10 tips for helping your kid get a job
Coaching is key when helping offspring get a summer job or full-time job
Whether your son or daughter is looking for summer work or they are looking to enter the full time workplace they can probably use your help.
That doesn't necessarily mean they will welcome your offer of assistance. Being very mindful of choosing our role as parents in the job search arena is key and many factors come into play.
How receptive the student or recent graduate is key, as is whether this is their first foray into the job market — not to mention how skilled the parent feels in coaching their offspring in this rite of passage.
The word coaching may well be the key. If you are not skilled in job seeking as a parent use this opportunity as a mutual learning opportunity and above all do no harm by inflicting on your progeny perspectives which may be out of date and out of favour with today's job market.
The list below comes from my experience as a parent, career coach and as an HR professional who sometimes received the well-intentioned, but in my view over-reaching parents' efforts.
1. Start Early. November for university students; January for high school and college. For many parents the subtle encouragement can start in the form of gentle open-ended questions well in advance of when the student typically thinks it's time to get started on their quest. Nagging rarely works in my experience.
2. CVs & letters including thinking through reference choices. This is clearly one of the key teachable moments with tons of examples online and elsewhere. Keeping things to one page or two is a great start and being an editor as opposed to the author has beneficial long term impact.
3. Identifying employers and community contacts. This might be your biggest contribution. Typically a student's network is limited and this usually turns out to be very limiting in their search. They will typically focus on where their friends work and are generally pickier than is advisable. The objective is to cast a very wide net in places that don't immediately come to mind. Close to home is a good place to start for first time jobs. For parents it is time to open your network, consider sending an email or making a call to contacts to warm things up but very quickly turn over the work of making contact to the job seeker. The experience of doing so is critical to a student's confidence and ability to do for themselves.
4. Online. Start with the basics of major job search websites and social media such as Linkedin. This can be fun as students can usually show Mom and Dad a thing or two. Enables students to really navigate on their own with a bit of guidance.
5. Help them answer the question `What are you looking for?' Helping your son or daughter answer the obvious question with a balance of specifics based on their interests, experience and background and coming up with an effective `elevator pitch' is huge for their confidence and a critical life skill for future searches.
6. Interview preparation and conducting mock interviews. Use a real job they are interested in or a random job ad taken off a job website as a guide. If you are not the right person, help find someone who is as the confidence builder is big in a few role plays before the real thing. At the very least do a walk through of the interviews you have participated in as examples. Always encourage interviewees to bring a cheat sheet to the interview as you would bring notes to any meeting.
7. Don't call, email, contact the employer on your child's behalf unless they have lost their voice or are unconscious. Huge turn off for employers.
8. Teach the social graces of negotiating, accepting and refusing a job offer professionally. These pieces are often deemed less important by students, the parent's role is to provide perspective and underscore the importance of these steps.
9. Coach responses to workplace challenges in the early stages of the new job. Ideally you have been teaching work ethic for their lifetime however the learning grows exponentially when a real job is in play. Real life workplace situations present themselves as teachable moments. Asking open ended questions, offering your experience as a guide with some `you may want to consider this approach' comments without telling them what to do unless specifically asked is very effective. Coaching without meddling is the key.
10. Remind them to leave their employment gracefully. If the job does not work out or when it comes to an end of contract or summer term, leaving well is huge. Reminding son or daughter of the importance of a future reference can prevent them from `bailing' prematurely or unprofessionally as a the temptation of a cool camping trip comes up near the end of the summer but before their scheduled end date.