Tips for Parents
A December Graduate’s Guide to Finding a Job
If your college student is graduating in December and doesn’t have a job yet, you may both be feeling a bit anxious about what the new year will hold.
According to an article by the Economic Policy Institute (“Despite an Improving Economy, Young Grads Still Face an Uphill Climb“), although the Great Recession is over the employment prospects of new college graduates haven’t caught up.
Your December grad may move back home to continue (or begin!) the job search. Here is advice on how you can best support the process.
If your grad moves home, it may feel like a return to his high school days, but a lot has changed. Resist the urge to slip back into your comfy old parental role. Do expect him to pitch in with grocery shopping and cooking, at least once or twice a week. Don’t wake him up, do his laundry, or micro-manage his job search.
You might be tempted to tap into your own professional network to ask about job prospects for your student. However, finding a job is part of transitioning into adulthood, and if your student wants to include your contacts in his search, he needs to be involved each step of the way.
This a big time of transition for your student. Recent graduates who aren’t sure about what they want to do next may be at risk for anxiety and depression. Provide emotional support and encouragement, and time and space to work through his feelings. Patience doesn’t mean his unemployment should be expected to continue indefinitely; agree with him on a timeline for living at home or receiving financial support from you, so you both have an end date in sight. Then set goals, like securing temporary or part-time employment, so he has an income before launching his career.
Many college students expect to take the world by storm immediately, landing the perfect job and sprinting up the corporate ladder in just a few months. As parents, you might just want to see your graduate with a salary and health insurance.
You can let him to hold tight to his dreams while also providing a reality check. Launching a career usually means starting on the ground floor and he may need to cast his net wider and consider job openings that don’t fit his original vision. Many entry-level jobs will provide good experience if not prestige.
As you encourage your graduate’s job hunt, offer these four tips:
- Research. Even if your grad doesn’t know exactly what kind of job he’s looking for, he should have a few general goals in mind. Location, industry, company size, organization structure and employer values are all things to consider before applying for a job. By researching companies and positions before firing off a batch of cover letters and resumes, your grad will not get as burned out or discouraged during the job application process.
- Attention to detail. Cover letters should be tailored for the specific company and job description, and the recipient’s name in the body of the e-mail should match the cover letter. Your grad can demonstrate his research by pulling pertinent details (in his own words) from the company’s website. Careful proofreading is essential — the resume and cover letter should be spotless and without typos or grammatical or spelling errors. Following application instructions and providing exactly what the potential employer wants is also key.
- Network. If your grad hasn’t already contacted previous professors and bosses, encourage him to let them know he’s on the lookout for a particular job. By staying connected with his already established networks from college, clubs, family, work and even high school, your grad will be more visible in his job search. University alumni groups and young professional associations in your area are great places to socialize and network.
- Confidence. Rejection is part of job searching. Support your grad through the process, and when he doesn’t hear back or is rejected by potential employers, remind him that he’s one step closer to landing the job that’s right for him. If your grad is genuinely confident in his education, experience, skills, ambition and goals, he will eventually attract the right employer.
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