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5 Strategies to Help Your College Grad Get a Job

Your grad can't find a job after college. What can you do? Mighty Mommy shares 5 strategies to help your young adult bring home a career-worthy paycheck.

By
Cheryl Butler
Episode #545
post grad

A shiny new college diploma doesn't always result in a shiny new job. We'd all love to see our graduates land positions in the career they studied so diligently for. But often, new grads can't find a job after college.

Don't panic! Just because your grad hasn't landed a job doesn't mean he'll be unemployed forever. I'll share five strategies to help your new grad bring home a career-worthy paycheck.

#1 - Collaborate on finding a job after college

My son graduated from a small New England college this past May. He's always excelled in academics, athletics, and personal endeavors. As a tween, he yearned to have a job and make his own money. His outgoing personality and ambition, both in the classroom and on the field, have always helped him achieve.

According to the University of Washington, it can take college graduates an average of three to six months to land their first position after graduation.

My son managed college, team-life, and a part-time job successfully over the past four years. He never imagined he'd walk off-campus with his Bachelors in Science and no job to support his four-year investment in his field. Ultimately, he felt really down about himself.

He's not alone. According to the University of Washington, it can take college graduates an average of three to six months to land their first position after graduation.

The first thing his father and I did was to take him aside and let him know how much we believed in him. Our goal was to support him unconditionally. We also let him know we were going to guide the next part of his post-grad journey with love, care, and high expectations.

Shortly after graduation, we set aside time to help our son get grounded with his post-college life. We literally made a list of all the potential career opportunities he could begin to check out. This was a super helpful exercise. Between the three of us, we thought of avenues he hadn't even considered.

Professional friends offered us an excellent book recommendation—Getting from College to Career by Lindsey Pollak. Dad, myself, and our son all read this book, which really geared us up for the next steps for landing a job.

We made sure our son knew that although it was his responsibility to pursue a job, we were still in this together. We would be along for the ride to offer guidance and moral support.

#2 - Help get your college graduate's financial house in order

We've been down this road before with another of our children. That means we had a preliminary plan to follow as we worked toward helping our son find his post-college job. One great piece of advice we received from friends and colleagues in the financial profession was to get a handle on his financial status.

A credit report can affect your grad's chances of renting an apartment, taking out future loans, and even getting a job.

Obtain a copy of your student's free credit report. 

A credit report can affect your grad's chances of renting an apartment, taking out future loans, and even getting a job. We learned our son had a minor but outstanding balance on a credit card he opened the first year he was in college! He had completely (or conveniently) forgotten all about it, so we were able to handle that before it became a bigger problem.

Check on the status of your graduate's student loans.

How much will need to be paid each month? When do those payments start? Most student loans have a six-month deferment after graduation, but you and your grad should plan for the day you'll start making monthly payments.

We helped our son organize his student loans and his repayment plan immediately after graduation. The overall loan picture wasn't pretty, but at least he has a grasp on the numbers. He was able to work with the lenders to come up with a reasonable payment plan until his income increases.

Encourage your grad to get a part-time job.

Graduation came and went, and my son had no sign of landing a role in his field. We decided working part-time should be part of his short-term plan. He took a job as a lifeguard for the summer and enrolled in a summer class at our local university. This class led to an internship that has him one step closer to getting a job in his career path. He was also made some professional connections that have helped him land important interviews.

Give them a soft place to land. For now.

My son is choosing to live at home until he finds a permanent job. He'll use this time to keep job searching, building on his resume, and networking professionally. Because of this arrangement, his expenses will be minimal and hopefully, so will his stress.

#3 - Take advantage of your own networks

Both myself and my son's father are big believers in helping others (including our children) with professional "hook-ups" and connections when at all possible. We're not handing him a job on a silver platter, but by introducing him to others in our personal and professional networks, we can be a conduit.

Get a resume from your college grad and pass it along to people in your network. Let them know they can also pass it along to others who might have an interest.

There are countless opportunities to network within your personal circle—church, school community, neighborhood friends, family members, and social media in-roads are also ways to help your child find career leads.

