Parents: ‘Helping’ Your Millennial in the Job Search!

Parents wanting to help: Let them interview on their own!

Parents to help: Let them interview on their own!

Nearly every parent has a desire to help their child succeed in their lives, and to that end succeed in some sort of career. Career success for recent graduates is seemingly becoming more difficult these days, and parents naturally want to compensate by giving more help to their children in order to create a better life than they were able to by using some of the resources they worked for during the economic boom of their time.  A common problem cited by the media with hiring the Millennials, the new generation of recent college graduates, is that they don’t know how to work. Parenting style is often cited as a lynch-pin in the supposed pervasive and poor work ethic in Millennials, because they went too far helping their kids along and the kids in turn didn’t know how to do much for themselves!  I will be sharing a list of things that I, as a millennial trying to find my first career, find incredibly helpful, and I will point out what I feel might be taking it over the line.

Finding Job Opportunities

Telling me about job opportunities that you think I may be interested in is one of the more helpful things you can do for me.  I can’t decide whether I think the job will be a good fit for me or not if I haven’t heard that it exists!  Often I will be searching for work using different avenues than you would, and the opportunities we find out about may not overlap.  Insisting that I apply for a job may be taking this a bit too far. If I don’t think the job will be a good fit for me it is usually more effective to spend time searching for one that does, rather than have an interview where I’m not sure what to say when in the back of my mind is something like ‘I’m here because mom/dad coerced me into applying.’  An extreme version of this, and one of the more detrimental things you can do is submit my resume to people without bringing me in on the process.  I won’t learn anything, I may not be interested, and it can create a bad image for me if I even get an interview and show up completely unprepared.

Follow-up Reminders

In the same vein, sometimes parents DO know more about why a job might be a good fit, and sometimes I just forget to apply for a job they turned me onto because I am spinning a lot of plates at the same time.  A follow-up reminder such as asking whether I ended up applying to a position or contacted someone can be really helpful and well received.  If I haven’t done it and you think I don’t understand how good the opportunity would be, have a conversation about it explicitly outlining the benefits. It may be surprising how easily I change my mind about what job to apply for, because sometimes I don’t really know what I’m looking for in the first place!  Reminders, however, can be taken to an inappropriate level as well.  If I get blasted with a reminder every day, and no two-sided conversation as to why, it can begin to turn me off to your ideas in general.  I will become irritated hearing the same talk every morning when I have taken no action on purpose, and it makes me think that your ideas won’t work for me because you don’t understand what it is I am searching for.

Network Sharing

Building a network of potential work partners or project collaborators or just people to bounce ideas off of is becoming more and more important as time passes.  As the gap in numbers between jobs and candidates widens, genuine connections between people through conversations and connections become paramount.  Something that I find incredibly helpful is getting into my parents network.  Talk me up to your friends and colleagues!  If anybody is interested, let me know or introduce us and let us carry the conversation from there.  Some of the best leads I have received have come from someone in my parents network with similar interests simply pointing me in the right direction.  A couple of common habits can hamper the usefulness of sharing networks: Making promises for me about speaking with people, and being present for every conversation. Sometimes I don’t have the time right away, or I need to prepare to have a useful conversation with someone.  It isn’t helpful to promise my time without my permission in an attempt to jumpstart my networking – artificial enthusiasm just doesn’t carry over.  If you are involved in our conversations past the introductions, I may have trouble really opening up.  I’m not sure why this is but it tends to happen, and it helps me make stronger connections to meet with people on my own.

Supporting Reasonable Activities

This is a controversial one, and something that not everyone will have access to. One thing that helps me a lot when searching for work is trying things out.  Maybe I think I want to be a farmer, or a bike mechanic, or any other title, but I don’t know exactly what that entails so I’m not sure.  Support to try that out, whether it is going halfsies on some old bicycle parts to build a working machine, lending a car or a train pass for awhile to be able to get around to talk to people, or any small gesture of the sort, is uplifting and helpful.  It lets me get off the ground a little bit and feel like I am accomplishing something, and if I document what I am doing it could become something that goes on my resume as well! I think this is where often parents cross the line.  It is reasonable to want to support everything your kid does, of course, but it is incredibly detrimental to completely finance all activities.  I really value when my parents help me out financially, because most things they were willing to put some, but not all money into it.  This put some skin in the game for me, and allowed me to try new things that may have been inaccessible to me alone at the same time.  Support, but not too much, taught me about the value of money that I had to work for to put up my percentage rather than getting it all risk-free.

Communication is Key

Supporting my activities is helpful when they might further my goals in life or build skills of some sort, but tell me when you think something is a bad idea, and why!  Communication, and by that I mean having two-way conversations and not lecture time, is the best thing you can do to help me out.  Conversations about what I want and how certain things help me or don’t really give me a leg up over those that just move forward with their head down and never think about what they are accomplishing.  These have been just a few ways to help kickstart the career search for someone you care about (doesn’t have to be a young person either, I think these are good for everyone), and how to support Millennials like me in the job search and help us get out from under the weight of negative media.

Eli Lisseck, Oberlin Graduate 2013 and C2C Intern

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