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Recent Grads Are Still Struggling. As Parents And Professionals, How Can We Support Them?     

During the pandemic, recent graduates have been struggling to secure roles and remain optimistic during their frustrating job hunt. Even those individuals who have been lucky enough to obtain a position are suffering from the lack of support in the current norm of working from home.     


According to LinkedIn News, job postings are now 20% higher than they were pre-pandemic; however, entry-level roles are still hard to come by. In the competitive financial services and fintech industries, new graduates face a particularly tough interview process. The Wall Street Journal has noted they'll face tough competition not only from 2020 grads who were unable to land a role due to Covid but also young job seekers who were laid off during the height of the pandemic.  


Although these graduates may have excelled at college, success in job hunting requires very different skills that have often not been introduced to them in any meaningful way. As parents and professionals ourselves, we wanted to share some tips to support recent graduates during this challenging time.    


Introduce them to the art and science of networking

Applying for jobs online and hearing no response can be soul-destroying after a few months, and 45% of recent graduates are still using LinkedIn as their primary job search method. In today’s job market, applying through job boards suck as Linkedin is necessary, but a very crowded field. However, there are additional ways to get a leg up from the competition.


As a parent, we encourage you to help graduates look for alternative approaches, connections, and word-of-mouth recommendations. Instead of just sympathizing while they cold-apply for roles through job boards (often referred to as a "black hole"), show these recent grads how to add a side-door approach by taking advantage of their current network. By fostering personal connections or networking those they already have from their college days, including reaching out to alumni, connecting with childhood friends, their friends’ parents, etc., they can learn about hidden job openings and get ahead of the competition. They may need a little help composing the first few outreach messages and preparing how they want to approach professionals over the phone.  


Tap your network, too

Who in your own network is working in your graduate’s career field? Ask if they might have some tips for your son or daughter and, if possible, try and facilitate a 10-minute call with your recent graduate. Depending on the conversation, they may be able to facilitate an introduction to other professionals that may be willing to connect.  


For example, your grad is looking to land a position within the financial services industry. Do you have any friends or colleagues who work as an RIA or investment advisor at a wealth management firm? Do you have a financial advisor who handles your accounts? You can reach out in a friendly and casual way: “My son just graduated and given the pandemic, he has had a difficult time obtaining traction on his job search. If you have any advice to offer, or would be willing to speak with him for a few minutes to add some insights on the financial services industry, we’d be grateful.” Try to connect them with your graduate. The goal is to help them have conversations---not to ask for a job but to “pick their brain”, develop a rapport, build their network, etc.  Please remind them it has to be a two-way conversation. This person is willing to speak with them, so have them ask the person about their background and insights on the industry and job search. Often if a rapport is built, the professional will volunteer to forward their resume to their employer or someone in their network.  


Mock Interviews can be the difference between getting the job and NOT

First-time job seekers often don’t realize how important or detailed the interview can be. If a recent grad has been lucky enough to beat out hundreds or thousands of applicants for an interview, proper preparation is a must to help them secure the role. Typical questions can be expected at almost any interview, but you’ll be surprised by the number of recent grads who struggle to walk interviewers through their resumes and highlight their strengths and skills.  


As a parent, you can conduct mock interviews to assist your son or daughter with their interview skills, responses to questions, etc. Have them research some of the more common interview questions for that role and then have them prepare their own answers. Then conduct a mock interview as the hiring manager. Ask them the standard questions, but also push them to think on the spot with some tougher ones as well, to prepare them for unexpected questions during an interview.  In the end, they’ll be much more confident and articulate when the time comes.  


Onboarded to Zoomland  

Individuals who have been able to secure a job during this unusual time are now faced with remote onboarding and endless Zoom calls. There’s little chance to form relationships within their new company and improve their skills and knowledge with the help of coworkers who are just “screen” relationships as yet. Often new employees learn by just listening and observing their coworkers’ behaviors and that opportunity is now gone.  


Hopefully, this will improve in the now not-so-distant return to human contact. In the meantime, check your network again for someone in your grad’s industry who might be able to provide a little insight, share articles or tips on what a rookie should expect, read, etc. Most adult professionals are willing to help young people just starting out. Encouragement from another professional could help to boost their energy and keep them motivated during this challenging time.   

Elisa Sheftic is the President and Managing Partner of Right Executive Search, LLC. Her expertise is placing mid- to C-level executives in the Financial Technology (fintech) and Financial Services industries. She communicates with Human Resources, Hiring Managers, and candidates on a daily basis and offers insights to clients and candidates on recruiting best practices. Elisa received her MBA from New York University and completed her HR post-graduate studies at Cornell University.

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