If you’ve been following my regular newsletter, you have heard me mention my youngest son a bit. He just landed a great new job and it made me think about what a difference a year makes! This time last year, he was graduating without a job and I was panicked! It prompted me to re-read something I shared back then and I realized that while my son is in a different place, this is still relevant and helpful for this year’s grads, and Moms and Dads out there!
Originally when we were planning out our calendar for the Spring, we thought this would be a great time to recommend some gifts for the college grad who’s off to work. Something light, not the usual career talk you get from me on a weekly basis.
As I write this, I’m on a plane to Cleveland for some training, and the truth is I’ve got something else on my mind. For several weeks now I’ve invited, nudged, suggested, and nearly begged my youngest son to carve out some time for us to chat before he graduates.
I’m fortunate in so many regards. Both of my children actually choose – voluntarily! – to spend time with their dad and me. They are adults and it’s not lost on me that they could choose otherwise. And, they are both ambitious, motivated, smart and kind. But there’s something about young adulthood that builds a wall. Our children – mine, yours, and young people the world over – want to prove they’ve “got it.” They’re on it. They don’t want the advice we so desperately want to offer. Or is it just me?
That’s right folks…my youngest son whose mom owns a career coaching company, is graduating in several weeks and doesn’t have a job yet.
Yes, the career coach’s son may graduate without a job. Ironic, isn’t it? Do you think I’ve gently mentioned that people actually pay me to help them with this stuff? Yes. Yes, I have. No matter. He’s “on it.” And, knowing him, I’m trying to take him at his word. But it’s killing me.
And I can’t help but think of his classmates. My students at the University of Delaware who, like him, haven’t yet figured it out. Or want to take the summer off. Or want to travel. Or simply and quite understandably want to put a little more space between where they’ve been and the decisions and commitments of adulthood.
Let’s face it: It’s a scary time. And in many ways these kids, our kids, are far less prepared for what’s ahead, especially when it comes to a job search.
So, I’m writing this to you, Ethan, and to your classmates. Here’s what I wanted to share:
1. You are not alone. The students who have jobs and plans are talking about it, the ones who don’t aren’t. Don’t be fooled by the appearance that everyone else has it all figured out.
2. The prospects are excellent. Employers are hiring across a broad swath of industries. Your job is to make sure you are prepared to take advantage of the good hiring climate. Polish your interviewing skills, and network, network, network. (Read guest blogger and recent grad Lizzy Biener’s blog)
3. Know yourself first. You know what you want, Ethan, and that’s a real advantage. Knowing this will help your confidence and help insure you land well in a place that’s a good fit. But not everyone does. For your classmates, I suggest letting go of the desire for certainty. Pick something, try it on, and see if it fits. You don’t need to feel stuck or pressured to get it right. You can always make a change.
4. Target your search. Hitting the “apply” button on online job postings over and over again is not the way to find a job. Only 7-12% of online applications are ever seen by a human. Be strategic and reach out personally to people in positions to help you find what you want. (An Online Job Search Won’t Work, Do This Instead)
5. Be intentional. Go for what you want, or your best guess and give it a try. There’s no better time! If you’re worried about making the wrong choice, remember that you’ll make it right. There are no wrong choices as long as we take the lesson with us.
Finally, a word to my fellow Moms and Dads. We’ve done the best we could with the resources we have. They are going to be fine, really. There’s a lot to celebrate, and they’ve got this. And if you think they could use some extra help or support, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheers to THEIR career!