Insights

The Most Asked Question of the Week

Questions, we get questions. "What should I do?" "Who should our company hire?" "How should our company structure this position?"

The most important question of the week is not any of the above. Not surprisingly the question is "How can I help my son or daughter who is a recent college graduate get a job?" One recent report indicates that only 22% of college graduates have secured jobs this year. Although this is not our focus, much of the expertise that we use to recruit outstanding executive management is applicable to your son/daughter's search. The following are a few brief recommendations.

1. The Mind Set. Finding a job is a full time job, especially in these tough times. Merely sending out three or four resumes a day will not suffice. You must act as if you have a job and you have to report to work at 8 am. The job's location can be at a library or home office. The important thing is that you are not distracted by personal phone calls, household activities or friends. This is why the outplacement firms do well-not because they find you a job-but because they instill a discipline of going to an office where you devote eight hours a day to getting a job.

2. Have a good resume. I am always amazed at how many resumes we get that have spelling errors-and this happens with even with senior executives. Ask friends and your parent's friends who are in the workforce for feedback on your resume.

3. Ask yourself these important questions: What do you want to do? What companies offer positions that would allow you to do this? What size company do you want to work for? What industry? What geographical location? Remember that many positions are not advertised and are found by word of mouth.

4. Once you have answered these questions, start researching. Look at business periodicals. I find the Houston Business Journal's Book of Lists is an amazing resource because it lists a number of different types of companies-those that are growing the fastest, pay the most, are the nicest places to work etc. Most other major cities have these books. They are a good investment. Fortune, Forbes, Business Week and local papers also have articles that talk about notable companies.

5. Once you have found companies you would want to work for, write or email them a concise letter along with your resume. In writing the letter, do not address it to "Dear Sir or Madam" or "to head of Human Resources". Do your research and find out the name of the President of the company, the head of human resources or the department in which you would want to work. Always use a middle initial and his or her exact title. That shows that you are detailed and resourceful.

6. The most important part of any job search for a college graduate or anyone looking for a job for that matter: Network, network, network. Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you went to a certain college, get lists of alums that may be working at companies you are interested in. If you are a member of a certain fraternity or sorority, see if you can find alums at those companies. People are usually happy to do a favor for someone they have something in common with. Use sites like LinkedIn to add your own contacts. The more contacts you have, you are connected to the contacts of those contacts. Remember also to return the favor. It is the law of karma....what you give comes back to you again and again.

7. If you are a parent, do not micromanage the process. Be supportive without asking "how many resumes did you send out today?"

In summary, getting a job is a numbers game. Do you have to make ten calls, or ten thousand calls? Assuming it is 10,000 calls, the faster and more disciplined you are, the faster you will get a job.

June 12, 2009
Follow Up to "The Most Asked Question of the Week"
Wrapping up last week's blog by answering a few of the many questions we got to help the children of our clients who are graduating from college and who do not have jobs Thanks so much for your response to our first blog.

Hi, thank you very much for the suggestions you posted last week. They were suggestions that I was able to pass along to my daughter. How can my daughter find a headhunter to help her?

Posted by: Paula Finlay June 11, 2009

First, it is helpful to understand how headhunters are paid. They typically earn a percentage of the first year's salary (usually 20-30%) of the candidate they place. There are not many headhunters that will find a new college graduate a job because the fee would be so low. As one of our bloggers mentioned in an earlier post, graduating engineers can sometimes find a headhunter to help them. But aside from that, I'm not a big fan of using headhunters to find you a job. I think it builds character when someone can go out and determine who they want to work for and try to get an introduction. Secondly, many corporations simply cannot afford to pay fees these days and given the huge number of people competing for the same jobs, they don't have to. Thirdly, if you don't know the headhunter well, you really don't know how he or she is regarded by some companies. Better to represent yourself.


How much should I be willing to help my college graduate in his job search?

Posted by: Matt Conroy, June 11, 2009

Parents can help by looking at a resume and offering suggestions, if asked. In this economy, if the parent has contacts that will open doors, he or she should use them. Just don't fall into the trap of being responsible for all of your child's job leads. People who really do the work to find exciting companies that are hiring, get interviews and eventually jobs, will build a sense of self esteem that is important as one enters the business world. If your child does meet with your professional friends, make sure he or she writes thank you notes.


Loved reading your ideas last week but my son wants to know what else he can do.

Posted by: John Hurwitz, June 11, 2009

1. The government is spending a lot of money now. Search the internet to see if there are entry level jobs there.

2. Take some courses this summer at a local college to beef up your resume. For example, accounting is always good, in addition to marketing and computer science.

3. There are companies in remote parts of the country that are hiring, if you have any wanderlust, apply to them. One that comes to mind is Wal-Mart. Now Bentonville, Arkansas may not satisfy your need for wanderlust, but they are hiring. Some of the large credit card companies have operations in South Dakota.

4. Research the type of company you want to work for...forget saying "I just have to get a job".

5. While you have the time, dare to dream about what would be the perfect company. Go to the library and research. Which are the best companies in Houston, Texas, and the US to work for? Do those companies resonate with you? If so, see if you have contacts there through alums, parents etc.

6. Volunteer a few hours a week. It will make you realize how lucky you are, allow you to meet new people, and provide a beneficial diversion to your job search challenges.


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Jane Howze

Jane S. Howze

Managing Director