Is Your College Senior Prepared for the Job Market?

Did you do a jig when your son or daughter was accepted to college? Excited for their future and yours? Fast forward a few short years, graduation is on the horizon, and you find yourself asking, “What will my soon-to-be college graduate do with his or her degree?” “Is she prepared to face the job market and embark on a fulfilling career?” “Will he be able to support himself or will he boomerang back onto my couch?”

The Accenture Strategy 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study examines the disparity between new graduate expectations and the reality of the working world. While 2015 graduates are confident about their future, nearly half of those who graduated in 2013 and 2014 are underemployed or working in jobs that don’t require a college degree, according to this study.

Although the facts are sobering, there is some good news! Here are some simple things you can do now to help ensure your college senior (or recent grad) is on a productive path to career fulfillment.


1. Start a Dialog: Find out what they have already done to explore post-graduation options. Listen. Be supportive. Find out what roles you could play that would be helpful (as defined by them) on their journey.

2. Consider a Book Club: You and your senior can explore together. Meg Jay’s book “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – And How to Make the Most of Them Now” makes a great first selection. Use other relevant books or TED talks to facilitate dialog.

3. Capture Lessons Learned: After interviews, celebrate successes and embrace opportunities to improve presentation, conversation and preparedness. This facilitates learning, growth and adjustments to finding their unique path.

4. Attend an Informative Seminar: Join me, Kay McBrearty, on Dec. 19 or Jan. 7 for a presentation and discussion about ways to support your 20-something as they prepare to seek employment and a fulfilling career. This information is also applicable to underclassman navigating their college experience in anticipation of senior year.

  • Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, 10:30–11:30 a.m., New Trier Township, 739 Elm St., Winnetka
  • Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, 10:30–11:30 a.m., New Trier Township, 739 Elm St., Winnetka


5. Register at Career Placement Office: While not all placement offices are created equal, find out what resources are available and encourage your child to take advantage of them. Suggest your son or daughter attend networking events and career fairs offered by his or her university and/or local business community; every opportunity to enhance skills and make contacts is worthwhile.

6. Meet With an Advisor: Ask if an advisor from the placement office or an academic advisor is able to offer feedback or direction. Consider external resources as needed.

7. Share Personal Contacts: Leverage your contacts that may be able to assist your young adult, perhaps with an informational interview, mock interview or advice. Ensure your child is prepared prior to contacting your friends or colleagues.

8. Clarify Career Direction: There are many paths up the mountain. Help your young adult explore options that leverage their strengths, values, interests and personality. If they lack self-awareness, suggest utilizing assessment tools or getting guidance from an advisor or career coach.


9. Review Their Resume: In addition to their resume looking professional, ask if it truly represents them and what they want to pursue. They may need assistance creating a compelling resume. Suggest compiling a list of references to share with potential employers, and remind them to give references the courtesy of advance notice.

10. Perfect Their Elevator Pitch: They will need to practice telling their “story” in a concise manner. Suggest practicing with a helpful listener.

11. Discuss Networking: Encourage recent grads to join their alumni association and local clubs in the cities they’d like to work. Suggest they develop a LinkedIn account and a tracking tool to monitor who they’ve talked to and the outcome. Having a tracking tool is invaluable.

12. Assist With Interview Preparation: During academic breaks, find out what they need to prepare for interviews, and confirm that they have begun scheduling them. Do they have a plan for informational interviews? Have they participated in mock interviews? Do they know how to research a company, industry or individual prior to an interview? Have they prepared answers to often-asked interview questions and utilized online resources like Glassdoor to help them anticipate questions?

Now you’re ready to parent your job seeker using this checklist. Good luck for a successful team effort and a fulfilling outcome.

Ready to Collaborate(Ready)Set the Direction(Set)Go Make It Happen(Go!)
  Dialog  Placement Office  Resume
  Book Club  Advisor  Elevator Pitch
  Lessons Learned  Personal Contacts  Networking
  Seminar  Career Direction  Interviews


Kay McBrearty is the founder of Waterville Partners, a career coaching firm whose mission is to guide young adults and individuals motivated to make mid-career transitions through a process of self-discovery, thus enabling them to create a sustainable plan for achieving career fulfillment. Contact Kay at

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