Monday, May 23, 2011

3 Bad Habits That Hurt Job Chances

If you have a child graduating from college this year, chances are good that you may see him or her move back home for a while because he or she hasn't landed a job. Twentysomething Inc. reports that 85 percent of graduates will go back to their parents' home, up from 67 percent in 2006.

You may be frustrated, considering the big bucks you shelled out for your child to get a higher education. You may begin calling contacts to check on job openings, or help your kid write a resume or cover letter.

But much of the job hunt is a waiting game, and you and your child will have to be patient. Still, there are things you can do that will help your son or daughter in the future when that call for an interview does arrive, and it's nothing more difficult than sitting down to a meal or having a conversation.

Here are some ways you can help your son or daughter prepare for that foray into the professional world:

1. Invite old Aunt Edna to dinner. Ask her to rate your child's table manners. Many etiquette lessons seem to fall by the wayside when a child goes to college. You want a stickler for rules to spot the bad manners that could trip up your child in an interview lunch or dinner. I've noticed a lot of girls have developed the bad habit of sitting with their feet tucked under them in a chair, while boys eat hunched over their food like they're at lunch with cell block 14.

2. Tape a conversation. Many college students have developed the habit (as have many adults) of saying "like" too much. "I, like, can't believe, like, the job market is so, like, bad." A study found adult interviewers were more likely to perceive a job candidate as less professional if the person said "like" too much, as compared to "uh." This is a habit that needs to be broken. Like, NOW.

3. Practice in nice clothes. Many college students haven't lived in anything other than jeans, Uggs and sweatshirts since they left home. Now is the time to have them practice wearing nicer clothes. Take your college graduate to a nice restaurant, the opera or anywhere else where people dress up. Guys should know how to handle a tie when they eat (no, you don't flip it over your shoulder), and girls should know how to sit properly and not flash half the town when they get out of a car. No one wants an interviewer distracted because your graduate can't walk in big-people shoes and is chomping gum like a cow chewing its cud.

The key is that your graduate is going to be nervous in an interview, so it's important that many good habits are developed beforehand so they're second nature. If your kid goes to an interview and is trying to remember to sit up straight, not say "like" too much and give pithy answers to tough questions -- well, it's a recipe for disaster.

What are some other good habits college graduates can work on developing?



Scot Herrick said...


A well-thought out piece here. None of these have anything to do with the "work" part of work -- but they have everything to do with interviewing well and transitioning to a team environment on the job.

Like, well done ;)

The other item would be a way to train to get used to eight hours full-on a day. In school, you get breaks. At work, not so much anymore. It's a big transition to going full-bore all day.

Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers said...

Love this post...especially the picture! I attended a conference where the speaker mentioned she was worried young people couldn't put down their smart phones long enough to have a conversation. This isn't specific to Gen Y -- all of us need to remember to focus on the conversation (or interview) at hand. Body language (eye contact/handshake), communication skills (it's not okay to use txt spk in a thank you note)...There is so much to learn!

Anita said...

Thanks for the kind words!
I like the tip about working all day. They may find that the multitasking they do as college students -- checking Facebook, Twitter, downloading music, watching YouTube, checking e-mail -- is not going to work on a job and need to learn to work so that they're productive and efficient.

Anita said...

You're right, there is so much to learn. That's why I think it's important they use all their resources to pick up good habits while they're waiting for a job offer. That's just one less thing to worry about!

tier 1 visa said...

Good to know about your information and that's why I think it's important they use all their resources to pick up good habits while they're waiting for a job offer.
Thanks for post.

Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC said...

So happy to find your blog, Anita, and particularly enjoyed this post.

I would add that "Yes, M'am," "No, M'am," "Thank you," and "Please" can carry a new graduate a long ways.

The other skills that I think all employers look for is collaboration and a little humility.

Anita said...

Thanks, Tamara, for stopping by...and for your helpful comments.

Anita said...

Thanks, Tamara, for stopping by...and for your helpful comments.