The Dos and Don'ts of Helping the New Grad in Your Life Find a Job

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

My sister is graduating from college this month, and since I’ve been out in the working world for a few decades already, I want to help her as much as I can. She told me she wants to go into entertainment PR. I’ve worked at a lot of TV networks, although it’s been a while since then, and I do still have some good contacts in the field. I feel a bit like the Winter Warlock in Santa Claus Is Coming to Town; I may not have all my magical powers anymore, but I still have a few handfuls of magic feed corn in my pockets. And I’m going to use them to help her.

But then I read this article that says there are limits to the powers of my magic feed corn and what I’m allowed to do with it, and since I don’t want to make things worse for her, I’m reading up. Here are the dos and don’ts for how to help, and how not to help, the grad in your life who’s ready to step out into the working world.

DON’T ask for a job for them.

Well, that I knew. I don’t expect people to hire her just because she’s my sister, even though she is fabulously talented and brilliant and wonderful to be around. I know what it takes to hire a new person, and how offering up someone who can just “grab coffee and make copies” isn’t a particularly enticing appeal. I won’t be asking anyone to hire her just because she’s available (and fabulously talented and brilliant).

DO ask where they can look for a job.

It seems just as presumptuous, to me, but now that I’ve been given the green light, maybe I’ll go for it.

DON’T ask your contact for a lengthy meeting with your grad.

Well, they say not to ask for an hour or two. I wouldn’t ask anyone for an hour or two! But half an hour to talk about your career with someone who thinks you’ve “made it” is not really a terrible thing. I used to do this for people all the time, when I had that kind of job. It made me feel good to do something nice for people, and it was an ego boost, too.

DO ask your contact if you can pass on their email address.

See now, I think that’s worse! It seems like a longer-term commitment. A meeting has a beginning and an ending, while an email correspondence can go on into infinity.

DON’T ask someone to do a resume review.

I have to agree with this one, and mostly because nobody is really that good at resumes anyway.

DO ask for industry-specific tips for resumes that your grad might not know about.

I think I’ll leave that to my sister, once I hit my former colleagues up for that half hour I’m not supposed to ask for. I’m not her parent, and even if I were, it feels a little helicopter-y to be back-seat driving her resume through another person.

Here’s the bottom line: If you can help your new grad—and they deserve it—do it. I plan to reach out to some people I used to work with, talk up my sister, and ask them if they can just give her an overview on the industry and make some suggestions for the types of activities or opportunities she should pursue. I can keep it within reason, and that should be your takeaway: If you wouldn’t do the same for a stranger, or possibly for multiple strangers, then don’t ask someone else to do it either.

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