Congratulations! Your College Student Is Graduating!

How Parents Can Help Their Children with Job Searching

As a parent of a college student, I can only imagine that you have some angst about where your child will land. The job search process for college students can be difficult, and you want them to have a great opportunity after they’ve finished their program or as they start to build their skills. You want them to be independent and charge forward productively.

You did this for them when they took their first steps, rode their first two-wheel bike, and even went off to college; it’s what you do. And now you want to help them on this next adventure. Don’t fret. You can most certainly help with job searching for your college student.

First, let me give you some facts.  The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently published a study that showed that only 50.2% of the class of 2020 had full-time jobs with a traditional employer (which means it wasn’t freelance or an entrepreneurial position) within six months of graduation. So, the flip side is that roughly 50% did not. This number isn’t that different from 2019 when the number with jobs was 55.3%. I’m giving you this information so you’re not panicked if your child doesn’t have an offer and a position upon graduation. Indeed, that is the goal, but that is not necessarily the norm.

Here are three tips that might help you be a great coach and advocate for your child.

Encourage your college student to use their campus career center.

If your child is attending a school with a campus career center, encourage them to make appointments and use available resources. Remember, you are paying for those services! Many career service centers offer a one-on-one review of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, preparations for interviews, job search resources such as Handshake, and job compensation evaluations.

The career service center typically maintains a list of alumni that your student can network with to understand more about the field, the company environments, and even potential job opportunities.

As a side note, many colleges and universities specifically address how parents can help their college students excel during their time on campus and afterward. Be sure to check your student’s school website for how you might be able to foster career development in your child.

Encourage networking by scouring your network.

You can help your college student’s job search by connecting them to people currently working in their area of interest by looking into your professional network. Helping them connect for informational interviews better positions them to understand what they’re getting into and potential market opportunities. I’ve covered how to approach information interviews in a prior blog post.

Many parents I talk with will say that they don’t have the contacts in their immediate network to help their students. For example, perhaps one parent is a nurse, and the student wants to become a financial analyst. For the student and the parent, my advice is to expand what you consider your network to be.

The parent that’s a nurse may have worked with someone during a school fundraising effort, and that person is a financial analyst. It doesn’t have to be somebody you work with or met during a work effort. As a parent, think about your second-and third-degree connections and how they may be able to help your child.

But one word of caution: make sure you speak to your child about this idea before making connections on their behalf. The students should be driving the connection process; you are the conduit.

They will have more than one shot at finding “the perfect opportunity.”

This may not be a tip as much as a reminder. More than likely, your college student will not find their perfect opportunity right out of school. If you did, then kudos to you. Most don’t. Most people don’t stay in jobs for decades in today’s job market. I recently saw the statement that the average person changes jobs 12 times in their lifetime. (Zippia, The Career Expert). Another significant statistic – about 56% of undergraduates expect to stay in their first post-grad job for less than two years! (The University Network)

These statistics may increase your angst, so I encourage you to understand how your college student envisions their career path. This insight can help you, help them.

Here is the bottom line.

As a parent, you are the person your child is looking to for support, praise, guidance, and perspective. If you think this is a scary time for you, think of how nervous they might be. The job search process for college students will have its ups and downs. Perhaps you have gone through something very similar. It is a different job market, that is for sure. However, it can be navigated and success will come. You’ve got this!

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