Parent of a recent grad? How to help them adapt in the workplace.

grad student staring out window

As a parent, you always want to see your child succeed. From helping them recite multiplication tables to quizzing them on SAT vocabulary, you’ve been there every step of the way to support and encourage them to excel in the next phase of their educational journey. But what most parents don’t realize is that the transition from college to career is one that requires just as much support as those previous milestones.

You see, today we’re dealing with a workforce skills gap. What that means is that while a degree is an achievement deserving of celebration and a necessary driver towards career success, schools aren’t necessarily teaching the “soft skills” that are critical in the modern workplace. A soft skill is defined as critical thinking ability, creative problem solving, interpersonal communication, the aptitude to manage complex situations, and more. This lack of soft skills is causing issues for not only employers, but also new grads.

The Impact of the Skills Gap

When surveyed, over half of employers have said it is difficult to find qualified new graduates that have these soft skills. This has led to an overall issue with hiring, as 75% of HR professionals have found it difficult to hire qualified candidates due to the aforementioned skills gap.

But it’s not just employers struggling to find new talent. Students and young professionals are feeling the impact of this skills gap as well. Harvard Business Review surveyed recent grads and the words they used to describe their transition to the workplace were “exhausted, lost, and anxious.” They’re realizing they’re not going to get that immediate feedback they’re used to, their manager isn’t always going to be their mentor, and teams aren’t always going to be made up of friends. They’re playing by different rules they haven’t been prepped for.

Regardless of whether your child has received their degree, they may not possess the life skills needed to excel in the workplace or get hired during this tumultuous time in the world; it’s as simple as that. While they may be too proud to ask you for help, as a parent there are things you can do to help them with this tricky life transition proactively, rather than reactively.

Easing the Transition

The transition from college to career is not black and white, and this is something most students aren’t prepared to manage. They’re used to the cookie cutter process of studying, getting good grades, and moving on to the next level. But the professional workplace isn’t so cut and dry. They’ll need to deal with interpersonal situations like working with a manager, how to approach a performance review and self-analyze afterwards, and how to accept difficult feedback and implement it.

This is where you as a parent can step in and assist. Here are some standard personality traits and life skills that can help them adapt to this new phase in life and accept it with grace, rather than frustration:

  • Grit – the relentless desire to succeed and push forward despite adversity.
  • Resiliency – the ability to recover quickly from a setback or perceived negative feedback.
  • Realism – the awareness that real-life isn’t as perfect or simple as it is portrayed in books or movies.
  • Self-Determination – the onus to take development and learning into their own hands rather than relying on those around them.
  • Curiosity – the interest in learning new skills and trying new things that will ultimately lead to success.
  • Modesty – the realization that they will always have something to learn from others.

With these skills, they’ll be able to adapt more easily and teach themselves those soft skills throughout their academic days and as they navigate their first job. While these skills and traits are essential, it’s important as parents to remember that you’re not alone and you can make a difference. There are so many resources out there that can help your child adopt these traits for a more seamless real-world transition.

Solutions to Level Up

As parents who entered the workforce years ago, it’s important to realize that while your advice holds great merit, your experience as a young professional was so different from your child’s. We are living in a vastly different world with a corporate landscape that changes almost daily. The most important thing you can do is listen. Listen to what their pain points are, listen to the situations they’re struggling with, and help guide them to a solution.

It can be difficult to know how to help them gain the valuable soft skills they need to succeed, but that is where companies like ours come in. At NimblyWise, our goal is to ease the skills gap and help young professionals learn what university may not have taught them. Utilizing one-on-one coaching, valuable self-assessments that lead to greater self-awareness, group coaching, and more, we can help them master the skills that will put them ahead of their peers in today’s workforce.

It isn’t all on you as a parent. Empower your child to take the next step in their personal and professional development; they will thank you!