Exasperated Baby Boomer Patricia called about her college student graduating in a month. She said, “My daughter Emily has refused my help or the assistance of my friend who is in HR. When I ask her why, she tells me she doesn’t want to use anybody, and wants to do this all on her own. She says, ‘I can do this.’ But 55 applications later, she hasn’t had one interview. What can I do to help get her career launched?”
Patricia knows that networking is vital for a successful job hunt. But Emily does not yet have that perspective, which is illustrated by her not wanting help from family or even a friend in the HR field. She believes she needs no help to land her first job. Unfortunately, many college students think this way. Most students and recent graduates hate to network, so it should be impressed upon them that this is a step in the job hunting process that should not be passed over.
Here are some important points about networking to stress to your student. Many jobs are found through networking: talking to people, friends, family and other college students—especially if you have friends who have already graduated and are working. Networking is not using people; it’s just talking to others to get information about the company and available job opportunities. It also gives you a leg up if a friend passes your resume on to their employer. Today, many companies give a financial reward to employees if their referrals are hired.
Offer Resume Help
Many college students have a very poor resume. They don’t know how to write it, as they likely haven’t created one before. They will sometimes ask friends for copies of theirs, as Emily did, or will get a sample from a college professor. These samples are typically not designed for marketing that student in the best possible light. A parent can offer resume help, and often the student will accept it.
First, read about resumes for new graduates. Try to find a few in the same major as your student. Don’t offer to write it for them but ask if you can make some recommendations on how to improve it. Offer some specific ideas. For example, look closely at their work experience and their job descriptions. They often need boosting. Usually, the student missed some critical skill or accomplishment you can suggest they add. If they had an internship, be sure they capture all aspects relevant to the job they seek.
Under education, the student will list their degree and dean’s list or GPA. Yet, they can aid their success by listing relevant coursework based on the job they seek. These contain many great keywords that will help their resume get noticed by an employer’s applicant tracking system and demonstrate to an employer that they have a solid foundation to bring to the new job. For example, my career counseling client, Eric, wanted a job as a financial analyst. He had been unable to get an internship, so adding his college coursework was essential. Under the education section, Eric noted the relevant classes, which were the key to landing his first job. Here’s what his entire education section looked like.
Coursework: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Statistics, Econometrics, Business Finance, Economic Consulting, Money/Credit Banking, International Trade – Finance, Accounting, Business Law, Calculus
Reviewing your son or daughter’s transcript will give you all the necessary information to add the relevant coursework to the resume. Advise them to just list the classes that support the career area the student wants to land a job in.
Advice About Developing A LinkedIn Profile
Employers are searching LinkedIn every day to find talent. Every new graduate, or someone about to graduate, should have a LinkedIn profile. It should be as complete as possible: the headline noting he or she is a recent graduate and in what major, and the job titles the student is interested in. Colleges and universities don’t always teach students how to prepare a LinkedIn profile. Tell your student that recruiters are on LinkedIn every single day, but they must be able to find them. Recruiters actively reach out about job opportunities they want to interest them in. Offer clear directions on how to create and improve their profile.
Cover how their photo should appear. A professional picture is not necessary. They can use their phone to take the photo. It’s not a snapshot, where they cut themselves out of a family picture or social event. It is not the picture they use on Instagram. Point out that an appropriate photo is a headshot where they are smiling and look warm and engaging. They want a plain background and good lighting. Outside pictures or one taken with natural light inside are best. For more photo tips and what to wear, read the Forbes article “LinkedIn Photo Tips To Look Your Best.”