Parental Guidance

How you can help

It’s tough being a graduate hunting for a job, but it can be as tough for parents trying to help. After years of financial and emotional investment in a child’s education it can be heart breaking seeing a young person floundering as they try to break into the jobs market.
We all know that young people have a strong sense of pride, and so it’s easy for them to feel a sense of failure if they don’t get off to a flying start. Who wouldn’t loose confidence when some of your best mates are earning £40 k plus on a golden grad scheme, and you still haven’t clinched an interview?
The months that follow graduation are a transitional time for parents and young people alike. ‘It’s time for them to mange on their own two feet’ may be the cultural sentiment, but the reality is often very different. This is when many graduates need the help of a parent more than ever.

So how can you help?

Firstly, consider where you can offer your help most effectively. This will depend on your relationship with your child and your own talents. Are you most effective as a network facilitator, creative writing editor, performance critic or proofreader?! Access your own strengths realistically and work out where you can make the best contribution.

Some graduates are shy about keeping you in the picture. So this may be the first hurdle that you need to overcome. One tactic is to ensure your young person doesn’t feel threatened by your involvement. It is so important that they always retain ownership of the process, and that you respect the limitations of your advisory role – that means accepting that your comments may be valued, or ruthlessly binned!

As a careers coach I find that I can be of most value when I give focused guidance. This means I tend to structure my sessions around the key stages of the job-searching process. You might find it helpful to consider these stages and explore where your graduate needs most help. In the graduate resources section I have included a few tips for each stage. Each tip might inspire some of your own thoughts and give you stimulus for a brainstorming session with your young person.

Key stages of the job-searching process:

Above all, I find that my role is often to keep a young person thinking positively. Helping young people develop emotional resilience during the job searching process is key. It’s easy for rejections to knock their confidence, and the solitary process of job searching can be dispiriting. Just a little time ago the young person had a clear student identity, and suddenly a lack of belonging can leave them questioning who they are.

This is a time when parents need to be ultra sensitive. There may be moments when you can’t get anything right and when you simply have to take the invisible back seat. But through understanding their vulnerabilities and helping them think positive you will be playing an invaluable role.


For further ideas contact: