Anyone who has built a career knows that finding your first job is a real challenge. There’s no class in college called, “How to Find a Job That Will Make You Happy,” and many stumble to carve out their own paths in those first couple of years.
When you’re on the verge of graduating, it’s tempting to get buried under online applications and advice from career counselors, all the while forgetting there’s one untapped resource right at our fingertips. Remember those people who raised you?
Your parents are a great resource for the job search process, serving as consultants who help you hone in on your strengths, tap into a wider network, prepare for an interview, and evaluate an offer. But don’t just take our word for it, we spoke with Campus Recruiters at Philips, Brett Romary and Rebecca Abrahams, about how to leverage your parents’ wisdom to make that big jump into your first job a great one:
Get Their Feedback
Your parents, it turns out, know you better than almost anyone. They’re a great resource to help you understand your strengths and passions. And luckily, parents are always there (remember when you couldn’t get away from them fast enough?). They can help with the job search process from the very beginning—from figuring out what cities you want to live in, to what kind of role you want to pursue.
As you consider the route you want to take—and the opportunities that arise from there—parents are a great sounding board to help you process this big life change. Rebecca says, “Young professionals and their parents would benefit from having a good conversation about each opportunity. Is this something that’s aligned with what you did in college and your interests?” You can be a bit more vulnerable (hopefully) with your parents than with your career counselor, which will help you to honestly examine how you feel about a certain opportunity.
That said, make room for your own instincts, too. Sometimes, parents want to sway you in a certain direction; building awareness around that will help you strike a balance between benefiting from their support and making independent decisions.
Tap Into Their Network
Parents have networks, even if they’re informal. These communities may be the key to making inroads into your first job, and they’re worth tapping into. “Making professional introductions is huge,” says Brett. “Parents probably have connections somewhere, whether they work in this field or not. They can really help candidates learn more; the possibilities of these connections are endless.”
Don’t dismiss your parents’ network just because they don’t work in a field related to your interests. Although it’s hard to believe, your parents are social beings. Maybe a neighbor, PTA member, or friend of your dad’s has your dream job. So, ask your parents to mention to their friends (and acquaintances) that you’re looking for a role—you never know what will come of it.
As Brett notes, “These communities often serve as the bridge between students who are just graduating and a job.” And, your parents’ network is one of the easiest ways to get your hat into the ring—you know your parents are dying to brag about your qualifications!
Ask for Professional Prep
Many parents have worked in a professional setting for years, if not decades, so they have a wealth of information about how to navigate a new job. Talk to your parents about the most important career lessons they’ve learned along the way. “Parents can really help their children develop business acumen within the field,” Brett says.
In no situation is this truer than in the interview process. “Young professionals are really nervous because they’ve never interviewed before,” says Brett. “We tell them to practice; if their parents can help prep them at all, it’s a huge plus.”
Set aside time to do a few mock interviews with mom or dad. This kind of exercise will make it easier to get comfortable when you’re in front of a hiring manager, and ask your parents to give you helpful tips to improve your pitch.
When you’re evaluating a compensation package, it’s difficult to know where to even begin. You probably don’t know the difference between HMO and PPO insurance plans or have a clear sense of expectations for vacation days.
Online research can be really helpful, but if your parents have experience negotiating compensation packages, they could be your best resource. Rebecca says, “It can become really overwhelming to assess your first package because you’re not sure what’s the norm. That’s why we encourage students to talk to their parents.”
Beyond helping you assess the package itself, they can give you insight into whether the compensation is something you could really live on. Work with your parents to create a budget around your potential salary to make sure you can cover daily expenses, have savings, and plan for retirement.
As a young professional, you’re in the driver’s seat. But use the knowledge and experience of your parents, and give yourself a boost when you need one most. We bet your parents are going to give you unsolicited advice anyway, so why not solicit the advice you really need—that extra support from your parents could help you launch your career.