Notice anything about the figure below? Despite all the discussion about parental (over)involvement, students remain steadfast in relying on parents and family members for career support.
So what's a parent to do when seeking to provide tools and support while encouraging full independence and accountability? The parents and students with whom I work identify three approaches to ensure student career development success:
1) Students - Start early in the academic year (now!) to clarify interests, set career goals, and connect with mentors
2) Parents - Encourage ongoing student development for long-term success with multiple plans to identify options
3) Both (Students and Parents) - Welcome professional services that can provide expert guidance and support
Question of the day: Our 22-year-old son is set to graduate this May with a degree in Political Science. He has not expressed any clear path he wants to take professionally. As much as we are frustrated by his lack of focus and planning, we are more worried about his future. How do we help him find a job?
I’m grateful for this parent’s permission to share her request for help. As the effects of the recovering economy linger, more and more students are finding themselves living at home and unemployed after graduation much to parent dismay.
The facts support this continued pilgrimage home. Take, for example, the findings collected by the folks at Accenture, where more than 2,000 students and companies shared their perceptions of the class of 2014. When compared with the experiences of recent grads in the working world, more than 38% (or one-third) of the graduating class responded that they were planning to live at home after graduation. 42% of the graduates from 2012 and 2013 said they were also currently living at home (Accenture 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey).
So what’s a weary and financially exhausted mom to do with no gainful employment for her son on the horizon? Craft resumes? Submit job applications? Collect grad school information? Cold call friends to find placement?
My response is an enthusiastic YES to all of the above, as long as your student does the work. Without doing the work himself, there’s nothing to be gained enabling him in this critical process. Worst yet, you risk sending the message that he isn’t capable.
Feeling torn about the college to career process and how you fit in? Consider the perspectives of employers and graduate school committees taking calls from a parent. Is this the best indicator of your student’s ability to communicate with future clients or do graduate level work?
Developmentally-speaking, not all 22 year-olds arrive in the same place at the same time. Some make clearer career choices earlier while others struggle through a longer period of trial and error. Wherever your student is on the career development path, your ongoing encouragement and empathy will go a long way to helping him identify his best fit in the world. Setting expectations, encouraging short- and long-term plans, identifying potential contacts and opportunities, and encouraging him to fully utilize campus and professional resources are all appropriate ways to assist. Doing the work for him, overcompensating, defining his career objectives, or even assigning blame are all counter-productive behaviors to avoid.
One last thing: In my experience, being mom (or dad) is a hard enough gig; adding career coach or college counselor to that job is very seldom a good idea. Those of us in the profession are the first ones to welcome the assistance of others beside us. If you do your (developmentally-appropriate) part and insist your son does his, success will often take care of itself.
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Are you spending more than an hour each day scouring job postings in search of a new job?
If yes, stop.
These published postings are part of the visual job market and result in the submission of hundreds (even thousands) of resumes. While searching the visual market may provide leads and land an interview, hiring managers are more likely to prioritize internal candidates and referrals previously identified in the hidden job market.
That’s the market I want you to shop.
Instead of spending an hour or two daily hunting fresh postings, I want you to re-focus your primary effort on making connections and optimizing your online branding. Not only will this activity help you learn more about how to break into a job or field but it’s also where recruiters are hoping to find you.
Unsure where to start? Here are three quick steps you can take today to enter the hidden market:
I really appreciate that you are reading my post. I regularly write about career and college success. If you would like to read my regular posts, please visit my Facebook page and click the "like" button to follow me. You can also connect with me via Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Liz is a married mother of three and soon-to-be empty nester. With her youngest about to accept an early admission decision to her dream school and twins in their second year at the local state university, Liz is both excited and anxious about the transition ahead.
Eager to tackle a new challenge beyond the inconsistent part-time work she has juggled since leaving the workforce 17 years ago, Liz yearns to land a full-time position to invest her time and energy. Of equal importance to her is the ability to increase her earnings to help contribute to the family’s growing tuition needs. Having spent the past few months helping Liz explore the logistics of her return to full-time work and roles that she would find fulfilling, we are now ready to bring her resume into the 21st century.
Our first session dusting off her document starts easy enough with a nostalgic trip down memory lane. After narrating her career path from college graduate to parenthood, some self-doubt creeps in:
Liz: Look at the dates on this. I’m a dinosaur.
MH: If I told you that we were nearing five generations in the workplace at once, would that reassure you about your place in the world?
Liz: Um, maybe. Should I just leave off the dates and use that functional kind of format you talked about?
MH: We’re definitely going to combine a functional and chronological approach to help you leverage your skills and experiences, but the dates are important, too.
Since my private college and career practice frequently involves working with clients from the same family, I often find myself in the fantastic task of helping clients of all ages navigate the stages of career development from education and exploration to the job search. Having helped Liz’s children discover their own place in today’s ever-changing world, my focus now shifts to helping “Mom” develop her own sure footing:
Liz: I totally trust you, but tell me: Are the dates a way to ensure I’m not lying?
MH: More than anything, sharing the dates of your education and experience demonstrates how open and honest you are. My first reaction when reading a resume with missing dates is that the candidate is hiding something. When reviewing resumes with omitted dates, I urge clients to use transparency so no one feels deceived during the job search process.
Liz: But how do I prevent discrimination?
MH: We can’t prevent age bias – it’s a risk and reality of the job search. What we can control however, is the ability to present your dynamic skills and qualifications in way that engages the reader, proves your value to the workforce, and initiates an interview.
Liz: Got it. I’m still a dinosaur, though.
MH: Okay, as long as you don’t use that reference in an interview. Remind me to start your mock interview session sooner than later. I’m eager to debunk that myth for you, too!
Counselor. Mentor. Dream Developer. I am a veteran college and career consultant helping clients of all ages prepare and perform for success!