Help your college grad get on a career path
By Dan Moran
In my practice, I mostly work with professionals seeking new jobs or those in “second career” mode. Around this time of year, I hear from parents of recent college graduates who ask for my help in guiding their son or daughter to find a job.
It is very common for a recent graduate to be confused as to their career direction, job targets and job search plan. Unfortunately, college career offices are usually not equipped to provide help other than with resume writing or interviewing skills. This leaves the graduate somewhat lost while trying to navigate this process on their own.
The good news is that recent studies show a strong market for today’s college grads in spite of the economic turndown we have been experiencing nationally. Collegegrad.com reports that hiring for recent grads is up 11.8% in 2008. And right here in the Capital Region the job market is humming along better than other markets. There should be plenty of opportunities; it just takes a plan to find and land that ideal job.
1. Understand & support – don’t critique
What is most important – as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends or neighbors – is that we understand this is a tough and somewhat scary transition time for a college grad. All the book learning in college has not prepared them for what is about to happen next. Finding their first “real” job can be stressful, intimidating and often will shake one’s confidence. Turn this understanding into support and don’t critique. Give your graduate a bit of time to settle in and find their bearings. Don’t hand them the want-ads every morning. Rapid fire and constant critique will cause a war and disconnect for sure.
2. Provide resources
One thing is for sure – looking for a job or career today is very different than in previous years. Want-ads continue to diminish as technology reigns for job hunting. Three years ago LinkedIn wasn’t really well known, but today it’s a key job search tool. Huge job board sites like Monster, CareerBuilder and others, now face steep competition from over 40,000 job boards nationally, regionally and locally. Technology has made it much easier to look for a job than it has in the past.
Your recent graduate knows where to look using technology, but may need other resources to help them (beyond food, water, laundry and a place to sleep). If you sense that he or she is confused or needs a clearer direction of what type of job or career would be the right fit, offer ideas and perhaps a referral to a career professional or other trusted resource who can help. Encourage them to talk to people in jobs they would be interested in, this is known as informational interviewing. Maybe their resume looks like all the others in the job market—dare them to be different and try a new approach.
If it looks like they are spending a good part of their day on the computer searching, don’t critique – they are doing it right.
Above all, use the power of your personal and professional network to help. Let your contacts know your child is looking and encourage their ideas and feedback. Offer to do the same for their recent grad as well (the power of networking is to not only ask, but to give back as well).
3. Encourage planning
This is where most recent college grads go wrong (as well as seasoned career professionals) in their approach. Absent of a plan, strategy and goals, they try to do it all without focusing on job search tactics. I utilize and teach the Get Hired NOW! methodology to drive a plan, strategy and goals that are critical to landing a job. This program helps a job seeker select the approaches they will use in their search that they are comfortable doing and supports the approaches with specific and measurable goals.
Your role is to encourage your recent grad to perform their job search with a plan and strategy – one that they can measure results, which will provide direction, confidence and help remove fear.
4. Be a cheerleader
Rather than critique, be a cheerleader and celebrate the smallest of achievements or accomplishments. Celebrate an interview (even if it hasn’t led to a job), a meeting or conversation with one of your contacts or a contact they developed on their own. Cheer them on – let them know you have faith in their ability. It makes a world of difference.
They may not get it right the first time, and will probably find themselves in the wrong job, which happens (and let them know this is common early on in careers). They will eventually find their way, get it right and will soon be providing advice and guidance to other new and recent college graduates.
Dan Moran is president & founder of Next-Act, a career management & transition firm located in Colonie. He specializes in helping people make career choices and seek new jobs. He is also a Certified Facilitator for Get Hired Now! and Get Clients Now! Programs, which help those in career transition and companies get results. He mentors managers & executives as they navigate their careers and achievements. You can reach him at 641.8968 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.next-act.com.