The graduation ceremonies will soon begin. The obligatory commencement speeches will be patiently tolerated until the caps can finally fly. The post-college celebrations will commence.
And then, from the mouths of many of those graduates, comes the call that has become all-too-commonplace in today’s economy:
“Mom, I’m home!”
As our newest college graduates look for work, they do so knowing that many have predicted that the Class of 2014 will fare much better than graduates of the recent past. NACE, for example, has said that employers intend to increase hiring of graduates by 7.8% in 2014.
Yet many of those who have fulfilled the first half of a dream that began as they entered college 4+ years ago – the dream where earning a diploma was the golden ticket that guaranteed entrance to the workforce – have no choice: They’re going to move back home with their parents. And while there’s no doubt most parents will accept their kids back home, it is less than an ideal situation for the recent grads – or mom and dad.
However, compared to the alternatives, including being under-employed and barely scraping a living in an unfulfilling position or going to graduate school just to avoid looking for work, moving back home is not an untenable situation.
So how do you make the most of the move back home? What are the keys to making a short-term set-back pay off for your career? Follow these guidelines for success when moving back home!
Consider Moving Home an Investment in Your Career
Very few would choose moving back home, if given the choice. Now that you’ve made the decision, get over it. No victim statements, no bitching to your friends on Facebook, and certainly no beating yourself up.
By moving back in with your parents, you’ve chosen to make another investment in your future – period. It isn’t a vacation. It isn’t “some time to think about my future”. In fact, it is the perfect time to begin your future, by further preparing for your career. When you think about this time as a constructive period in your life – instead of “poor me” – you’ll instantly become more productive.
Be a Good Roomie
Perhaps at the dorm or the big house with four roommates, it was possible to be a slob. Not here. Think it is okay because your Mom always helped pick up after you, did your laundry, and wiped your… nose?
Moving home is not a continuation of your previous parent-child relationship. It is a necessary step, tolerated by consenting adults willing to sacrifice privacy and independence. No, I’m not talking about you – I’m talking about your parents.
Here’s a tip that works every time: Suck-up, without saying a word. Unload the dishwasher. Shovel the driveway. Mow the lawn. Cook three meals each week (and put the iPhone down while you eat the meal). Bring home groceries whenever possible. Pay a share of the utility bills. Help in some meaningful way, without being asked. Your parents will appreciate the self-less help, and will look upon the entire situation in a much different light.
Never Stop Looking
Want to permanently derail your relationship with your new roommates? Stop looking for work. Sleep in every day while their daily routine carries on. Stop showering and shaving, just because “you have no place to go.”
One more tip: settling for submitting applications to jobs you found on Monster does NOT constitute a job search. Join in-person networking groups and career-related Twitter chats. Be active – and do it in an apparent way. A good example: “My son is always on that damn computer” becomes “he was on a Twitter chat looking for work, for the fourth time this week.” Big difference – but only if you communicate what you’re doing, as you do it.
Never Stop Learning
Your parents were perfectly willing to invest in your education, right? So, keep learning.
There are many ways to continue expanding your education – in the real world. Take an internship, or two. Volunteer in your community. Take an extra college course at the local school. Job shadow, or set up informational interviews.
It is when we stagnate, that we lose the respect of those around us. And any reduction in respect after you’ve moved home could mean a highly stressful, unproductive environment.
Never Stop Dreaming
When you went off to school, you had a plan – a dream. While it is easy to fall into the “unemployed” hole that is being dug around you – and even though you may have found a shovel in your own hands – there is no reason to stop dreaming now (even though it may currently be happening from your old room).
Keep looking to your future, and how you’ll get there. In the process, set realistic expectations. Maybe, for now, your dream job is slightly out of reach. Take another job, preferably within your chosen career path. Rather than seeing that job as settling for something less than you’d hoped, or as a detour from your dreams, use it as a stepping stone that gets you that much closer to achieving your long-term goals.
Moving back home isn’t the end of world. In the ultra-competitive job market we’ve seen in the past six or seven years, it isn’t even uncommon.
Get a good return on your investment, and that of your parents, by making the most of this time back home. Remember what this felt like. Thirty years from when your child says, “Mom, I’m home” after graduation – you’ll be able to pass on some good advice.