Gary Burnison is the CEO of Korn Ferry and author of Lose the Resume, Land the Job.
The helicopter has landed.
After 20-plus years of arranging everything in their kids’ lives, from playdates to summer internships, parents need to step back so their college graduates can step up.
No matter how “helpful” parents want to be, too much help can sabotage the process. It’s time for the grads to “graduate” to adult life.
Here are six things parents need to know and do — from the sidelines.
They won’t listen to you...
No matter how much you want to tell your new college graduate, it’s not going to work. They just won’t listen to you. You might get away with suggesting what they should think about when it comes to getting a job, but you can’t tell them what to think.
…But they will listen to someone else.
Put your graduate in touch with someone in your network who’s willing to be a mentor or a sounding board. I’ve been on both sides of this. While my own kids never listen to me, their friends definitely do. They make it a point to come over and ask me questions about finding their passion and getting the right job. As for my kids, I put them in touch with someone else.
They have to own it.
The transition from college to career is all about taking control. As the parent, you can’t do it for them. The first step in starting their careers is for the graduate to identify where they want to work, the kind of work environment where they’ll fit in, and the jobs that interest them. That means networking so they can navigate the “six degrees of separation” between where they are and where they want to go.
“Keep sending out resumes!” is the worst advice.
Having your college grad spend all day submitting resumes online may seem like an improvement over, say, binge-watching Netflix in their pajamas. But not by much. Online job postings receive hundreds of applications. Getting through the screening and ending up with an interview has about the same odds as winning the lottery. It’s all about networking and your grad owning the process.
Drop the “30 years and a gold watch” talk.
Don’t add to the job search pressure with stories (yours or someone else’s) of spending “30 years with the same company.” That’s not the world your college grad is entering. Young professionals change jobs every year or two, which means having a 12- to 18-month perspective. Graduates today will probably have 30 or more jobs over the course of their careers, while you may have only a half-dozen or so. No one fresh out of college knows what they to do for the rest of their lives. How could they? They don’t even know what they don’t know—even though they often act like they do.
List their room on Airbnb.
Just kidding. But you do need to set the expectation that within a reasonable timeframe your graduate is going to be working and moving out, whether on their own or with a roommate or two. A colleague of mine tells the story of a friend who, immediately after graduation, spent a year overseas on an unpaid internship with an NGO. As he was preparing to return to the U.S., his parents asked him, “Where shall we send your stuff?” It was all in boxes, ready to be shipped to his next address, which was not going to be their house. He got the message, moved in with a couple of friends, and got a job.
As the parent, it’s not up to you to get your grad a job — no matter how much you think you can “help.” The best graduation gift you can give is to back off – let them take the control and take off from here