Q: My son is 23, he has a good degree, but he has never had a proper job. He has applied for a few things, but I think he is not doing enough really. He just seems to sit around all day playing games and watching television. I have stopped trying to cajole him because we just end up arguing. What can I do? (NS, email)
A: You describe a familiar scenario. We get a huge number of enquiries from parents who face the same anxieties as you do. You want to do what’s best for your son, but you are struggling to make any inroads.
Even thought I don’t know your son, I would still like to take the leap of faith of cutting him some slack. Many young people are confused at the moment: they hear all the negative commentary about the economy, and, quite often, they simply don’t have the skills or the life experience to turbo-boost their own job-searching campaign.
Many fail to realise that you should – and can – push much harder than just dropping a CV into a few recruitment agencies. Many fail to realise that employers like to meet enthusiastic and hungry young people who say things like “just give me a chance and I will prove my worth to you.” fail to realise that referrals and word of mouth are a powerful way of obtaining jobs. They haven’t been around this course before, so, in many instances, they simply don’t know.
In our experience, a great number of young people feel that job-searching is solely a formal process, and they don’t understand that there is always room for a more creative approach.
The problem is that they may not listen to you. It’s not because you’re an ageing fossil: it’s because you’re a parent.
But they might listen to someone else – for example, they might listen to David Wogan. First of all, he’s a peer of your son’s. He’s techie. He’s innovative. Search YouTube for ‘HubSpot: One Question” and see what he has to say – actually, technically speaking, he doesn’t say anything in that video, but he has produced a very sharp hire-me video.
I have been in touch with him and while he hasn’t yet landed the job he’s looking for, he is making inroads. Can your son do anything like that? A project of that nature might rejuvenate him, and also alert him to the fact that there are countless ways of approaching the job-searching conundrum than just putting the CV in the post or email.
This week’s top tip
It might sound like we’re splitting hairs, but, when you’re job-searching, you never know where or when the employer might ‘land’ to form their early impressions.
An employer told me recently about ringing a prospective candidate after receiving their CV.
“It went straight to voice-mail, which is fair enough,” said the employer, “but the voice-mail was a disaster. The person was almost whispering at the other end. My job involved sales, and I didn’t get any sense from that few seconds that she had the drive to put herself out there. I may have been absolutely wrong, but that was the impression I got. I didn’t leave an answer, and didn’t contact them again.”
That voice mail with Pat Shortt’s voice might be fun among your friends. And we’re not against fun. But if you’re on the prowl for work, it might be no harm considering a more formal, professional voice mail.
Sli Nua Careers work with clients to produce innovative job-searching strategies. They have offices in Dublin, Galway and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. You can also obtain their free eBook providing Job Searching Tips by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with Job Searching eBook in the subject line.