Democracy is a wonderful concept when applied in the right sense based on a well written constitution or framework. Democratizing something is even more beautiful when done with restraint, within a well-defined boundary, under a close supervision of a watchdog. If not, any attempt to democratize something could be a well disguised effort to attain dictatorship or monopoly.  

When it comes to Career Services Management platforms, some providers have started providing free access to students and with a promise to open more job opportunities for them. Students lured by these promises, create accounts on those platforms without understanding the fact that even those platforms are for profit corporates. In that case, why do they offer it free for your students? Especially, when they sell the paid version of their platform at a premium rate and not all schools can afford them. So, do you believe there is no difference between the jobs and internships provided to the paid customers and free customers? That’s something that needs serious contemplation from the career centers, especially the smaller schools that cannot afford to pay for these premium priced platforms. 

Where do the platforms make money if your students are not paying? 

Data is a gold mine. The amount of student data on the platform has tremendous monetary value for those who are funding such “open” platforms. Also, they make money from Employers who recruit from their platform. They charge them to get candidate traffic. These platforms will on-board recruiters and charge them for recruiting on those platforms. These free platforms don’t allow the recruiters to be able to reach the students unless the recruiters / employers pay for the service – basically not useful if your local employers are not willing to pay for this rather free service.  This eliminates the whole premise that students get more opportunities to jobs. While, you may think, that’s a good for the students – Yes, that’s good for the students from universities that are paying for the platform and have relationship with recruiters. The probability of free student profiles getting hired is bleak. Also, the jobs shown to free student profiles get access to may not be curated for them as they are not focused toward the school’s specialty and niche. End of the day, there is always a difference between free and paid when a paid version exists and sells at a premium rate. 

Go for platforms that you can afford – Own it! 

There are several CSM platforms that are economically priced and provides premium features, curated jobs and internship opportunities and gives you complete control on your career center. While evaluating a Career Services Management platform, career centers should focus on how the system is helping them to create and manage a controlled career services ecosystem with career services staff at the helm. They should be selecting a system that has a robust workflow engine, real-time reports and analytics, smart job recommendation engine with AI and alerts. Legacy systems may claim to have a long list of customers, but the fact is that the students generally are not keen on using such systems. Students require a system which is easy to use with look and feel like the popular social media platforms.  

It may not be a good idea to let your students have accounts on free platforms as you lose control on your Alumni base in the long-run and student data in the short run. Effectiveness of the career services function cannot be justified when students are on multiple free systems and waste time applying for non-curated jobs and internship opportunities. Get your own platform today that works for you, not the other way around.