Capturing the Untapped Market: Directionless Drifters

Career Outcomes: The Key to Effective Enrollment Marketingis a six-part blog series that explores how postsecondary institutions can combat declining enrollments by appealing to untapped market segments. New to the series?Find Part 1 here. 

Deciding to change careers is one thing – but knowing whichcareer to pursue is quite another. A recent report by EAB found that 39% of working adults who are actively seeking to change careers said they faced “uncertainty [about] what career to choose.”   

EAB calls these adult learners who have no idea what career or program to pursue directionless drifters. Like the skeptical enrolleeand the aspiring career changer, the directionless drifter presents a growth opportunity for postsecondary institutions, but their uncertainty also poses a unique challenge. How do you market to someone who doesn’t even know what they want?

The answer is simple: Help them find what they want.     

Help Directionless Drifters” Discover the Career Value of Higher Education 

The directionless drifter needs more than a standard career discovery resource to figure out their career path. Because they may not have a “passion” to follow, they need extra help – and extra information – to find their path. A career discovery resource that uses high-quality labor market data to pinpoint exactly which skills and jobs are most in-demand is exactly what these indecisive prospects need to feel confident as they set career goals and enroll in the program(s) of study needed to pursue them.  

Here are some strategies – inspired by labor market research from Burning Glass Technologies and a recent report by EAB – for using data-driven career discovery resources to attract working learners and grow enrollment. To implement these best practices, your institution will first need to create program-to-career and/or career-to-program alignments (get step-by-step instructions and more in our previous posts in Burning Glass’ blog series Career Outcomes: The Key to Effective Enrollment Marketing).    

Appeal to Working Learners’ Personal Interests 

It may be surprising to learn that the No. 1 reason workers look for a new job is boredom. Bored employees can easily transform into directionless drifters: They don’t like what they’re doing now but aren’t sure what they would like to do instead.   

For these workers, it won’t work to ask what their career goals are – they may not know. Instead, start with their personal interests. Which skills do they have and enjoy using? Do they enjoy interacting with people or do they prefer uninterrupted periods of focused work? How important is money in their career decisions? These questions could be part of a simple quiz or incorporated into a dynamic online questionnaire. At the end, the results can reveal career options that are matched to programs of study that prospects can take to pursue that career path. Seeing how personal interests, plus the right education, can open a new career path can be a great way to get these workers excited about attending classes.

Boost Working Learners’ Earning Potential 

Almost 1 out of 5 career changers saying their main priority for a new job is a higher salary. Considering “job switchers” have greater wage growth than “job stayers,” changing careers is an appealing option for working adults looking to increase their earnings – even if they’re not sure what career to change to.  

To appeal to these wage-driven prospects, show how they can maximize their earning potential. Offer a career discovery resource that lets them enter their desired income level to see a list of matching careers and associated programs of study. Better still, show the return on investment: The cost of higher education is relatively tiny compared to their increased lifetime earning potential.   

This resource could be especially powerful if it used real-time labor market data, which we provide in a variety of solutions. Real-time data allows institutions to report actual salaries and job titles that potential students could find in their area. This local data is far more compelling than generic national or state-level data, which may reference salaries far under or over what local employers actually offer.   

Leverage Working Learners’ Career Ambitions 

The old saying is true: Money isn’t everything. When surveyed, 63% of professionals would take a promotion with no pay raise over a pay raise with no promotion. Yet less than half are satisfied with the opportunities for promotion in their current organization. Without a clear path for advancement, they may feel their career has lost its momentum and direction.  

Postsecondary institutions can appeal to these frustrated workers through career discovery resources that reveal new paths to career advancement. For example, consider the Cyberseek™ website, which identifies exactly which skills a software developer needs to learn to switch into a high-demand job in cybersecurity. Resources like this allow directionless drifters to build out their own personalized pathway, starting with their current career. This helps them discover new opportunities they can achieve through your institution’s programs.

Personalized, Real-Time Career Discovery Tool for Working Learners 

Because not all drifters are directionless for the same reason, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will appeal to all of them equally. Luckily, Career Insight by Burning Glass Technology provides multiple approaches in one comprehensive solution.  

  • A custom-built recommendation engine helps potential students discover new career options based on their skill set and priorities
  • Personalized reports show top career matches, alongside potential job titles and salaries 
  • Robust career resources help admissions counselors show prospective students how specific programs can increase their salary or advancement potential 

Since Career Insight links all this career path data back to your institution’s specific programs of study, it turns the act of career discovery and exploration into a powerful recruiting tool for all types of learners.    

 How does Career Insight work? Schedule your personal tour today.  

Beyond boosting enrollment by attracting more working learners, career outcomes tools have an incredible added bonus: They’re highly effective with traditional students. In our next post, we’ll explore why career outcomes are essential for higher education’s largest student segment.   

Next Post: Commanding the Current Market: Traditional Students  >> 

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