Don't forget to take advantage of the job search resources offered by your child's college.

There are other ways college grads can do their own networking. One idea my son has found extremely helpful was to conduct an informational interview with someone in his field. This offered him an excellent opportunity to ask questions about his desired profession. It's also a way to establish more contacts. Best of all, many of these interviews can be done by email or phone.

And don't forget to take advantage of the job search resources offered by your child's college. Encourage your grad to form a relationship with the administrator or career counselor at their school. By being persistent and making herself memorable, your grad is more likely to get notified of open career opportunities. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

Connect with Your Company of Choice on Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are not just for posting vacation photos; they're becoming instrumental in the business world. Employers now have specific accounts for job opportunities and many companies across all professions post when they're hiring on their social media pages.

Use LinkedIn as an instant connector. LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. It's like Facebook for your career. It can offer hundreds of opportunities for people to find a job, expand their career opportunities, and connect with other professionals. 

Lifewire offers a terrific overview of how LinkedIn can help the newbie college grad get started in the workforce and maintain professional connections for years to come.

Finally, other recent college grads who have already been through the same process of job hunting can be a fantastic resource. They may be able to offer advice to inspire your unemployed child and encourage her to keep her striving toward her dream job.

#4 - Cultivate good interviewing skills

No matter how strong you might look on your resume, the actual job interview is crucial. Your grad should understand that it's essential to prepare for an interview. Excellent interview skills will help him make a strong first impression and stand out from the crowd. 

This means practicing interview skills, researching the company, being able to articulate why they're qualified, and learning to follow up after the interview.

My son has excellent interpersonal skills. However, he found he wasn't as prepared as he should've been for his first couple of post-grad interviews. He was quick to realize that he needed to improve his skills. He enlisted the help of a life coach (via one of my personal networking connections), and she was happy to spend time with him brushing up his interviewing skills.

The takeaways were:

  • Research the company you're interviewing with so you don't go in blind.

  • Analyze the skillset you'll need for the job. This enables you to speak directly to the employer's needs.

  • Present vital assets you bring to the table. These include education, personality traits (outgoing, good under pressure, organized), team experience, and internships.

  • Have great eye contact. Look at the person interviewing you, not down at your shoes or across the room.

  • Be engaging and enthusiastic. Show your potential employer that you're eager to have this opportunity.

  • Pay attention to your body language. Shake hands firmly, sit up straight, project confidence and enthusiasm.

  • Be ready to ask questions. Good questions reflect your genuine interest.

  • Demonstrate your people skills. Social skills show that you'll mesh well with co-workers and will be a team player.

  • Summarize why the job is a fit. Towards the end of the interview, summarize why you think this job would be an excellent fit that will benefit the employer.

  • Don't forget to say thank-you. Be sure you get your interviewer's contact info and send a follow-up email or letter as soon as possible after the meeting. This is also a great opportunity to mention anything that really resonated with you during the interview.

  • Follow up. Ask the interviewer when you can expect to hear more about the role. If you don't hear back by that time, it's fine to follow up with an email or phone call.

#5 - Be kind to yourself

It's normal for both you and your grad to be anxious about her getting that first real job after college. If it isn't going as quickly as either of you would like, remember that this is only temporary. Eventually, that job is going to happen.

During this time, your recent grad has a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time alone.

During this time, your recent grad has a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time alone. After hectic (not to mention crowded) college life, that's a gift if he can use to take care of himself. This can be a time for self-development and cultivating any personal hobbies and interests he may not have had time for while so busy in college.

There are dozens of innovative life planning apps, websites, and journals available to get your young adult thinking about goal setting and much more.

This interim period between graduating college and the next chapter of beginning his or her career is the perfect time to get grounded and excited about the future. The skies the limit!

GET MORE MIGHTY MOMMY

How do you support your recent college grad? Share your thoughts on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page or Twitter. You can also email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT for more tips and hints. Listen and subscribe on AppleSpotifyGoogleStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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