Working Strategies: How young adults can help parents find a job
Feb 10, 2013 (Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Do you need more evidence that our world of work is becoming completely topsy-turvy Here's mine: I have now begun fielding calls from grown children seeking career help for their unemployed parents.
It's not uncommon, of course, for parents to seek help for their kids, with the younger worker often being a struggling 20-something or a recent graduate trying to launch a career.
Indeed, I frequently see the children -- and sometimes the grandchildren -- of clients whose job searches I worked on two decades ago. It's a privilege, for sure, but also a bit unsettling.
Now a new generational wrinkle is presenting itself with 30-somethings calling to seek advice about their elders. As Americans continue the trend of working into their 70s, it may become common for adult children to help parents navigate the return path to employment.
Admittedly, if you are the adult child in question, you might find the situation a bit tricky. Depending on family dynamics, offering help could feel intrusive. And sometimes your ideas won't work as well if you and your parents live in different states. Even so, there's likely to be something you can offer an unemployed parent in terms of a helping hand. Here are tips to get you started.
1. Don't assume the answer is digital. If your parents need to strengthen computer skills or build their comfort with online processes, that's an important issue on its own. But saying that the jobs are only online or implying one needs to be a
digital wizard to be eligible for work is not only incorrect, but extremely demotivating. Your folks may be more computer-literate than you realize. Many in their generation have been using computers for decades.
2. Pinpoint computer issues they may be having. If your parents do lack computer skills or have not been exposed to such networking tools as LinkedIn and Twitter, helping them accelerate their learning would be a service.
3. Ensure they have an updated resume. You might help create this document. Otherwise, steer them to a service, workbook or online tutorial.
4. Ensure they have a job search or career plan. Regardless of age or work history, the most critical step is to have a plan. Without this job target, seekers of any age are relegated to a wait-and-see process of replying to ads. If your unemployed parent does not have a plan, now is the time to enlist help from a career service or counselor.
5. Be a networking contact. Even if you work in different fields, forwarding your parent's resume to friends or colleagues, or bringing your parent to networking events will help in several ways. They may benefit directly from the new contacts, but they also will reignite their networking processes and push their own comfort zones -- both of which are essential for successful job search.
6. Help update their look. If you don't have the skill to evaluate your mother's wardrobe, or the nerve to confront your father about his scraggly sideburns, find someone who does. Without honest feedback, your folks could be consigned to unwitting age bias from looking outdated.
7. Keep your eyes open for part-time jobs, potential consulting opportunities and other stop-gaps that will help your unemployed parent both financially and psychologically.
8. Email or call regularly to check on the search. The trick is to convey your support without sounding like a nag. You also should watch for signs of depression or emotional distress so that you can increase your level of support or find others to help.
9. Guard your parents' finances as you would your own. Request a temporary no-gift policy, treat them to dinner sometimes instead of assuming the opposite and otherwise ease the emotional burden they may be feeling over not buying extras for their kids or grandkids.
10. Respect their decisions. Your parent may decide to change careers, sell the family home, seek more training, retire early, or do something else you would not have envisioned.
If you have a view to offer, do so and clam up. And as much as possible, remember that age really is just a number. Don't let ageism define your response to your parents' plans and try to help them avoid the same pitfall if you can.
Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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