On The Job


9 Ways for Parents to Help Their Job-Hunting Kids

Liz Ryan

Here are nine ways to help get your new college grad off the couch and into the workforce.



It’s graduation season, a mixed blessing for many parents. On one hand, their children are finally finished with school, and the last tuition payment has been made. On the other, there’s a good chance their son or daughter is heading back home without a first job nailed down.

For all of the parents who are concerned that their child may lose focus while waiting for a job offer, don’t fret. Here are nine ways to help get your new college grad off the couch and into the workforce.

Make a Job-Search Contract

If your daughter will be living with you, or if you’re helping her with living expenses, make a financial agreement sooner rather than later. Will you require her to take a survival job while she is under your roof or living on your dime? If so, spell that out. If you need your daughter to commit to certain job-search milestones, make that clear, too. If you’re still in the mix financially, as many parents of new grads are, you have a voice in your child’s job-search tactics. Don’t run the show, but don’t be afraid to make your requirements known.

Help Your Child Set a Direction

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The biggest problem many new-grad job seekers face is a lack of direction. It’s easy to understand a kid’s plea, “I’ll take nearly any job,” but that sort of branding isn’t attractive to employers. You can help your son zero in on one or two job-search directions that are more promising than others.

Look for the intersection of three elements: what your son is good at, what he likes to do and where a market need exists. You can learn what employers are looking for by using a job-aggregation site, such as Indeed.com.

Create a Job-Search Strategy

It’s easy to lose focus once final exams and graduation are behind you. Help your child create a job-search plan that includes an initial career path, job-search activities and a timeline. And if your kid decides to take a job to help make ends meet while the career job search progresses, you’ll need to cut back on the job-search activities to make room. In this case, designating an hour per day, five days a week to focus solely on job searching -- be it trolling job search engines or attending networking events -- is reasonable.

Target Employers

Once your new grad knows which direction he’s headed (pursuing entry-level marketing jobs at software companies, for instance), you can help start researching employers. The best tool for that purpose is LinkedIn.com. Not only does it include a huge database of employers and the identities of the managers who work there, it’s also a useful resource for connecting with employers, industry associations and other networkers.

Help Your Child Network

Networking is always critical in a job search, and that’s especially true for new grads. Help your child reach out to every working or formerly working adult she knows. Contacts may include friends of yours, her friends’ parents, former teachers and more.

Now is the time to call in every networking chip. There’s no statute of limitations on human relationships, so get your kid over the hurdle. If your daughter balks and tells you, “But I barely even remember her!” respond by saying, “Don’t worry -- if Mrs. Barnes down the street saw you riding your Big Wheel up and down her sidewalk every day, she’ll remember you.”

Do Your Own Networking on Your Child’s Behalf

Along with teaching your child to network, this is a great time to make introductions throughout your own professional and social circles. If you worry that making introductions for your son is akin to sticking a silver spoon in his mouth, remember that your child still has to navigate the interview process on his own. When your college grad is 40, you won’t be opening doors for him, but at this stage in his life and in this economy, go for it.

Know Their Value

Recent college grads often don’t know how much jobs typically pay. Glassdoor.com, Salary.com and Payscale.com are three good sites for getting the salary scoop. Help your child know her worth before hitting the job market. Employers are going to ask for a salary requirement, and your young job-seeker needs to have one.

Practice the Interview

If your daughter won’t practice going through an interview with you because she’s worried you may be too tough, enlist the help of a friend to put her to the test. There’s nothing like practicing an interview to alert you to conversational areas that need strengthening.

And be sure to cover the standard, hard interview questions: Where do you see yourself in five years? Of all the candidates we are considering, why should we hire you? And what is your greatest weakness?

Stay Motivated

Apart from a lack of direction, another major challenge for young job seekers is that they aren’t excited to find a job and get out on their own. Reinforce your child’s self-esteem and motivation by reminding him that he has unique qualities employers need.

Helping your child understand his job-market value and preparing him for the interview process will help boost his mojo. Getting a job is a mix of hard skills and confidence -- don’t focus on one and neglect the other.



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