If your child has recently graduated from college and is now looking for – or has hopefully found – her first "real" job, you may want to impart great wisdom to her. It's a difficult time for an inexperienced worker to enter the workforce, but these tips can help make the entry easier and better align her expectations with reality.
Ford R. Myers, author of "Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring," offers the following advice to new grads:
1. The most qualified job candidate does not necessarily get the job offer. Having been in the workforce for a while, you know that hiring isn't always fair and based on merit. What better time to learn that lesson than as a new grad? Tell your kids it takes more than just a well-qualified résumé to get hired. According to Myers, "the candidate who will get the job is the one who self-markets and demonstrates to the employer that she is the best fit for the company's needs, problems and challenges."
2. Research your way to success. Getting a job is sometimes a little like all those exams your grad is happy to leave behind. Hiring managers want to know that a candidate has done her research on the company and industry. Reading press releases, the company website, industry websites and blogs and even social media profiles can help your job seeker find out what this company is all about, and its recent success.
3. Networking is more important than you think. It's all too easy to discount the importance of networking, especially for 20-somethings. But as we more seasoned employees know, networking often opens doors to jobs that aren't even advertised. A simple, casual conversation can end with your grad sending her résumé to a key decision-maker at a company, making it easier for her to score her first job.
Myers suggests: "Adopt the discipline of blocking out time on your calendar for networking activities – now and for the duration of your career."
4. An employer's offer is never the best offer. Most grads will simply be happy to get any job offer, especially knowing how bad the economy is. But encourage your child to push for more. Do the research to find out what this position typically pays in your area, with her level of experience. Companies usually make an offer with some wiggle room, since they're willing to negotiate for the right candidate. They never revoke the job offer simply if the candidate asks for a little more, even if its first offer is the best one. Plus, most employers expect you to negotiate, Myers says.
5. Graduating from school is the beginning of your education, not the end. Try to impart on your grad that while the grades are over, the learning process is just beginning. To stay hireable and qualify for promotions and raises, an employee has to stay current on her knowledge of tools and the industry. The good news is: College graduates' brains are still malleable, and it's easy for them to learn new skills quickly, making them more appealing to employers.
Encourage your grad to read books, blogs and magazines about her industry, attend conferences and workshops, and find a mentor who can help keep her fresh on the topics she needs to know about.
6. It takes time. She'll be chomping at the bit to start working in the field she's spent so much time studying and reading about, but tell her to be patient. The job market is still rocky, and many employers prefer to hire more experienced workers. In the meantime, your grad can volunteer to get more experience, take on an internship or start building her online brand through blogging and social media use. "Competition for top jobs is fiercer than ever as new college graduates compete with seasoned professionals for the best positions. It is important for these 'up-and-comers' to have 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing the truths about obtaining employment," Myers says.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.