Today, there are helicopter parents who want to control every aspect of their child’s life and boomerang children who continue to live with their parents after graduating from college. However, most parents just want to help their child, and most college grads want to support themselves. There are a few things parents and other well-wishers can do to help a college grad get a job.
The parent can start by helping their new college grad network. This means the grad should meet as many people as he or she can who are in a position to help them understand the job market. They can meet their parent’s friends, go to their college career office and find contacts or talk to family business associates, college alumni and even their next door neighbors. The aim is to have an informational interview with as many people as possible where the grad will learn occupational information including getting a picture of the inside workings of several different companies. This type of interview is less stressful than an interview for a position.
Even though it is not a job interview, the grad should conduct him or herself in a professional manner. This means dress conservatively, arrive on time and be prepared with relevant questions about the company or business and send a thank you note afterwards. The grad should also know the name of the person whom they are meeting. Some of the questions the grad can ask are:
• How the company runs on a day-to-day basis?
• What are the education requirements for an entry-level position?
• Is there an internship available?
• What skills do employers look for?
• What are the salary ranges?
• What are the chances for advancement?
• What advice can the employer give?
Parents can encourage their grad to accept an internship in their field of interest even if it is unpaid. They may also consider low-paid work just to accumulate experience. Many employers consider candidates who have shown motivation in taking these types of jobs are better suited for their company than a candidate who has done nothing but interview for jobs. The same can be said for taking a short-term course that awards a certificate. This also shows motivation and will enhance anyone’s resume.
Parents can also encourage their grad to participate in volunteer programs in their local community or on a larger scale such as the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. This will look good on their resume, make them feel worthwhile and make them appear more valuable when they do search for work.
Parents should also help their child learn how to attend interviews. There are tips for making a good first impression, and parents can conduct a mock interview using the typical questions an interviewer may ask. Some of the most common questions the human resources people ask candidates are:
• Why do they want the job? The answer should express how the grad’s qualifications can make a difference. They can say that it seems tailored for their competencies. The answer must focus on the company and not the candidate.
• What is their greatest strength? The grad needs to express strengths that align with the needs of the company and makes them appear like the best candidate for that particular position.
• What is their greatest weakness? The candidate should only mention being weak in any skills that are not relevant for the position. The candidate can also turn a negative into a positive by saying they are sticklers for perfection.
• What qualification do they have that make them right for the position? The answer to this question is basically a personal sales pitch. The candidate should emphasize his or her skills, enthusiasm, knowledge and other qualities that make them seem a good fit for the company.
• What are their goals for the future? This can be a trick question because the employer will not want someone who is planning to move on soon. This is not the place for the candidate to say they want to have a family or go back to college for a further degree. One good answer is that they want to grow with the company. Another is that they want to move from a technical position to a management position. They can also ask a question as an answer such as what is the career path in this company for their skills.
There are many reasons why a recent college graduate may not want to find work, and the parents need to help keep them motivated. Parents can reinforce their child’s self-esteem be reminding them that they have an excellent education in their field and would be an asset to any company. When the grad feels support and encouragement, they will not only make a bigger effort to find work, they will also gain confidence in their abilities and make a better impression in their interview.
By Andre Bradley