Q. I’m dreading the long weekend with my parents since it will be no-stop questions about my so-far unsuccessful job search. Other than staying in my room or hiding out at friends, how can I explain to them why it’s taking so long to land a job? -CE
A. Take the offensive. Give them roles in your job search. Although I have previously criticized helicopter parents, the current job market provides an opportunity to properly engage them in job searches.
Heather Huhman posts some of the best advice I’ve seen on how to calm parental frustrations with job searches. She also calls our attention to a recent interview with executive recruiters John Salveson and Sally Stetson of the Salveson Stetson Group, on how to “get off the family payroll and into a job”.
Here are Heather’s 10 tips and other links that will help your weekend conversations with mom and dad:
1. Set weekly goals. All goals included in your plan should be measurable, meaning they should indicate specific actions you will take by certain dates. For example, your first week’s goal might be, “Identify and conduct in-depth research on two to four organizations at which I would like to work by Friday.”
2. Target specific organizations. As included in Step 1’s example, your focus should be on quality, not quantity. Particularly if you live in a small town, I always recommend including more than one geographic location in your search. I know, moving costs money, but cross that bridge when you get there.
3. Take careful notes. This job search plan should be fluid, changing as you expand your search. Under each organization you identified in Step 2, include important bullet points from your research that will be important to remember when applying for a position or meeting with a representative.
4. Boost your online presence. Do you have a professional, industry-focused blog? Are you heavily involved in LinkedIn groups related to your career path? Is your portfolio online? Are your social networking profiles “clean”?
5. Read industry publications and blogs. It’s important to keep up with the news and latest trends in your industry. This will provide great conversation topics as you meet new people.
6. Arrange informational interviews. While your first week should be mainly focused on identifying potential organizations and conducting extensive research, your second week should be spent arranging informational interviews with those organizations. (Read more about the informational interview process here.) Again, include the status of your outreach in your plan to show your folks.
7. Attend at least one networking event each week. It’s important to step away from your computer and get out of the house. There are always networking events taking place. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, your local professional association(s), your alumni association and the countless other resources. And of course, include the dates, times and descriptions in your plan. (Read more advice for attending networking events here.)
8. Don’t skip the job boards. While they are often massive and difficult to determine what’s a real job and what isn’t, don’t dismiss them entirely. I recommend spending approximately one hour each day applying for potential jobs, but no more than that because you do want to stay focused on your target organizations. Keep track of the positions for which you apply using services like JibberJobber or Becomed.com. In your written plan, simply include the position title, organization name and date applied.
9. Follow-up and follow through. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you make a new networking contact, arrange to have breakfast or coffee with them and invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. For your parents, keep brief records of who you met and from what organization.
10. Provide an updated report weekly. At the end of each week, provide your parents with an updated report of your activities. Once they see the tremendous efforts you’re making to land a job, hopefully they will be more understanding and supportive of your situation.