It’s not just graduates…

By Freda Marver 11 years agoNo Comments

It’s not just graduates…

Watch this WCCO interview for an overview of this topic,
or scroll past for the full post …

It’s graduation time, but it’s not just graduates feeling job search angst.

It’s also:

  • Other job seekers who worry about the new flood of graduates looking for work
  • Parents who worry whether their graduates will find work and whether they’re searching effectively
  • Those who fall into both categories.

Yes, in this economy, there will be households where both the college graduate and a parent are seeking new career opportunities. Will they be competing for the same jobs? In most cases, no; however, all the uncertainty will likely have an impact on family dynamics.

In this post, I discuss:

  • Unemployment rates between job seekers who are new graduates vs. adults with more work and life experience
  • What to make of these numbers
  • What job search techniques work for both these groups?
  • How can parents of a new graduate help their adult child find work?


Unemployment rates between graduates and other job seekers

A new report by the Economic Policy Institute says that unemployment rates of workers under age 25 are traditionally about twice the national average (16% vs 8% in March 2013.)  College graduates fare better than high school grads (9% vs 30%).

The report says this trend persists because younger workers may be passed over for jobs since they have less experience, their lack of seniority makes them more likely to be laid off, and they tend to move between jobs (and careers and cities) more often than older workers.

How to view these numbers

The numbers are what they are, but you get to choose how you want to look at them.

While the unemployment rates are high, they have continued to come down since 2009. And keep in mind: If 8% of adults are unemployed, that means 92% of those looking for work have found employment. If 18% of college grads are unemployed, then 82% of those seeking jobs found them.


What can you do to put yourself in the employed camp?

Here are job search techniques that work for both groups:

Structure your day. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of sleeping in, getting a slow start to the day, checking email or Facebook, and suddenly it’s dinner time. To avoid this pattern, here’s a suggestion: before you go to bed, have something specific you’re going to do the next morning. Wondering about what to be doing with your day? Read on . . .

Collect experiences. Even before you land a job, you can be collecting experiences that will both look good on a resume and help you feel good about yourself. Think about what you enjoy and the type of work you’re seeking. Then consider volunteering, taking a class, reading a book related to the work you’d like to be doing, or walking around your neighborhood to see if a local store or service is hiring. Find professional organizations that interest you and attend their meetings. Check groups on Whatever you do, don’t spend all your time online applying for jobs. Get out there and start doing things and meeting people that share your interests.

Network. It’s okay to groan, but keep on reading because networking can be a lot less painful than you might think! Networking doesn’t mean walking into a room with 200 people, going up to strangers and trying to get them to hire you while their eyes glaze over. Instead, think of networking as meeting one-to-one with people who know you, care about you, and want to help you out. I tell young adults to start with friends of their parents. Then look at parents of their friends. Explain what your interests are, and ask them what do they suggest you do to get more experience so you can get hired, and who do they know who would be good for you to talk to. Then contact those people and repeat the process. And always send a thank you note! This gets easier the more you do it, and you never know when a contact is going to pay off, either short-term or years down the road.

Have a solid online presence. For grads, I’ll be even more direct: clean up your online presence! If there is content on there you don’t want your parents to see, you don’t want an employer to see it either. A prospective employer is going to Google you. Create / maintain a solid LinkedIn profile, and as you network, invite your new contacts to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Remember: “No” is part of the process. It’s never easy to hear “no,” but how can you get more comfortable with it so you’re not afraid to keep doing what you need to do to get that job? I heard of a salesperson who said it took an average of 40 no’s to get a yes. So she decided to treat herself every time she collected 40 no’s. When someone turned her down, she just smiled, tallied up the no, and knew she was one step closer to buying herself a latte. Celebrate the no’s. If you’re hearing “no,” that’s great because it means you’re putting yourself out there. Don’t give up!


How can parents of new grads be helpful?

The trick is: how do you help without nagging?! As parents, we have to balance:

  • Does our adult child really want / need our advice?
  • Do we really know the best ways to be helpful? The job search process has certainly changed over the years.

I have three thoughts:

Acknowledge how hard the process is. It’s hard for any of us to so boldly “put ourselves out there.” Let your child know: it’s natural to be afraid or insecure or want to avoid the process altogether. That doesn’t mean you don’t keep trying; you build new muscles as you keep working through those feelings of fear and discomfort.

Reinforce the effort. Of course there will be cause to celebrate once a job is landed. But it will be much more effective to celebrate the steps that your grad can control. Did he make a list of people to call, books to read, places to volunteer? Reward that first step. Did she start moving through this list? Reinforce these concrete steps.

You are responsible for your happiness, and your adult children are responsible for theirs. You can’t control their behaviors or their happiness. And it is important that you work on what you need to make you happy and fulfilled. It’s good for your children to see you taking care of yourself, too – it models good behavior for them.


Want more tips on career exploration?

Please sign up for my free monthly email newsletter (see the right column of this page – near the top.) Or consider career coaching for yourself, or as a gift for a college graduate you know.

And to all graduates and their families: Congratulations!

Best –


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