Magazine article Techniques

Teaching Students How to Sell Themselves

Magazine article Techniques

Teaching Students How to Sell Themselves

Article excerpt

WHILE WE EXPEND A LOT OF EFFORT AND RESOURCES TEACHING OUR HIGH SCHOOL CAREER and technical education (CTE) students how to do the work, feedback from our industry partners made us realize that we were not investing adequate time training them how to actually get the job in the first place. Students at Concord Regional Technical Center (CRTC) in Concord, New Hampshire, were well-prepared on the technical skills side of things, our industry partners told us, but they just were not ready for, or particularly good at, selling themselves in a job interview.

Whether our students are going on to postsecondary education, the military or into the workforce, they need to be able to "tell their story" in a complete and compelling fashion, and they have to be aware that factors like dress, eye contact and appropriate language all contribute toward creating that all-important good first impression that recruiters and employers say is key to a successful job interview.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers change jobs about every five years and could hold on average a dozen jobs over their working career (Doyle, 2016). With almost half of those job changes occurring between the ages of 18-24 (U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2015), the need to prepare students is apparent, and the benefits students could reap from this kind of training should pay dividends, both immediately and throughout their working lives.

So to address this gap at CRTC, we took a multifaceted approach by pulling in industry partners, collaborating with local human resource professionals and making use of online job interview practice technology to create a formalized job interview training program. By recognizing that job interviews are the bridge between where our students are and where they want to be, we set to work developing a program that would serve to both build that bridge and give students the confidence to cross it.

The Vision

Once we decided that we had both an opportunity and an obligation to enhance student preparedness and improve their overall career readiness, it was time to figure out what job interview skills we needed to teach and just how we were going to teach them. We wanted students to walk away from this training with three things:

* A basic understanding of the process and objectives of a job interview.

* An inventory of their accomplishments and the hard and soft skills that are the essential elements of their individual "stories."

* Exposure to, and practice with, the techniques and challenges of linking that story to the answers they provide to job interview questions.

We also wanted to make this an "authentic" experience. One of the basic tenets of CTE is that we teach the theory in the classroom, and then we imbed those lessons by immediately placing students into a work-based environment where they can apply that specialized knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the principles, concepts and techniques of what was taught.

So we modeled the new job interview training program according to the same pattern: expose students to the concept; present real-world examples of how it works; teach the theory and techniques; and then provide a realistic experience where they can practice, assess and improve those skills.

The Challenges

Once we identified the need and what we wanted the training program to accomplish, it was time to determine what we wanted the program to look like and how we were going to make it happen. Gathering teaching materials and carving out the time would not be a problem. However, we still needed to motivate students, and we needed to find a way to give each one a realistic job interview experience. And, since we would be providing this training center-wide within a condensed time frame, we would need to find an efficient way to give more than 500 students that experience. …

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