It’s official: your college senior’s job search is on. For your child, this means hours spent putting together a resume, attending job fairs, and writing dozens of cover letters. But what’s your role at this busy time?
About half of students who graduated in 2015 were jobless or underemployed 6 months after finishing school. It’s natural to be concerned about the outcome of your child’s job search. Keep in mind, though, that your child’s first job marks the start of her life as a financially independent adult. Encourage her to take the reins on this one.
Still, you can help in several ways besides just worrying:
- Try bringing up his job search at low-stress times. Pick moments free from anxiety over exams, extracurricular competitions, or other deadlines.
- Brainstorm jobs, industries, and companies with him. Keep the conversation open-ended and focus on your child’s skills, any experience (academic or professional) they bring to the table, and their passions or interests. Your child’s minor may be more marketable than his major. Can he combine his art history major with his computer science minor, perhaps as a web developer for an art gallery?
- Offer to pay for a session with a private career coach. Yes, her school may offer career services, but if she has already taken advantage of these resources and is still lost, a little third party assistance may be in order.
- Ask her to consider the salary, benefits, and growth potential of the career she wants to pursue. While following her passion should be a high priority, if she can’t support herself as a DJ/paragliding instructor/costume designer, you may end up paying her rent. Find useful salary information for related jobs on glassdoor.com and salary.com.
- Offer to look over her resume. Even if you’re unfamiliar with her industry or role, you can help with general pointers. Check for typos and formatting consistency.
- Tap into your own network. Set up introductions with colleagues, friends, and extended family. These people can suggest companies to look into, give interview advice, and maybe even recommend him for a job opening at their company. After making the initial connection, leave it to your child to follow up—remember that this is their job search, not yours.
- Run through practice interviews with her. While all of her friends are neck deep in their own job applications and finals, she could probably use an interview practice partner. Come up with a list of questions to run through—then add in a few of your own!
- Consider offering financial support. If your child plans to work for a nonprofit or arts organization with a low entry-level salary, you may decide to give a finite sum to help jumpstart her career. This could take the form of the security deposit for an apartment, a monthly grocery allowance, or a used car that allows her to commute from a more budget-friendly part of town.
- Be his biggest cheerleader. The job application process is difficult and no matter how much preparation and hard work your child puts in, dozens of other factors could prevent him from landing a particular job by a particular deadline. Showing that you believe in him is the best support you can give.