Consider the Gift of Career Coaching for Your Graduate

by on May 16, 2012

Consider the Gift of Career Coaching for Your Graduate

The month of May is the time of the year for college graduations.  Many a graduate, after numerous years of study, is leaving university life to seek out the first major employment position of their life.  For the parents of those graduates, this brings about many emotions.  One may be of their own graduation from school and what it was like seeking out that first position.  Another may be all the money that was paid out for that education.   The hope is that their son or daughter is able to quickly find a position that will help to get them established on their own and which also will help to pay back the loans that were taken out to finance that education.  In the difficult job market that has existed for the last few years there can be fear and anxiety on both the part of the graduate and their parents as to from where that first employment position may emerge.

Our institutions of learning often do a very good job of preparing our young people in the areas of studies which they receive their degree.  An area however, where they often do not do a very good job is in preparing them for the search for employment.  Yes, schools may invite companies on campus to conduct interviews.  Some of those relationships go back many years as school and corporation have established a bond where hiring companies look to fill their openings with qualified candidates from the school.  However, when companies have less in the way of open positions, or due to budget restraints are limited in terms of the number of new hires in whom they can invest their resources these visits are more often done as a courtesy than as a real opportunity for the graduates.

Often parents, relatives or close friends of the family contemplate what they can provide the graduate as a gift.  I make the case that one of the best gifts they can invest in is career coaching for the new graduate.  While the immediate reaction may be, isn’t this an expensive gift to be giving, when compared to the cost that has been spent to obtain the college education, it is not even close in terms of dollars and cents.  Additionally, there are ways to give this gift inexpensively, and yet have the skills and lessons learned from it become ones that will last the graduate a lifetime in terms of what they will learn.  That is because today’s graduate is likely beginning a life that will have them in job search more often than this initial entry into the workforce from college.  Statistics show that the average individual beginning a 40 to 50 year career today will likely have about four to five different careers and about twelve to thirteen jobs in their lifetime.  And, each time they are in search, they will need to come back to certain basic skills.

So, what are those skills? One is learning from the beginning that most job opportunities come from their ability to either make “direct contact” or be “networked in” to companies which they want to work.  The more people with whom you are able to connect share information and contacts with throughout your working life, and both look out for them while they look out for you, will make you a more effective job searcher.  Another is to learn to interview as a consultant.  Those interviewing as a consultant learn to ask as many questions about a position and company, as they are asked by a perspective employer.  This way, as they learn more and more about a company, they put themselves in a position to demonstrate to that employer where they are a good fit for their organization and how they are able to solve the company’s problems.  Another is how to target companies and positions that they seek in the geographic area(s) they are looking to work.  The smart job seeker goes after companies as opposed to chasing openings as part of their search.

Even if there is reluctance on the part of the graduate or their parents to invest in a full scale relationship with a career coach, an inexpensive option is to consider providing them books that will help them with their search.  The Five O’Clock Club’s series of materials on how to conduct a job search campaign cost an individual approximately $50 and yet are truly “a graduate course” in job search.  I have worked with these materials with several younger people in the course of my career coaching.  The comments I always get is the material both makes a great deal of sense, and how come no one ever told me these ideas in the first place?  The best answer I can give to this last question is twofold.  One is the academic organizations of which they have been a part are focused on providing them a degree in their area of study, and not focused on the best way to conduct a job search.  Secondly, the Five O’Clock Club’s materials built on over 25 years of research are eye opening even to veteran job searchers let alone to those who are new to the process.  Recent students take very well to these materials, as they are usually disciplined in terms of studying and following processes.

Does a career coach or text books mean instant success for the recent graduate in finding that first major job position?  No, a job search for everyone is hard work and there will be a lot of ups and downs along the way.  However, it certainly provides the graduate a roadmap and methods that are far better than just randomly sitting around and hoping for the best as they blindly apply to openings that may come their way.  As a parent, remember you have helped to invest so much in their life to date.  A little further investment will assist them in facing a working world that is far different in complexity than the one you had to first face when you were in the same position as they are now.

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