Between working at the University, finishing her degree, and taking care of her children, Natalie Potter didn’t have much time to research new job possibilities—let alone polish her résumé or practice for interviews.
So Potter, a clerk in UI Human Resources at the time, met with a job coach in Career Development Advising, who helped her discover jobs she would qualify for at the University, reviewed her cover letter and electronic application, and gave her interviewing tips.
“I was able to move forward much more quickly and efficiently than I would have been able to do on my own,” says Potter, who is now a professional department assistant in the College of Engineering.
Career Development Advising, a free and confidential service offered by Human Resources, was created to help UI employees advance their career goals—whether within their current department or elsewhere on campus. Three job coaches are available to help staff evaluate career goals and develop job search strategies.
Depending on the needs of the individual, coaches can also help staff create résumés and cover letters, understand what employers are looking for, and improve interviewing skills. Employees can also use an online interview simulation tool, which records mock interviews via web cam and allows individuals to critique themselves.
“If they want us to review their responses, we’re more than happy to do that,” says Keith Becker, the service’s coordinator. “But sometimes they just want to watch themselves to see any mannerisms or habits that they can improve.”
The Career Development Advising service is open to any full- or part-time UI employee, including merit staff, professional and scientific staff, and faculty. Meetings with a job coach typically last 60-90 minutes, and can include follow-up visits if necessary.
“We try to help employees wherever they seem to be in their career, and help them move forward,” says Lyra Dickerson, director of Employment Services, a division of Human Resources. “We’ve seen people who are new to the University and don’t know the possible career paths…to people who’ve been with the University for over 20 years.”
The goal of the service—which is one of the few of its kind at comparably sized institutions—is to retain good employees, Dickerson says.
The service “is helping people see the possibilities and realize that they may start in one part of the University but decide that their interest is somewhere else,” she says. “This program would help them see the path they need to take to get there.”
Job coaches may also end up referring employees to other campus resources that might be helpful, such as the Office for Equal Opportunity and Diversity or the ombudsperson’s office.
“We are such a large university that sometimes people don’t even know where to begin, or where to search for what they need,” Becker says. “We provide them information to help them better navigate the University.”
Dickerson acknowledges that some employees, after working with a job coach, may decide to return to school or determine that the University doesn’t offer the job they’re looking for.
“But if we’ve done a good job selling what the University has to offer, then they’re more likely to return to us in the future,” she says. “Our goal is to try to retain the talent we’ve developed and help the University continue to be productive. The more good things people know about the University, the more attractive we are to employees.”
by Madelaine Jerousek-Smith