A little help never hurt anyone
A Jewish parent’s role in the job search process
By Judie Jacobson
No one has to tell a Jewish parent that his or her role doesn’t end when the last tuition check is written. Especially in today’s tougher than ever economic time, there are several things you can do to offer support as your recent graduate transitions from college life to the real world – as well as to give your grad a leg up in the job search process. We spoke with several career and college counselors about a parent’s role in their son or daughter’s job search process. Here’s what they had to say:
Ask, don’t tell.
It’s not so much a matter of what advice or aid you want to give; it’s more a matter of what your grad needs, and how your own skills match those needs. So, for example, your editing skills may come in handy in critiquing a resume or cover letter; your managerial skills could be useful in putting your job searcher through the paces of an interview; your research skills may help dig up some additional job leads. But don’t usurp the process. The trick is to gently offer help, to let your grad know where you think you can help, and then sit back and wait to be asked.
Make a “shidduch” or two.
It’s not exactly matchmaking, but networking – the making of connections – has become the hands-down most effective way to uncover open positions, especially those hidden just below the surface, in today’s job market. Trouble is, not a lot of kids just out of college have had the opportunity to the sort of connections that kind of job search requires. But you have. Sit down with your grad and make a list of those friends, family and colleagues you feel comfortable contacting with regard to your son or daughter’s job search. You never know who may have a solid lead to the perfect job.
Be open to alternatives.
Grads who are frustrated with an anemic job market often decide to go in different directions. Perhaps your daughter who originally intended to put off grad school thinks now may be the perfect time to continue her studies after all; or your son who was headed for a career in business decides what he really wants to do is become a journalist. Or maybe take a year off and travel, or do community service type work in another part of the country – or the world. It’s your job to listen with an open mind – and ask lots and lots of questions to make sure that your son or daughter has considered all the options and possible consequences of his or her idea.
Offer silent support.
Sometimes a sympathetic ear is all your grad is looking for. If your job searcher calls to carp about the dearth of jobs in his or her field, listen. You don’t always have to step in with anything more than a few words of encouragement and relay your own experience in a down job market. Remind your grad of how proud you are of his or her remarkable recent achievement: graduation from college. Don’t let the job search doldrums dampen the sense of accomplishment your son or daughter should rightfully be savoring at this point in his or her young life.