Monday, May 25, 2015

What college grads and their parents need to know about the job search

A workshop this week will help recent college grads and their parents learn strategies for building a professional network to find leads for that first job.

What college grads and their parents need to know about the job search

College commencements are largely over, the graduation cards have been opened, and now the hard part:

Finding a job during a time of rising unemployment.

Last week, Campus Philly held what it called an Opportunity Fair on the St. Joseph’s University campus that attracted 825 grads to network and meet representatives from 45 companies that had openings for jobs or internships.

This week, a smaller event caught my eye, called “Getting the Kids Off the Payroll.” The June 25th workshop, being presented by the executive search firm Salveson Stetson Group, is geared toward helping college graduates and their parents apply strategies to find the doors that might open into the work world.

The Radnor firm normally places executives in six-figure positions at Fortune 500 firms and nonprofit organizations. However, many Salveson Stetson clients have been mentioning their frustration over their sons’ and daughters’ stalled job searches.

John F. Salveson could relate, because the two most recent college graduates from his household didn’t know how to begin either.

Few people in their 20s know how the career game works, and colleges and universities don’t do a good job preparing them for it, Salveson said. Often, parents haven’t looked for a job in a long time and don’t know how to help their kids.

Now the event’s sold-out - 25 families will participate - but I asked Salveson what’s the No. 1 thing he’ll impress on them. “This is a contact sport,” he said.

By that, he means building contacts in-person, not electronically through social media networks or texting. He doesn’t believe those tools will get you a job.

Instead, grads must focus on what they want to do, and what kind of company they want to do it for, Salveson said. They shouldn’t be searching for open jobs, but learning as much as they can about the field they want to pursue.

You do that by trying to get meetings in the offices of people at the companies in that industry and asking lots of questions. How do you get that first meeting? It could start with a referral by a parent to one of their friends or colleagues. That’s how someone begins to build relationships in a network that will lead to opportunities at some point.

Yes, the job market is gloomy, but you can’t let your mindset be that way, Salveson advised. Building a network is not a linear process, but it’s the kind of effort that will help you find the internships and job openings before they’re advertised.

Salveson’s children are gainfully employed. His daughter, Kate, now 24, works in recruitment for a health-care company in Kennett Square. His son, Peter, now 26, does market research for a publishing firm.

Obviously, who you know can be important. But connections alone won’t get you the job, Salveson said. That’s up to the grads, their knowledge, their enthusiasm and their initiative.

Legally speaking

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Woodcock Washburn L.L.P., the Philadelphia intellectual property law firm, two 10-year contracts worth as much as $314 million.

One contract to provide legal services in the field of biotechnology amounts to up to $199.5 million. The other, for chemistry, is for up to $114.5 million.

Woodcock Washburn, which has been a contractor for NIH since 2002, was one of just three law firms to have been awarded both contracts.

Annual Meetings

This week’s shareholder meetings:

* Armstrong World Industries, Tyco Electronics Ltd. (Monday.)

* Orthovita (Tuesday.)

* Astea International, Pep Boys Manny, Moe & Jack (Wednesday.)

* Charming Shoppes (Thursday.)
 

Inquirer Columnist
About this blog
Mike Armstrong blogs about Philadelphia corporations and business-related topics. Contact him at 215-854-2980. Reach Mike at marmstrong@phillynews.com.

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist