temping.  But, as you can see, it is very important to be out networking in your industry.

Make sure that you stay in touch with former bosses and colleagues, even those from long ago internships and every one of your summer positions.  General communications that you share regularly and professionally  – such as a blog or an article in local or college media, even intelligent posts in Facebook or on LinkedIn,  show you are accomplished in your knowledge area. Let your circle of contacts know that while you are very happy in your current role that you will entertain inquiries from other companies.  Help others when they ask whom you might know – make referrals to other talented professionals, this will come around to help you later. These are all strategies that will help keep you visible and in demand when openings happen at other organizations.

Breaking News: Humanities Majors Don’t Suffer Financially over The Long Haul

 

humanities
Picture credit: Maine Humanities Council

Here is the bottom line….about the bottom line…for humanities majors vs. STEM majors – first of all, a number of polls including those from Gallup and Forbes show that overall, humanities majors are just as happy in their jobs as STEM majors, and that any pay difference is not causing them upset. And, great news… then, as they grow in their careers, often they close the pay gap with their scientist and engineering peers. Chronicle on Higher Education goes on to state that, “The results are familiar, if you’ve read those past reports: Bachelor’s-degree graduates in engineering and the sciences earn roughly $10,000 to $30,000 more, but humanities majors catch up over time — and humanities majors more effectively close the pay gap between younger and older workers. What’s more, the college debt that humanities graduates carry is about the same compared to other majors.”

Add to this a recent blog post by the respected Michigan workforce group, MichiganFuture, about how Google totally revised its thinking about workforce hiring strategy and humanities majors, “Project Oxygen (Google’s enterprise wide workforce analysis project) shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

So, giving your student and young adult a chance to practice the many “softer” skills is certainly going to benefit them in the long run, regardless of their major or chosen career trajectory.

Source Article: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Over-Time-Humanities-Grads/242461?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en&elqTrackId=5f5179c39905491ebe32115dfef433bc&elq=58eda80a7953412885d478df1bdd5827&elqaid=17754&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=7832

 

Advance Resume Design for Twenty-Somethings: LinkedIn and Your Resume

 

According to a recent article by Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, a writer at Grammarly, managing the way you include your LinkedIn information is important.  The article goes on to explain:

Include your LinkedIn profile URL at the top of the resume next to your contact information. If you’re using a networking resume and not applying via an applicant tracking system (ATS), hyperlink the URL so the hiring manager can go right to your profile. If you’re creating an ATS-optimized resume you may not want to hyperlink the profile URL because it will cause some systems to toss the resume out as spam. Some 87 percent of recruiters report using LinkedIn first when it comes to searching for qualified candidates, so this needs to be the first place you direct the employer so that they can learn more about your accomplishments and evaluate your culture fit for their company.”

Pro Tip: make sure you proofread your LinkedIn page carefully as well as any articles or other documents you attach.  Prospective employers read LinkedIn even more carefully than they read your resume.

Gaming the ATS is a basic fact of creating resumes that work well for online job applications.  So, while you are already in LinkedIn, spend some times using it’s search feature to your best advantage.  Here is some excellent advice from Anish Majumdar, contributing writer at the online job site, Glassdoor. He suggests that you skip using job postings themselves to select and match keywords. Because these words are not ranked in order of importance, designing a resume to include them can backfire.  Instead he suggests you look up young professionals in your same line of work – just use the LinkedIn search feature and type in the title of the job you are applying for.  You will get a list of others who have your current job. Take 10 or 15 of these profiles and scroll down to the “Featured Skills and Endorsements” section. Here you will find actual relevant KEYWORDS that have been pre-optimized by going through the LinkedIn. Write down all keywords that seem relevant.  However, when updating your resume, use only those keywords that you can fully tie in to a description of direct experience you want to showcase.   

 

Dwight-Schrute-Sample-Resume_l

Dwight Schrute’s Resume is unlikely to make it through the corporate HR ATS system.

Pro-tip:  Have two versions of your resume. The main resume should be simple with few graphics so it doesn’t confuse ATS systems.  Your secondary resume should have a bit more visual interest for use with real human contacts.  Remember, nearly 70% of all job changers report that their new job came from a networking source, so don’t skip personal networking – this should be the basis for any job search process.