It's graduation season, and if you're the lucky parent of a newly launched 2015 college grad, you're in good company. About two million young people will graduate from college this year, and once the celebratory mortarboard toss is over, your grad will be facing one of the biggest challenges of his or her young life: finding a job.
In today’s radically changed job market, many grads have expectations that may not align with reality. In fact, eight in 10 expect to have a job in their field within a year, with more than half expecting to land one within two months, according to Upromise.com, a college savings website.
These young people may be setting themselves up for disappointment. A new report from the New York Federal Reserve says that nearly half -- 46 percent -- of this year’s grads will struggle to find a job that requires a degree.
As a parent, you should know what to expect as your graduate begins to navigate the 21st century job market. Such information is crucial to helping him or her stand out, and ultimately, land that first job. Whether you’re the jump-in-and-help or stand-back sort of parent, here are three major things to consider as you help your young grad:
1. Find a direction, any direction.
Finding direction may be hard for your grad. Yes, the stakes feel high, but they aren’t really. I have yet to meet anyone who found that dream job right after college. Both you and your grad should know that the direction he or she chooses now won’t be the final direction. But for success in landing that first job, it is critical that your young graduate son or daughter find his or her (first) direction and pursue it as if it were their last.
One piece of advice young people often get is "follow your passion." While that sentiment is nice, in reality it's not very helpful. Instead, I suggest that grads “find their 51 percent” -- meaning a direction that piques their curiosity and that they have interest in pursuing.
It’s helpful if grads focus on the companies and sectors that are hiring (here's a good place to start). Hiring managers at the companies we work with tell us they look for candidates who have a good sense of what they’re pursuing, and why, and who ask questions that demonstrate that they’ve done their research.
2. Failing fast and cheap is the new normal.
Today’s grads have often been sheltered from failure. But from this point on, they’re going to fail, often a lot. One of our favorite mottos is "fail fast and cheap." Avoiding failure cuts off our opportunity for learning.
It's important to realize that academic success shows only that your grad can succeed in an academic environment: Employers like Google have data demonstrating that good grades don't effectively predict professional success. The same goes for a high IQ or an impressive university name on your diploma.
The new predictor of success? GRIT. This term, coined by psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth, means not only being comfortable with failure, but also sticking to a task even after failure occurs. I like to compare this concept with having an indomitable spirit.
3. Give them space.
An essential part of helping your grad develop the key attributes employers are looking for is to let them do it by themselves. While this can be a big challenge for many parents, a hands-off approach is crucial to a young person’s success.
You can still help them: Suggest they research who's hiring, and then hone in on employers that really interest them. Then, let them scan your LinkedIn network to find connections they can talk with. Not only will this help them define and narrow their direction, but they will be learning how to network -- and networking is gold.
Just remember, there’s no rule book, and many smart, qualified kids struggle as they search for their next step.
The best way to help is to encourage your young grad to be his or her very best self. By being authentic, curious, determined and present, these young men and women will find their way. And that will be something to celebrate, too.