Eat cake, get a job

How many of you have been to a graduation party this month? How many ate too much potato salad or dug into a second piece of cake? Well, you can be forgiven if you can actually add some value to that college grad's search for a job. A starting place might be this book: "Parent's Guide to Colleges and Careers: How to Help, Not Hover."

Here's some advice from the author, Barbara Cooke, a college career counselor:

  • Encourage your child to answer four key career-planning questions: (1) What skills do I enjoy using? (2) Where are those skills used in the economy? (3) Which of those jobs fits with my values and personality preferences? (4) What additional education or work experience would I need to get the job I really want?


  • Help your child identify his network. These people can be family members, friends, neighbors, your co-workers—anyone he would feel comfortable talking with on an informal basis. These contacts can provide your child with job leads, additional networking contacts, introductions to people in various sectors of the economy, suggestions on how to redo his resume or target a better job, and insight into what employers are looking for in candidates.


  • Talk to your child about values as they relate to career satisfaction. Values are how people evaluate the merits or drawbacks of different jobs. Values are what make people say “I’ll take the job!” or “There is no way I would do that for a living!” Because you have more work experience to draw on in articulating work values, you need to be careful not to overwhelm your child with your experience and opinions.

     Cooke suggests some caution when it comes to setting an automatic course for graduate school. Grad school represents a significant investment in a career and should not be undertaken lightly. First of all, there's the money -- it has to be well worth it if there is going to be an addition to a student loan. Secondly, the student may come out with too much education and too little experience, a problem in the job market. She advises that before a student decides on grad school, he should speak with people who already have the degree and find out if it helped, or not. 

     Cooke's book is published by Jist Publishing, a division of EMC Corp. Jist is a longtime publisher of career-oriented materials.