How to Bridge the Gap From College to Career

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The celebrations, the speeches, the excitement…that is the best part of enjoying college graduation. They come home, unload a ridiculous amount of stuff, and need a well-deserved break from the stress of school, exams, and dealing with the pandemic for the last few years. But then the feeling sets in…how long are you supposed to wait, or tiptoe around the subject, that your new grad needs to search for a job? You don’t want to start a battle but at some point, the topic needs to be addressed. So how do we as parents help to bridge the gap from college to career?

As a parent who has lived through this with my own college grad, here are my tips as an expert…and a mom.

1. Have the conversation… when they are ready, and usually after some time off. I also find that feeding them a favorite meal first can be helpful. Even taking a drive where you don’t have to look them in the eye, but they are “trapped” in the car with you can work as well. Before speaking, ask them what they are thinking about or have on their mind about the process.

2. Start with their Skills. Your first thought may be to tell them to just make some phone calls or start applying for jobs online. Instead, help them get clarity on what skills they can bring to an employer first. It’s very hard for young adults to have this self-awareness. They might say, “Well, I’m hard working and I’m responsible.” Instead, help them home in on what they know how to do? Are they analytical? Are they great writers? Creative? Problem solvers? Help them figure out what that is. And help them pick their top 3 skills.

3. Reach out…with a plan. Your first instinct may be to connect them with a friend or colleague who can lead them to a job. Referrals are great. However, your grad needs to be prepared when meeting anyone you may introduce them to. All too often parents make introductions and the kids blow it because they were too casual and thought mom or dad would take care of things. Referrals with preparation have the most success.

4. Encourage them to network. People like to hire people that they’ve met or have something in common with. Suggest they reach out to alumni who tend to be receptive to speaking with grads. LinkedIn is a great platform to access alumni. When speaking with an alumnus they should ask questions, seek common ground, be curious, and be willing to learn. 

5. Stress professionalism. A hiring executive told me, “It takes 5 minutes to make an impression and 2 seconds to get rid of it.” Re-enforce expected manners such as making good eye contact and showing appreciation for the meeting. They should be dressed professionally…even if the video call or workplace they are visiting is casual. Be sure they clean up their social media profile in case the employer decides to “google” them. And most importantly, they should send a thank-you note 24 hours after every meeting.

Parents often give great advice, it’s just hard for grads to hear it since it comes from Mom or Dad. The job search is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience and persistence will yield success. 

Next Great Step specializes in helping recent grads navigate their way through the job search process. If you know a grad that needs help to achieve their next great step, we are now accepting applications for our Fast-Start Group Coaching. Schedule a Complimentary Consultation here or call us at 973-577-6161.

This post was provided by Beth Hendler-Grunt, President of Next Great Step

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