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Alumni a “non-factor” for US grad employability

Alumni networks are less helpful for a graduate’s success in the job market than previously thought, a survey by Gallup has found.

Institutions need to invest more resources into alumni networks with an employability focus. Photo: rawpixel/Pixabay

This may mean that institutions need to up their game to create more efficient networks

Measuring the perceptions of the usefulness of an alumni network to land a job after graduation, the survey found that alumni have been a helpful or very helpful ally in the job market only for 9% of graduates.

The vast majority of the 5,100 respondents said they found alumni “neither helpful nor unhelpful,” while 22% reported they had been unhelpful.

“Our Generation Z expects to graduate into a global network”

The analysis also found some minor, but statistically significant differences in how useful graduates perceived their alumni networks to be: those graduating from an elite institution perceived them as more helpful than their peers from lower-ranked universities.

They key to analyse these findings is in the expectations students have to find employment after graduation and how at present few alumni networks have been “mobilised” with a focus on employability in mind.

This may mean that institutions need to up their game to create more efficient networks.

“Gallup research suggests that making an alumni network useful takes work and intentionality and that most alumni networks are not actively engaged in supporting fellow alumni in the job market,” explained an article penned by Gallup’s Zac Auter and Stephanie Marken, who defined alumni networks a “non-factor” in the job market for many graduates.

For Gretchen Dobson,  president, global alumni relationships, at Academic Assembly, this means that institutions need to invest in staffing, volunteer management and effective data management, monitoring alumni careers.

“Our Generation Z expects to graduate into a global network, and our 2017 research into Global Alumni Relations Management in the U.S. showed there is much work to do to develop, foster and leverage relationships with alumni at home and abroad,” she told The PIE News.

Institutions, she explained, can start by inviting current students (domestic and international) to be part of the process of connecting with alumni who have volunteered or donated in the past few years, and then scale up the effort.

“The Gallup poll speaks to perceptions about the brand of one’s alma mater. That becomes an alum’s personal brand as well so it’s critical that alumni relations strategic plans align with the institutions’ longer-range strategic objectives focusing on global employability outcomes,” she added.

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