The Career Funnel Is Upside Down
There’s some recent research focused on a trend called “career funneling” that really sparked my interest. The research started with the understanding that graduates are “funneling” into the same consulting, finance and tech fields. But why? According to Amy J. Binder, professor of sociology at University of California at San Diego, a lot of the blame rests with the colleges and universities. And, as a director of a career center….I agree with her!
At elite institutions across the nation, students go to career centers to be helped through the process of evaluating and understanding their ideal career path. Oftentimes they’re also a place to connect with folks from various industries to learn about careers and jobs. But, Professor Binder argues, what many colleges are doing is bringing the same types of recruiters again and again, fostering a self-fulfilling prophecy of like-begetting-like. What’s more, she points out, the most sophisticated firms create a perception of being the most highly coveted and prestigious, thus attracting the best talent.
While I agree with much of what she points out, I think very little of the blame for this rests with the companies that are doing the recruiting. These companies are doing what they should—using every means possible to attract the best talent. Having recently come from one of “those companies,” this is exactly what I would expect from my talent team. If we wanted to win in the market, I wanted the best talent!
The real issue is, I believe, two-fold: 1) colleges need to do a much better job of exposing students to a real breadth of career choices, and 2) students need to be more well-informed about who they are at their core, and where this might take them from a career perspective. It’s incumbent on us to help students remove their blinders, and expose them to the world of possibilities in career choices. We need to turn the career funnel upside down.
So how do we fix this trend? As I’ve said before, it starts with the studentknowing themselves, and knowing what they want. Both students and career centers need to focus on the individual’s pursuit of their passion. A “prestigious” job is not necessarily the job that will make you happy. And, a 30 year career has taught me that “prestige” is very much in the eye of the beholder.
But, beyond that, a large part of this rests with career centers. It’s our job to help a robust and diverse group of employers all portray themselves as “prestigious”….for the right student. We need to expose students to a breadth of opportunities, and help these employers position themselves with students who may be uniquely happy with that specific career choice. As these employers know, it’s in their best interest to hire the employee that aligns with their mission, vision and values, and who will be truly passionate about what they do.
To help students find their future, we can’t allow them to follow the trend towards funneled jobs. Speaking from experience, being truly happy in the right job is a lot more impressive than being miserable in the job that everyone thinks is “cool.” We need to turn this career funnel upside down.
Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! Johna@worldbridgepartners.com or 860-387-0503