Top 10 Takeaways from our 2018 GradLeaders Conference

The 2018 GradLeaders Conference was our biggest and best yet – and was even dubbed “The best conference ever” by many of our partners!

This year's agenda included our 13th annual Connections event pre-Conference as well, where thought leaders from higher education and talent acquisition connected to discuss industry trends and share solutions to the burning challenges in student recruitment and career services. Connections offered lively moderated discussions about working smarter by automating processes including panelists from University of California, Haas School of Business, Northwestern University, McCormick School of Engineering, UC Irvine, Paul Merage School of Business, Cornell University, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Dartmouth College, Tata Consultancy Services, Samsung, and PIMCO as well as a panel on the future of diversity recruitment with panelists from Forté Foundation, ROMBA, MLT and CGSM. Attendees were also able to help shape the future of GradLeaders’ technology by contributing innovative ideas to our brainstorming “Think Tank” sessions.

All of our 2018 GradLeaders Conference attendees had the opportunity to hear keynote Mark White present his tips for thriving in an ever-changing world. The last two days of this year’s event included 30 different breakout sessions for advanced system training. As always, we offered plenty of networking opportunities with scenic rooftop views and games.

The Conference brought together the best and brightest from all GradLeaders’ product lines to network, share best practices and gain tangible insights to take back to the office. Here are some of the most interesting insights and key takeaways from this year’s event:

  1. Employers can provide students the instant gratification they’re seeking by automating processes from application, to offer, to onboarding. Technology can simplify the career discovery, employer identification, job application and interview process by streamlining and personalizing the candidate experience with little-to-no work required for employers, students or career centers.
  2. Culture, climate and career path all play a major part in diversity candidates’ job search process. Career centers and employers should make it abundantly clear what diversity programs and clubs they offer and how they’ll facilitate career mentorship to specifically help diverse people find jobs and career progression opportunities.
  3. Recruitment is like marketing. Employers should use education, content and story-telling that lead to awareness, interest and applications. Employers that host career education sessions such as job hunt skills workshops, and even resume writing courses on campus see more students attending their OCR events than old-fashioned, informational sessions –and build larger pipelines at the top of their recruitment funnels.
  4. To adapt to the constant changes around us, we all need to shift from a growth mindset to a CAT mindset—Cope with today's new styles, Adjust actions, and Transform to be prepared for disruption. Career centers and employers must adapt to the next generation of students if they hope to engage with them and keep their attention. “The key to successfully dealing with change in the 21st century is to implement adaptive mindsets in staff and to use a solving framework built around coping, adjusting, and transforming (CAT)." Read more in our Keynote’s new book, “Leading Schools in Disruptive Times: How To Survive Hyper-Change” by Mark White.
  5. Gen Z primarily consumes content in the form of videos, images and games and they have an average attention span of 8 seconds so any and all communication to students – whether it be job postings or recruitment marketing from employers or advice from career centers – should be optimized for an audience of “skimmers” and “scanners.”
  6. Creating a mentorship program with internal staff, partner organizations and alumni is an effective way for higher education organizations and companies to guide students and new hires through their career exploration process, help them better understand what jobs may be a good fit for them, and what their career path might look like as they progress.
  7. Reporting and data analytics are growing increasingly important in today’s world, especially with the rise of the consumer mentality. Organizations across all sectors must be able to gather key ROI data points, understand what that data says, and promote the value they provide to their constituents. For career centers and employers, data visualization technology and integrations make it easier than ever for schools to prove the value of their education and for companies to provide job-seekers with right-fit opportunities that will result in long-term employment, higher job satisfaction, and accelerated career progression.
  8. Automated communication tools powered by A.I. technology offer a great alternative to manually building exhaustive communication plans and constantly having to create new content to communicate important updates and engage with your very busy and distracted audience. By taking advantage of personalization technology (similar to Netflix or Facebook), you can automatically create career content communications specific to each person’s unique interests and in return, reach more people.
  9. Technology can simplify the job search process and virtually guide students to their dream jobs. GradLeaders' new LAUNCH program, built in partnership with Dartmouth College’s Professional Development Accelerator (PDA), makes it easy for career centers to engage with more students and successfully guide them through a career exploration process that starts with self-assessments and ends with employment.
  10. Employers and career centers agree that quality, accountability, flexibility and transparency are four pillars to consider when evaluating your technology needs. If your tech stack includes these types of solutions it makes it easier to quickly adapt your processes and solve for problems or potential roadblocks that might keep you from achieving your goals.

If you attended this year's Conference and are looking for session presentations, attendee lists, or other resources from the conference, please check your inbox or contact Also be on the lookout for invites to our upcoming mini-conferences called Regional Roundtables later this Summer and Fall!



Ryan Pratt

Ryan Pratt is the Vice President of Marketing and Research at GradLeaders. During his 10+ years at GradLeaders, the network has grown to have now helped over 600,000 employers and 26,500,000 students from more than 1,000 schools around the world. Ryan graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

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