So much has changed since the time of telephone screenings, in-person interviews, and hand-written thank you notes. Today’s job seekers face a far different road to employment, primarily due to the influence of technology. Online job boards have replaced classified ads; interviews occur through digital screening and platforms like Zoom; communication primarily happens via email or text; networking is made more powerful by online tools like LinkedIn. College career centers host far fewer company recruiters on campus, career fairs have gone virtual, and business attire has gone from formal to business casual. Facial hair for men is more widely acceptable, and women need to be far less concerned about looking “buttoned up.”
With all of these behavioral shifts, many parents still insist on giving their college students and grads advice that worked the last time they looked for a job – which in many cases is 15+ years ago. And to be perfectly blunt, not only can their advice be out of date, but it can be detrimental. While parents have nothing but the best of intentions, some of their advice and direction is simply misguided or wrong. They try to provide direction but they don’t know what they don’t know.
Parents view a lack of action as laziness or lack of motivation, but some college students and recent grads just don’t know how to find a job. What kind of job are they looking for? Are they qualified? Where do they look for these jobs? How do you write a resume and what should you include? How do you write a cover letter? How many jobs do you need to apply to?
Not knowing the answers to these questions, and more, can make the internship or job search intimidating or even paralyzing.
Again, no one can argue with the wisdom behind that advice. But how does networking work? Call a friend? Ask a roommate?
With the best of intentions, parents will sometimes suggest speaking to someone that they know well whom they think might be able to help. So they provide and a name and contact information for their student/grad to reach out for a conversation. Great, but what does that conversation look like? What is the plan?
Often, there is no plan because the student/grad does not know what to say or ask for, so that conversation will not produce positive results because they have failed to impress the person they have been introduced to.
The two responses you don’t want to hear after a networking call are, “I don’t know of anything right now but I will let you know if I hear of anything,” or “I will send your resume to our human resources team.” Networking, like interviewing, is a skill and needs to be thoughtfully approached to get the desired results.
How do you do that, exactly? Interviewing is often a 2 way street – someone asks the questions, you respond, and then you need feedback about the quality of your responses and how they can be improved.
Simply reading a list of possible questions (and there can be hundreds) and thinking about how you might answer them does not provide you with the information required to improve upon your responses.
We have seen parents try to get involved with asking interview questions and critiquing answers. The outcome of these sessions is often disastrous – the interviewee feels criticized and marginalized and takes the feedback personally.
Many parents are unfamiliar with how employers currently approach interviewing. Are you familiar with STAR? It’s an algorithm and technique for responding to behavioral interview questions — one of the most basic concepts behind today’s interviews. Behavioral interviews are critical, especially for a population of job seekers with minimal or no work experience.
Your student/grad needs emotional support, encouragement, and a reminder of all those things that make them unique and special. Don’t make the mistake of trying to become their job coach – it usually leads to frustration for you both. Our best advice is leave the coaching to professionals like Priority Candidates who have a plan and a track record of success.