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Job Search Help: The 5 Most Important Gifts Parents Can Give Their New College Graduate
As winter sets in and graduation dates draw ever closer, most parents’ minds inevitably begin to fix upon the ultimate reward for the education they’ve supported; in other words, on that first real job.
Unless your son or daughter has a degree (or destiny) that leads them directly into a specific role – such as doctor, accountant, lawyer, etc – helping them determine what that first position should be can be far more daunting than helping them determine which college to attend. For one thing, there will be never be another time in their career that offers them more opportunity. The new class of college graduates is the single greatest source of management-capable workforce and the largest entrance pool in the nation. Nearly every major corporation in the world provides an clear, accessible entry point to their workforce for this inexperienced yet high-potential recruit. So how do they decide?
The good news is that, as a parent, you can provide far greater support and encouragement in this effort than simply asking “Have you found a job yet?” In fact, you may actually be able to contribute significantly without being seen as meddling or domineering. The five “gifts” below can go a long way in helping your child begin their new career – and could even be the first steps toward building a new, adult relationship.
1. Listening. Your son or daughter has just spent at least four years attending a school to learn an array of material. They have not been groomed to take on a career. In fact, many of their favorite college professors make a point of persuading students to stay in school for more degrees, not leave for a career. So the idea of what they’ll do with their degree has not been top-of-mind. Even if they graduate with a degree in business, let’s face it: They really have absolutely no idea what’s really “out there.” If they’ve spent time in an internship, they’ve most likely experienced a carefully crafted regimen of “responsibility” and socialization exercises designed to evaluate their aptitude for a position within that company – and bring back good PR to the college campus for future candidate recruitment efforts. Who has your students’ best interests at heart? This is where your knowledge of their strengths, passions, character and ideals can be of great assistance. Spend time listening to help them identify and understand their interests, disinterests, tendencies, habits and vulnerabilities. In what environment do they best perform? Do they find value in being a “big fish in a small pond” with a vague job description or would they rather receive specific direction and a precise career path? Do they care more about the product manufactured by the company or the corporate responsibility and community service efforts? Do they crave communication or would they rather be left to their own devices? These questions can help them begin to formulate their own checklist within their own framework of the most desired attributes of a company and a position.
2. Networking. If there’s a “most important life skill” to learn in the business world, networking would be at the top. This is not your Facebook networking; this is the way that people who intend to establish, groom, maintain and grow relationships in a professional world act, treat others and develop a reputation. The best way to begin this process is to introduce your student to professionals you know in many different fields. Your son or daughter has had such limited opportunity to understand what happens in a company, how a company is run, what type of positions are available within most companies, that they have no frame of reference upon which to draw when searching for a job. Encourage them to ask for informational interviews so they can query various professionals regarding their backgrounds and the attributes of their companies. This will give them an opportunity to begin to establish their own relationships. Don’t believe the hype. The number one source of a job is not on the Internet. The greatest odds of landing a job are still determined by who you know and who knows you.
3. Encouragement. Remind your student to utilize the career services at his/her college or university. This office can provide a wide-range of helpful and valuable tools for resume-writing, aptitude testing, interviewing tips and practice, alumni-networking, on-campus interviewing experiences with companies and career exploration events. You have paid for this service with your tuition. In most cases, your son/daughter will be eligible to take advantage of these services forever, not just upon graduation.
4. Perspective. Remind yourself that this is their job search. The perfect job for you is not necessarily the perfect job for them. The fastest-growing trend in entry-level position compensation is establishing healthcare and retirement benefits. This is not due to an increase in twenty-something retirement issues but, rather, the result of the experiences parents often face having an influence on the decisions and biases of their children. Please refrain from encouraging your student to become enamored with a company because you eat their cereal or recognize their name from a television advertisement. There are many, many exceptional companies who’s success is greater than those you might recognize and who could provide a valuable, fulfilling career path in prominent, lucrative fields.
5. Respect. The grueling, repetitive and exhausting lessons in manners and respect that you’ve taught your child are finally going to play a significant part in your child’s job search and success. Everything you’ve taught them – from not interrupting and looking them in the eye to writing thank you notes and not talking with your mouth full – is going to count for something during this experience. Show them the respect that you have taught them to give. Trust me: They’ll respect you for your advice, encouragement and counsel.
Laurie Byrne / Honor Roll Online
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