The academic year is only a month away and while your high school or college student is getting ready to tackle the books, now is a great time to discuss their plans for the future. Although they may only be focused on graduation at the moment, a young adult will realize their student status has come to an abrupt end when they are quickly re-labeled as a “recent graduate seeking employment”. The good news is that there is some career-readiness homework they can and should do now, that will help ease their transition into the workforce after graduation. No matter what direction or educational level your high school or college student is headed there are a couple things you should know about why and how some young people entering the workforce have an easier time than others.
Having spent many years as a recruiter and career coach, it was clear that some career seeking candidates succeeded better than others in obtaining interviews and employment opportunities. The successful candidates had unique and identifiable characteristics, a well-established network, experiences, and stories that attracted recruiters and business owners to connect with them.
While many students believe that they are the one doing all the selling, it is important to know that recruiters have a job to do and often times have quotas to fill by attracting the right candidates. Recruiters are therefore trained to go out and find the right candidates. If a student has done their career-readiness homework throughout their years in school by engaging in the right kinds of activities, networking with the right people, and developing a marketable resume, they will reap the rewards of having recruiters knocking on their doors. They will have more career opportunities to choose from, while their less-prepared counterparts will be struggling to catch up.
Starting with the basics, here are five tips to help your student get on the right path to career- readiness:
1. Be consistent with the right activities.
Is your student an athlete, musician, philanthropist, or working throughout the school year? Recruiters pay special attention to students who have committed themselves to something worthwhile. Candidates successful in obtaining interview opportunities and offers from employers typically have a strong story to tell about their dedication and commitment to a particular goal or set of goals. Consistency is key – doing something once just to get a bullet point on a resume isn’t a winning strategy. However, the student that has been playing baseball or softball and managed to play competitively while maintaining their grades is something quite commendable. Maybe your student isn’t an athlete, and that’s okay too! There are plenty of activities such as volunteering with a charity, getting involved in student government, and tutoring younger students that will all be favorably looked upon when it is appropriately highlighted in their resume. Consistency in activities will also build strong personal and professional relationships that may become important to leverage in the future.
Some students felt embarrassed in the interview process to admit that they worked a menial job throughout the school year to help support their family or pay their own tuition. They didn’t have the time or ability to participate in sports or traditional student activities. Conversely, recruiters are trained to pay very close attention to these candidates because work ethic and sacrifice are two very honorable and worthwhile traits to have in a young adult entering the workforce.
2. Start networking sooner than later.
Students that have strong relationships with their teachers, professors, coaches, advisers, and business professionals always have an easier time getting an interview, earning referrals, and gaining references than those that do not have established networks. Social media networks are equally as important; however it can work for them as much as it can work against them!
If your student has Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any social media account – be sure to speak with them about privacy settings. Many young adults downplay the appropriateness of what they post about and to what audiences the materials are made available. Maintaining a professional online public image from an early age is crucial because recruiters are trained to dig deep.
Starting a LinkedIn profile is strongly advisable once a student has graduated high school. LinkedIn is professional social media site that will help a student keep track of items to include in a resume, as well as allow them the opportunity to connect and keep in touch with important people they meet along the way. Recruiters will not discriminate against a lengthy LinkedIn profile as they would a lengthy paper resume. LinkedIn profiles for career-seeking candidates have already started to replace paper resumes for many companies who prefer this medium for finding their next hire. A well-developed LinkedIn profile is a great way to showcase all accomplishments and experiences, and connect with existing business professionals to gain access to other people within their networks.
3. Discuss plans for the future.
As our CEO at AEPG Wealth Strategies, Steven W. Kaye always says, “Most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” The same holds true for students. It is imperative to have a goal and a plan to succeed. Your student may change game plans several times along the way, and it is to be expected as they continue to learn who they are, what they are passionate about, and discover their strengths and weaknesses. Being a pillar of support and guidance for your student along this challenging path is incredibly important to their development as a young adult. Encourage your student to explore career opportunities that are of interest to them. Perhaps have them shadow or speak with a friend or associate that does what interests them for a living.
If there is a clear passion and goal in place, discuss with them the importance of acquiring an internship in this specific field. Internship experience is important in the hiring process because a recruiter will be aware that a student has already been pre-exposed to a career path and gained experience in the corporate setting. College students, who have no internships and no work experience, especially during the summer months, will be looked at less favorably. The last thing a recruiter wants to hear is that a student had no responsibilities, was playing video games, or partying the entire summer.
4. Educate your student on finance basics.
You may already know that most educational institutions do not teach or require financial literacy as a requirement for graduation. When obtaining employment, many companies require a background and credit check before making an offer to a potential candidate. It is therefore important that your student understands the basics of financial literacy prior to graduation when they will then be flooded by offers from credit card companies and other budgeting challenges such as student loans, car loans, rent, and managing living expenses. A potential employer will not hesitate to ask questions regarding a candidate’s preparedness to take on an opportunity that would require them to live away from home. Don’t forget you have great resources at AEPG Wealth Strategies our financial advisers are always available to answer questions you or your student may have and provide recommendations most appropriate to help you educate your young adult on these important life skills.
5. Get to work on that resume!
During the high school years, a basic resume will help a student keep track of all of the important activities they may want to reference for future career opportunities. Having a master resume’ is especially useful to have available when it comes time to customize resumes for specific career opportunities. A master resume should include EVERYTHING a student has accomplished since high school including all kinds of work experience such as baby sitting, lifeguarding, credentials or certifications such as CPR, and awards or accomplishments, such as earning varsity letters. The rule of thumb for paper resumes is that there should be no more than one page for every 10 years’ worth of work experience. It is far easier to cherry pick information from a master resume than trying to recall everything from memory. Again, starting a LinkedIn profile is tremendously helpful because it is an electronic version of a master resume that recruiters do not discriminate against in terms of having too much information. It is also a great way to supplement paper resumes because it can include important information that a student may not be able to fit on a one page resume!
In conclusion, taking the time today help and encourage your student to focus on professional development and career readiness will drastically reduce the pressure and stress when the time comes for them to enter the workforce. The pool of qualified candidates continues to grow larger as more students are attending and graduating; successful candidates will need to differentiate themselves from the pack!
Please remember that as a courtesy to AEPG clients, we are happy to assist you and your student in helping to prepare for the next steps in life. Perhaps you need advice on how to pay for college, or maybe your student would like to practice their interviewing skills. Whatever your needs are, please do not hesitate to contact Christine Lapidow, Client Relations Manager at 908-821-9796 or via e-mail at CLapidow@aepg.com.