Knowing Your Audience
Activity 1 – Identify Your Goals
Working with your department, division, or college-wide focus group, complete How Can Your Employers Help Your Program. This will help you to think broadly about future goals and what roles employers can play.
Activity 2 – Identify Employers
Develop an internal checklist of roles and responsibilities for the college staff and faculty team.
Research employers before meeting with them. Visit the “About Us” sections of company websites to learn more about employers and their services and products. This will help you align the college’s terminology with that of the employer.
For each of the industry sectors you plan to target (e.g., manufacturing, healthcare, IT), identify sources of information needed to compile lists of employers. Sources may include:
- Local chamber of commerce directory
- Economic development organization member directory
- Workforce development board members
- College foundation board members and donor list
- Graduate placement survey data
- College databases or lists of employers (department, division, or college level)
- Brainstorming with faculty
Complete Identifying Employer Contacts to determine who at your college can assist you in making contacts with these organizations.
Once you have identified employers in a chosen sector, add their names to the Employer Engagement Worksheet and place an “X” in the box indicating each employer’s involvement. You may need to work with other departments at your college to complete this form.
Note: If your college uses a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, you can enter this data into the software.
This activity will provide a snapshot of currently engaged employers, future opportunities with existing employers, and new employers to reach out to for engagement opportunities.
Activity 3 – Create an Outreach Plan
From your completed grid, determine which employers have no “Xs.”
- Working with your department, division, and perhaps your college’s business outreach and marketing staff, brainstorm ways to perform outreach to the employers with no “Xs.”
- Using the Outreach Plan Worksheet, identify the people from your college who will make the initial contact with each employer, how the outreach will be made, what information will be shared, how the outreach will be tracked, and how the information gathered will be shared at the college. Consider asking your workforce/economic development board or chamber of commerce partners to introduce you to employers who are also members of their organizations.
From your completed grid, determine which employers have some “Xs” but could benefit from deeper engagement.
- Since these employers are already engaged in some way, determine who from your college is involved in that engagement and develop a plan for reaching out to those employers. You can use the Outreach Plan Worksheet for this activity as well.
IMPORTANT: Ideas may include personally inviting employers to a college event and scheduling time to visit them to learn about their businesses.
Activity 4 – Continuing Outreach
Consider following all the employers on your Employer Engagement Worksheet on social media.
- Identify the person(s) from your college who can do this.
- If any of your targeted employers are in the news (for new product releases, awards received, business expansion, hiring, etc.), interact with them by sending a handwritten note expressing interest or congratulations.
- Increased employer engagement
- Increased understanding of depth of engagement (Which employers are most engaged with your program and/or college?)
- Identification of gaps in employer engagement (Which employers are you not serving?)
Activity 5 – Create a Glossary
Create a glossary of terms and acronyms used by the college (to include terms such as "work-based learning," "credit for prior learning," and "industry-recognized credentials"). This can be useful in creating a shared language that the college and employers both understand.