Jobs for Recent Grads: How to Help (or Hinder)

Parents are increasingly concerned about their student’s employment during and after college. As a result, they have become more involved in their grown children’s search for jobs and summer internships. The involvement is understandable…competition for these positions grows with 2 million students graduating each year, plus a fluctuating job market and the effort is more difficult. Parents are anxious to get a return on their investment after four (or more) years of tuition, as well as get their child financially independent as soon as possible to manage any outstanding debt from student loans and move out.

Families are also relying on campus mentors to help their child land that coveted internship or first job. When students need help, should mentors and parents step in and show them the way OR step aside and let them figure it out? Here is some advice on how to navigate this balance
of where your role fits into their job search… and when it may be too much.

Helping vs. Doing

If asked, read their resume, cover letters, thank you notes, and LinkedIn profile – but don’t create them. These should be reviewed primarily for spelling, grammar, and formatting – you can offer advice on content, but you should not write it. It’s hard to resist writing but encourage the student to edit based on your ideas and let them write it. Interviewees have an easier time when they are articulating their own work, rather than the words of their parents or mentors.

Preparation vs. Execution

So much behind-the-scenes work goes into the job search. Talk to students about their skills and what you have observed in their capabilities. This is the first step to preparing for an interview. Make sure their story is concise and focused, so they know what to say to a hiring manager. Help conduct mock interviews so they can practice with a safe audience. Or have them practice recording themselves for a virtual interview. Then, let them go on their own.

Mentor vs. Partner

Simply put, you are not a team. You are not both looking for a millennial job. If a parent or mentor has interview/hiring experience, industry-related experience, or specific company knowledge, then, by all means, there should be conversations where you can share details on the hiring process. Giving guidance on who to connect with and some dos and don’ts regarding office etiquette is great. However, think about how you would mentor a friend’s child and what advice you would offer to someone you are not related to if you were trying to help them along.

Introduce vs. Connect

It is great to make introductions, but the student must be the one to set up the meeting, communicate directly and follow up promptly. The student needs to be prepared and cannot assume they will get the job based on the relationship. Encourage young adults to network and talk with more people face to face, over video, or over the phone. Passively applying to jobs online has a very low success rate.

Encourage vs. Hover

This one is hard…Give them space. As much as it is stressful about the future of your student’s employment, you need to let them work through the process. It takes time, patience, and perseverance. The more you can support them and be a sounding board, they will start to realize how smart you are. Giving them an opportunity to move forward, and realize successes and/or failures, is what they need for their future independence.

A few thoughts on when a parent or mentor might have gone too far. If you are writing letters, making phone calls to employers on their behalf, and actively searching for job opportunities for them on a daily basis, it’s time to take it down a notch. We all want the best for our kids, we just need to give them a chance.

Sometimes having an experienced career coach can help balance this delicate relationship….and take the pressure off both student and parent with this daunting task of seeking employment. The team at Next Great Step welcomes the opportunity to speak with you via a FREE Complimentary Consultation. We will answer your questions and share how we guide students to success in getting a job or internship today.

Beth Hendler-Grunt is the president of Next Great Step and an associate member of the AHEPPP. Learn on Tuesday, January 24th at 2:30 pm ET during our January webinar: "Helping Parents Navigate the Job Search: Hiring Trends for Recent Grads." Register here! 


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