Tips to Help Your Kid Find That First Post-College Job

Hannah P. Morgan
August 21, 2013

It may seem the odds of landing a first job are stacked against new graduates. With a limited network, little to no experience and unfamiliarity with how to traverse the tricky terrain of job searching, these 20-somethings are struggling to launch into the workplace. Maybe there is more parents can do to assist their children in the quest to land their first job:

I just want a chance. Everyone just wants to prove themselves by getting a foot in the door. Graduates have so much energy and enthusiasm, so why aren't companies jumping at the opportunity to hire them? The answer is complex, but more importantly, let's acknowledge that job searching today is different from what it used to be. There are multiple solutions for working around this roadblock.

Do the two-step. Advise your child to connect whenever he or she finds a job he or she is qualified for and interested in. Both you and your child should search social media for people you may know who work at the hiring company. Even past employees can make a helpful introduction or provide valuable insight. When you find someone inside the company, immediately reach out and let them know your son or daughter is interested in a job, and ask if they would be willing to forward your child's résumé to the hiring decision maker (not human resources) or put in a good word. Many companies have employee referral programs where employees are financially incentivized to refer people. A referral doesn't have to mean this current employee is endorsing or recommending your kid's work, it merely means they know the referred candidate. Please be sure to copy your child in all communication and urge your son or daughter to follow up directly.

Track down company insiders. It is quite possible neither of you know anyone inside the company, which can put your child at a disadvantage. But don't give up hope. Encourage your child to search for company and employee profiles on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. Monitor updates and look for opportunities to like or share what is posted, or add to the company's discussion. The purpose in "stalking" the company and its employees is for your child to genuinely show his or her knowledge of what the company is doing and his or her interest in that industry. This is the new way of networking and fostering new professional relationships.

Alumni. Fellow graduates from high school and college are often willing to help out. Ask your son or daughter if he or she has already joined the school's alumni network groups on LinkedIn, or contacted the alumni office for information. Once he or she is connected, encourage your child to search the alumni group for names of people who work for companies or who hold positions related to those he or she is interested in. And don't stop there. Often alumni groups host regional events. Remind your child that meeting people face-to-face is an important part of building relationships, so encourage him or her to attend.

Professors can help. Encourage your son or daughter to reconnect with professors who are likely to offer guidance and assistance, and know that it is never too late to do so. Many want to help students, past and present, pursue their academic interests. Not to mention, professors often have contacts in the working world.

Review work. Another way to help is to make sure your child is applying for the right level job. Does he or she meet the stated requirements for the job for which he or she is applying? The best way to determine this is to thoroughly review and assess the job description. Does your son or daughter's résumé provide proof of experience or knowledge for each of the job's requirements? If you aren't seeing enough proof, remind your child of the class projects, internships and volunteer work he or she has participated in that might be applicable. If he or she is unable to come up with examples to match at least 60 percent of the requirements, it is probably not a job for which he or she should apply. Pay attention to the years of experience as well. Have your kid focus on jobs requesting one to three years of experience, or ones that specifically state they are entry-level jobs.

Interest and enthusiasm. One of the best ways to overcome the discouraging odds is to show interest in the company or role. Ask your child why he or she is interested in that role and how it aligns with future goals. Have him or her think about what he or she might do to demonstrate this. It could be his or her relentless pursuit of the job opportunity, or how he or she creatively captures the attention of the company through a multimedia presentation or a cover letter that knocks the company's socks off.

Don't get discouraged. Searching for the first job out of college requires investing a full-time effort. This means the majority of your child's week should be spent meeting people online and in-person and applying for jobs. You may want to encourage your son or daughter pick up a part-time job or volunteer. He or she will need to explain what he or she was doing after graduation, and looking for a job probably isn't enough.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain.

Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

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