There are few things more discouraging for a parent than to see their offspring graduate from school without opportunities or a plan. While some students move effortlessly from college to first job, the majority of graduates who choose work over graduate school will find the transition daunting and challenging. A tightened economy with limited opportunities doesn’t make it easier. And too many graduates take any job rather than seek "gateway" positions that can lead to a career path.
What’s a parent to do?
Boost their confidence. Help them make a list of their translatable strengths and skills that can bring value to an employer. What’s translatable: computer skills; a leadership position in a school organization such as club or sorority; entrepreneurial skills; participation in a team sport.
Network your family’s database. Sit down with your graduate and make a list of every person you know that could be a lead or a connection. I’m talking about business associates, lawyers, accountants, neighbors, long-lost cousins, even your dermatologist. You need to broadcast that Susie is looking for a job because through this seemingly innocent networking, you will acquire information that could be useful.
Encourage them to find a mentor. Someone looking for a job is going to need all the emotional support they can get. Once again look at your family’s database and see if there’s a friend or family member who will share their own job-hunting stories, give them tips and honest feedback on their marketing materials. Graduates should not underestimate the emotional toll a job search may exact on their confidence and self-esteem. A mentor or adviser can not only show them the way but get them back into the saddle if they fall off.
Keep talking. Remind them to send a thank you note. Encourage them to revise and rewrite their cover letters so that they’re persuasive and specific to the job they’re applying for. Suggest that they take an internship in their field rather than take a paying job that’s clearly going nowhere. And keep telling them they’re terrific.