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Will Your Kid Have the Right Network?

Chances are you know someone who is looking for a new job but is having a difficult time breaking through. I recently spoke with someone who’s applied for—wait for it—1,000 jobs in the past year with no offers. Before you dismiss her story, she has a strong resume and has been doing all the ‘right things’ career coaches recommend. She just can’t break through. The one asterisk to her story is that she’s looking for a job in a new town, a place where her roots have yet to grow deep.

The job market waxes and wanes over time; we all know that. Regardless of the market's health, all of our kids will eventually be in it. But will they have the network they need to break through the software filters? Will they have the relationship capital to get their name towards the top of the pile, at least enough to be considered for an interview, when the availability of virtual employment ensures their competition pool is global?

Referrals and recommendations will always work, assuming our kids have them. Will your kids have the network they need to succeed?

Our main goal, of course, is to guide our kids toward taking initiative and living autonomously. Research has proven that putting extrinsic pressure on them to achieve will have a deleterious effect on all parts of their lives. Bummer, huh? Parenting would be a lot simpler if we could just manage their lives for them.

Instead, we have to help them make their own choices. That being said, they’re young and naive and don’t yet understand how the world works. Every now and then, we have the opportunity to share our wisdom with them.

So, for the kid who says: “Help me do the right things to get a good job!” below are the top tips we’d offer:

1. Encourage Involvement in Campus Organizations and Events
College campuses are rich with opportunities for students to get involved in clubs, organizations, and events related to their fields of interest. Encourage your child to join professional or academic clubs, attend guest lectures, and participate in career fairs and networking events. These activities provide valuable industry insights and offer direct connections with professors, industry professionals, and like-minded peers who can become part of their professional network.
 

2. Leverage Alumni Networks and Mentorship Programs
Many colleges have robust alumni networks and mentorship programs designed to help students connect with graduates who are already established in their careers. Encourage your kid to reach out to the alumni association and participate in any mentorship programs the school offers. Alumni can provide guidance, share their career experiences, and potentially open doors to internships, job opportunities, and other professional connections.

3. Promote LinkedIn
In today's digital age, online networking is just as important as face-to-face interactions. Guide your kid in creating a professional LinkedIn profile, complete with a professional photo, a well-crafted summary, and details of their academic and extracurricular achievements. Encourage them to connect with classmates, professors, internship supervisors, and any professionals they meet through networking events. Additionally, they should join LinkedIn groups related to their career interests to engage in discussions and stay updated on industry trends.

Don’t worry if your kid isn’t open to your direct advice; fear not. You can be just as intentional to pass along your wisdom; you just have to do it more subtly. Tell them stories about your work history and your relationships with your colleagues. Highlight moments when having a solid connection with someone was an asset.

Above all the strategies and tactics, a real professional network is founded on genuine friendships. Encourage your kids through your life example and your encouragement to build authentic relationships with people throughout their lives wherever they go and use technology to keep in touch with them. Remind them to be thoughtful and generous with their time and attention. Challenge them to take the initiative to have conversations with their teachers, professors, and bosses.

Every job or client I’ve had has come through previous relationships. I’m sure you’re no different. Let’s teach our kids the same life lesson.


 

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For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.  

They're uncommon sense ideas, really.

Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).

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