If your child has recently graduated from college and is now looking for – or has hopefully found – her first "real" job, you may want to impart great wisdom to her. It's a difficult time for an inexperienced worker to enter the workforce, but these tips can help make the entry easier and better align her expectations with reality. Here is the best advice to new grads.
The most qualified job candidate does not necessarily get the job offer: Having been in the workforce for a while, you know that hiring isn't always fair and based on merit. What better time to learn that lesson than as a new graduate? Tell your kids it takes more than just a well-qualified résumé to get hired. The candidate who will get the job is the one who self-markets and demonstrates to the employer that she is the best fit for the company's needs, problems and challenges.
Research your way to success: Getting a job is sometimes a little like all those exams your graduate is happy to leave behind. Hiring managers want to know that a candidate has done her research on the company and industry. Reading press releases, the company website, industry websites and blogs and even social media profiles can help your job seeker find out what this company is all about, and its recent success.
Networking: It's all too easy to discount the importance of networking, especially for 20-somethings. But as we more seasoned employees know, networking often opens doors to jobs that aren't even advertised. A simple, casual conversation can end with your graduate sending her résumé to a key decision-maker at a company, making it easier for her to score her first job. Every professional should adopt the discipline of blocking out time on your calendar for networking activities – now and for the duration of your career.
An employer's offer is never the best offer: Most graduates will simply be happy to get any job offer, especially knowing how bad the economy is. But encourage your child to push for more. Do the research to find out what this position typically pays in your area, with her level of experience. Companies usually make an offer with some wiggle room, since they're willing to negotiate for the right candidate. They never revoke the job offer simply if the candidate asks for a little more, even if its first offer is the best one. Plus, most employers expect you to negotiate.
Graduating from school is the beginning of your education: Try to impart on your graduate that while the grades are over, the learning process is just beginning. To stay hireable and qualify for promotions and raises, an employee has to stay current on her knowledge of tools and the industry. The good news is: College graduates' brains are still malleable, and it's easy for them to learn new skills quickly, making them more appealing to employers.
Encourage your graduate to read books, blogs and magazines about her industry, attend conferences and workshops, and find a mentor who can help keep her fresh on the topics she needs to know about.