Every few days there is a tweet linking to a Wall Street Journal article talking about the dismal job prospects for recent college grads. If you have one of these living in your home, here are some suggestions to help them get a job and out of your house.
Some friends agreed to host the newly graduated son of close friends who live in another state. My friends, both professionals who have changed jobs numerous times over the years (including as recently as this month) were shocked at what "kids today" don't know about looking for work.
Resume: If you haven't been in a hiring position or changed jobs in the past couple of years yourself, you may not be the best person to help your grad with their resume. Hire a professional. Sure, it will cost about $500 for quality help but how much did you invest in that college degree? How much is your sanity worth?
Business Cards: Whether you do a classy calling card from the Paper Passionista or a simple version from VistaPrint - buy a couple hundred business cards for your job seeker. Name, email address and cellphone number for contact is all it needs but be sure it's clean, legible and not to "artsy" (unless they are applying in artsy fields). While you at it, get a nice (but not too pricey) holder for the cards too. What good is a nice card if it's dog-eared from a pocket, wallet or bottom of a handbag?
Email address: Yes, I know they already have one but what is the address? GetLucky69 may have been "memorable" when in college but a more professional email address is in order for job hunting. Some version of their name at gmail or your internet provider is best. Help them create a signature and save it on their email account both on the computer AND their cellphone.
Voice Mail: Same principal as the email. Call and listen to their voice mail on their cellphone. "Dude, I'll get back to you" is not appropriate when applying for jobs. Write out a simple message including their name, thanking them for calling and asking for a number and best time to return the call. Coach them and then call and listen to how professional it sounds once it's done.
Wardrobe: Yes, I know many workplaces are "business casual" but trust me, young people have NO IDEA what that means. Where their peers may all dress like they do, the hiring managers are more likely baby boomers. I'm not saying they need a coat and tie (though they may) but certainly some dress slacks or pencil skirt (knee length, not mini) and office appropriate shirts are essential. Don't overlook footwear, belts and bags. Something basic and NOT SCUFFED will serve them well.
Grooming: Haircuts, neatly trimmed facial hair, colors that look natural, minimal makeup, neutral nails for women, clean trimmed nails for men, no visible tattoos. These little things make a difference. One of my stepsons didn't get a food service job until he shaved his beard. He had applied before but the hiring manager didn't want to ask him to shave it so he just didn't offer him the job. As soon as he showed up to check on openings with a clean-shaven face, he was hired. If your grad says "I'll get a haircut or shave if I need to" trust me - they need to right now! If a manager has to ask you to shave, buy appropriate clothes or anything else - they'll pass. Easier to hire someone who already meets those criteria.
Online versus In Person: Yes, I know most larger companies make all applicants fill out an on line form. That doesn't mean that will get them hired or even get them considered! Do on line research about the company! Fill out the online form then go in person and chat with at least the receptionist. Find out who is in charge, talk about what you learned in your research, make a positive impression. Putting a face with a name is always helpful!
When does the interview start? The second you meet anyone who works for that company. There is no such thing as "just stopping in to drop off a resume or application". That's the first interview! No one tells applicants that and they show up sweaty from the gym and the person who took their paperwork noted that. Professional, friendly and prepared will get you remembered for the right reasons!
Networking: Most jobs are the result of someone you know. Are you a Rotary or Chamber member? Any other professional organization? Know anyone who is? Take your cleaned up and ready to work young person to the next weekly or monthly meeting. DON'T SIT WITH THEM. Split up and network independently. Coach before. Have a goal - meet one person who might have a lead in the company or industry of interest. Teach them to follow up with an appropriate email after the meeting.
Volunteer: Have a Political Science grad? It's an election year and there are plenty of opportunities for a young person to volunteer a few hours a week to help with events. It's a great way to meet people active in that area whether it's a particular candidate, a political party, a non-partisan think tank or action committee. Regardless of the field of interest, volunteering is a good way to make contacts, build skills and get more to enhance your resume.
Get a job - any job: There are always part-time positions or temp jobs available. Sure, they aren't glamorous and they don't require that fancy college degree but they can help a young person get a job in their chosen field. How? By providing experience. Not field experience, but general work experience. Yes, I can get up on time, get ready and consistently show up and work hard type experience. It also demonstrates a willingness to work. Employers like that. They shy away from those who've not had real work experience - again, the "fear factor" - are you going to make me look bad if I choose you? Working for a temp agency is a great way to both get experience and exposure to many large companies who use these temporary positions as trial ground for new staffers.
Lastly, set expectations. Summer is over - time to get serious! Establish a "rental rate" for the room the grad occupies in your home. No less than $250/month. But wait! They don't have a job! How can they pay rent? They can work it off! Keep a calendar "time sheet" on the refrigerator. Calculate $10/hour for easy math and give them chores to pay for their rent. Same for a meal allowance - after all, you are probably buying groceries, paying their cellphone bill, internet, health insurance, you get it. Cleaning up after meals, taking out the trash, walking the dog, yard work - whatever needs to be done can pay the rent and groceries.
House rules: Do not do their laundry. Do not change their sheets or the towels in their bathroom. Do not check to be sure they have toilet paper. Close the door to their room and let it be. No messes in common areas - clean up after yourself in the kitchen and family room. Pretend they are a stranger renting a room rather than a family member.
It will help keep them busy, prepare them for the "real world" and minimize your frustration at the process. When I suggested this to a woman I know she said, "Well they'll just move out." To which I said "And your point is?"
All of this is basic, but not to youth who have spent the past several years going to class in pajamas! What many people don't realize is that as much as a hiring manager is trying to fill a position, they are also trying to NOT MAKE A MISTAKE. The more you can look "good to go" the more likely you are to get the opportunity.
And in closing - no one is going to come to their room at your house and offer them a job! They have to be out in the community every single day doing something to improve their skills, extending their professional network and raising their profile in order to beat the odds and get hired.