Helping your kid get a job: First, don't nag

The graduation euphoria fades away, the parties are over, and now, you, as a parent, have a young graduate at home, unemployed. How can you help? How much should you help?  How do you harness your natural inclination to "fix" things? How do you help your child avoid discouragement? How do you motivate? How do you stay out of the way?

"We start off talking about what the ground rules are," said John Touey, a partner at Salveson Stetson Group, a Radnor executive search firm. On Tuesday, the group hosts a job-search workshop for college graduates - and their parents -- at Brandywine Realty Trust's office in Radnor. It's an interesting format. Students get job search tips from a coach from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The parents have a separate workshop that goes from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Then both sides get together for a networking cocktail party from 5 to 6. p.m.

Sometimes we think we should have the drinks during the parent session," Touey joked, saying it sometimes turns into a "group therapy session. There is some anxiety about having the child at home."

Parents, he said, spend the first 18 or so years of their child's life acting "as the CEO of the family. A lot of parents have a lot of difficulty moving from the CEO role to the consulting role, because they are so conditioned to be the director, not the adviser. But that director role really turns the kids off."

Don't insist, Touey said, that your young graduate spend eight hours a day looking for a job. It'll probably amount to a lot of wasted time looking online. It's better to help them set a goal, say, three or four hours a day, or 20 hours a week, and then let them stop. That avoids burnout and discouragement, Touey said.

Parents would have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not see the realities of the work situation, particularly after this recession. But Touey said, try to keep those fears to yourself. They don't promote optimism at a time when optimism is needed. "If you express your feelings in a way that is fearful, it could be transmitted to the kids' outlooks," he said. Remember, they don't have a history of when things were different. This reality is their reality and they aren't really able to judge it against the "good old days," whenever they were.

Parents can also help by using their own networks to help their children. It's OK for parents to ask their friends and associates to talk to their children. "That's one place where the parents have to be pro-active," he said. "For whatever reason, students are reluctant to make the contacts. They think it's cheating, somehow, and that they should be able to do it on their own."

But, he said, it's also important to make sure the young person goes into the network meeting prepared, Touey said. As advisers, parents can help their young job seekers figure out their goals for the meeting, the right questions to ask, the right way to conduct themselves. "It's got to be a collaborative process and it's got to make sense," he said.

The parents who come to this event, Touey said, sometimes form a group and agree to serve as resources for each other's children.

The event costs $25 per family, which Touey said, covers basic expenses and weeds out no-shows.

For more information on how to register: Call 610-341-9020 or email

Brandywine Realty Trust is located at 555 E. Lancaster Ave., Suite 100, Radnor, PA.

Tomorrow: How to get the most out of an internship.

Last week, I wrote a couple of posts on Millennials. You can click here and here to read them. Last year, my colleagues and I wrote a series about Millennials and their job prospects. Click here to read it.