How to help your young adult land their first job  

Parents who want to support their kids in their first job hunt may be tempted to think back to lessons learned from their own mom and dad. This might elicit eye-rolls and audible sighs from your 20-somethings – and they’d be justified. According to Timothy Lang, CEO and President of Youth Employment Services (YES), the job market has drastically changed since you started your career.

“There are fewer jobs and many employers are only offering part-time or contract positions,” says Lang. Young people will have to change jobs many times throughout their career as a result. And even just securing a position in the first place is often more challenging than in the past.

But there are several ways that parents can help their children set themselves up for job-hunt success. Here’s how.

  1. Support experimentation

 Encourage youth to “cast a wide net” when thinking about where to start their career, Lang suggests. Young job seekers should explore options that they may not have considered in the past, even in areas that they don’t initially find interesting. “We have seen thousands of examples where people end up having very fulfilling careers in areas they did not know they would even enjoy,” says Lang. And, he continues, even if that experimentation doesn’t lead to a career, the skills and experience gained will help when looking for the next job.

  1. Help them understand their skills

 One of the biggest missteps for those new to the workforce is not understanding how their previous experience could relate to the job they want. As a result, many young people stumble when writing their resumes. They may not realize that retail experience, for example, provides them with soft skills, including communication and customer service, which are attractive to employers of all kinds. “Youth today are also very adaptable, and that’s a huge benefit for those coming into a workforce where they will constantly need to upgrade their skills and knowledge,” Lang says. “Parents can help them articulate these attributes on resumes and interviews.”

  1. Restrain yourself

 Don’t be overzealous in your desire to help or protect your adult children, though. Lang says occasionally he’s seen parents go so far as to attend job interviews with their kids. “That never ends well,” he says.

  1. Stay positive

 This is, perhaps, the most important way you can support your young job-hunter. While putting out 30 resumes and receiving rejections for all of them can be incredibly discouraging, parents can help youth see the big picture. “At the end of the day, yes, people want experience from a new hire. But they really want people that will fit in well and are positive and will have a good work ethic. I have personally hired people who sometimes have less experience but show they are a good team player and learn quickly,” says Lang.

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