Rising tuition costs and growing competition in the college graduate job market have increased the need for students to
identify their desired careers and the skills required of them early in their college years. Early career identification gives
the savvy college student the time to build a successful strategy. On the other side of the coin, ever-increasing recruitment
costs and lower retention rates motivate employers to continue to look for more effective ways to identify candidates early,
prior to the active job search, in order to convey their corporate brand and hire the recruits that best fit their corporate
culture. Today's graduate job market puts a new urgency for both student and employer to start earlier to achieve success.
There's no magic bullet that will guarantee success but starting early will greatly increase the chances of successfully landing
a job that you'll enjoy. Waiting until you need a job to start looking for a job is too late. In some cases we spend more time
researching a new car or television than we do a new career. Focusing on career development when we're not actively
looking for a job never seems to get a high enough priority in our busy lives when there are more immediate needs. For the
college student, how to approach a career development strategy may not be clear. It's not something that's typically taught
and can feel like an intimidating process.
Most of today's career solutions focus on career placement more than career development. The Track Ahead concept is
that a complete career development solution must involve a long-term approach to research, self-assessment and sustained
interaction between recruits and employers. College coaches figured this out years ago, understanding that if you want
to land top talent, you have to start recruitment in the early high school or middle school years. Employers are adopting
this same method: connect early to the passive recruit and communicate the "company brand" to college students and
alumni. As a student, if you know that an employer wants to reach out to you early in your college years, you can create
an advantage for yourself by preparing and starting your career development process as early as possible. The recruit who
understands his or her own personal brand and is able to get more time with potential employers is much more likely to be
The goal of Track Ahead is to help the college student create a career management blueprint. In fact, we want to
fundamentally change the career development and recruitment model for students, alumni and employers. We'll do this by
giving the early career development process structure and relevance by turning it into a game complete with points, levels,
badges and rewards. How well you play the game will be determined by how much time and effort you put into assessing
your career preferences, understanding your own skill sets as well as the skills needed to succeed in your chosen career. In
the Track Ahead game, the more points and levels you achieve, the more rewards you get. Those rewards range from access
to tools to help you manage your career development, to actual connections with prospective employers.
As the desire for early outreach in the recruitment process continues to grow, the passive recruit is the coveted target. The
new model of recruitment says everyone is a potential job candidate just waiting for the right opportunity to be converted
to an active candidate.
In this new world, a static online profile will not be sufficient. It means constantly thinking about your current skills and
those skills you may need to develop in the future. It means changing the mindset of waiting for senior year to think about
getting a job. It's never too early to start managing your career: learning about what potential careers are available to you
and the skills needed to achieve them. Then you can begin your outreach to prospective employers long before graduation
and way ahead of your competition. Give yourself a choice, not a chance for success.
Now that's what I call tracking ahead.