PlanHero is delighted to feature this week’s guest author, Chloe Magnuson (see bio below), as she shares her insights on how parents can best support their recent graduates as they prepare for professional life (and free up your spare room).
Finally, the day has arrived: after years of hard work and sacrifice your son or daughter is graduated from college. Hooray! It is an amazing milestone for a parent to witness and I know from personal experience parents view this achievement as not only a major source of pride but as a chance to exhale and relax because it’s done. The hard part is over. For the lucky few, this may be true. Some recent graduates have the good fortune of immediately stepping into their new jobs with little or no transition time. But for the rest of us, the hardest part is about to begin: obtaining that first “real” job and becoming a self-sufficient adult.
If you’re among the many parents with a recent grad moving back home after college, get ready; living with your adult children is an entirely different ballgame. The real challenge – the job search – is next.
The average college graduate takes six months to find employment. The average. If you’re like my parents, you likely believe your kid falls into the above-average category, but I promise you this can still be a time of transition that may make you question your assumptions before everything is said and done. If you’re asking yourself what you can do as a parent to expedite and assist in this process there are some important things to consider.
As young adults, we are creatures of habit, and our routine has been consistent all of our lives. End of school = summer vacation. While graduating college certainly feels as if it warrants a break or even a well-deserved trip (I’m thinking Europe, Mom and Dad), slipping into summer-vacay mode will only set us up to lose months of productivity. I’m convinced the six-month statistic is really only three because we don’t start cracking down on the job hunt until August rolls around and we realize we’re not leaving home. Which leads to my first tip:
- Focus on support, not comfort. The job hunt is brutal and unforgiving. There will be a lot of frustration and rejection, and we could use your support through it. However, there is a fine line between providing a supportive, motivating environment, and one that is too comfortable. If you make us feel too at home, we will not leave. The thoughts “oh living at home isn’t too bad, I can definitely do this for a year while I figure things out” will enter their head, and trust me, there won’t be much “figuring things out” going on. If you allow us to get too comfortable we will never leave. We’ll start losing that sense of immediacy to get a job because we have it so good at home. The main thing to do here is to set boundaries. Whether that be in the form of rent, or well-defined terms of condition (i.e. making our own meals, doing our own laundry, cleaning, etc.), if you want us out, don’t coddle us. One of the best motivators during a job search is for us to try and change our current situation because it isn’t ideal. You can still offer us your love and support, but make sure the motivation to get the heck out is still there.
- Encourage consistency. There are so many things during the job search that are out of our control: the hyper-competitive job market, the volume of applicants, the job interviewers’ preferences, the list goes on and on. Encourage us to focus on what we CAN control: our interview skills, a stellar resume, well-written cover letters, an updated LinkedIn, networking, and the number of jobs we are applying to on a consistent basis. If you see us struggling with one of these offer some help! Another set of eyes on our resume or cover letter can help us catch some glaring issues we may have missed. The main takeaway here is that consistency is key. If we are applying to 7+ jobs a day, something is bound to hit. Set the goal together and see it through. Whether that number is five or ten, make it achievable and hit it every day.
- Frame your conversations productively. Focus on how you frame the dialogue surrounding the job search. We have likely faced a lot of rejection and our egos are bruised, so getting the constant “do you have a job yet?” is not only unproductive but very frustrating to hear and can create a lot of tension and insecurity. Know that if there is news to share, we’ll be the first ones to tell you. We want to share good news, such as an interview request, so give us space and trust us to approach you. Make sure to not overstep boundaries and intercept our private space. This is an area where you need to step back and allow us to do it on our own. After all, that’s what adults do.When talking to us about our job search, focus on questions and actions that are productive and offer value. Offer to proofread our resumes or even emails to employers. A nice gesture could be getting us some stationary to send out thank you notes. Let us know you’re available for interview prep, job researching, and networking. If you want to start a conversation about jobs with us try asking: “What jobs interested you most today?” Or even a simple “Find anything cool out there?” One thing is clear though: nagging questions are not productive and are only stress-inducing, which can lead to a breakdown in communication.
- Motivate! Odds are, you’re our biggest support system. The best thing you can do during this time is to let us know you’re there and to encourage us to be brave. Remind us to know our worth and we’re never settling if we’re moving forward. Remind us that there is always a silver lining. Rejection can sting but there is so much value in it, something that can be difficult to remember. Remind us that rejection allows for self-reflection and offers insight into what we need to improve to get it right next time, and also, what we should be proud of.
On a personal note, I was turned down for two dream jobs after making it through to the final rounds of interviews. These were positions with hundreds of applicants that I felt severely underqualified for. But I still made it through fourth-round interviews and to the final three candidates with both companies. Even though I didn’t get the job, I’m still proud of myself because I know I’m worth being in the running, and my parents were the first people to remind me of that. They turned the rejection into motivation, and I know the next one is mine.
Chloe Magnuson is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. She graduated with honors and was chosen to represent Seton Hall in their upcoming 2019/2020 Great Minds campaign. Chloe has interned with U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand, the Jim Johnson Gubernatorial Campaign, Tucker Green Consulting, and the High Lantern Group as a strategic communications intern. She was born in Oregon but grew up as a “Third Culture Kid,” by virtue of living and studying abroad in India and Abu Dhabi.