Our Young Adult Children Are Home Again – How We Can Teach Them To Find Jobs

I’ve read that we boomers are the last holdouts in the 20th century lifestyle, one that emphasized leaving the nest, making our way, getting married, and supporting ourselves through retirement. It’s what we were supposed to do, and we figured that our fruit wouldn’t fall far from the tree.

But a curious change has happened within our progeny. Stealthily, an evolutionary shift crept into their DNA, erasing their drive to do what we’ve done. They’ve thrown us a left hook: they’re back home, sleeping in their old beds at 23, 30, or beyond.

Young adult at homeWhy they would want to be back home again baffles us. Why aren’t they out working, creating lives separate from us, like WE did? WE started working at 15 or 16, flipping burgers, pumping gas, or running a manual cash register at the quick mart, and never stopped. Working signified our freedom.

Many of us parents are boomers, and our starting pay was $1.00 per hour, yet it fueled our dreams for independence and adventure. It bought our first cars, hand-me-down 1965 Tempests or Cutlasses from our parents; or better yet, a well-worn Continental with “suicide” doors. We accepted almost-scrapped “beaters,” but they were our ticket to better things.

After high school, we packed up our motley cars to hit the road and never looked back. There was college, working, marrying in our 20s, buying homes, having our 1.2 children, and accumulating microwaves, slimline phones, and answering machines. It was good.

Then, one day, something happened to our boomer brains while admiring our babies. Let’s come clean. We decided to spoil them rotten. And so, “Millennials,” “Gen Xs” and “Gen Ys” were raised. These young adults who now inhabit our sofas, smart phones in one hand, a tablet in the other, and if they’re lucky, a third hand on the remote, are our children grown up. Ask them why they want to live with us, and they’ll respond incredulously, like one Millennial who told me, “Why should we pay rent when we can live back home?”

To 32% of them, “living at home” is just another way of living. They aspire not to buy homes or cars, but to ownership of wearable tech. “Home” is at mom and dad’s. Cars they can now rent by the hour.

Taking care of adult kids again is so huge that AARP now runs continual articles about it.  Ameriprise now publishes “how-to” manuals for supporting children who move back in.

Many of these young adults are college grads who are vying for jobs. We boomers used to jump back into our used cars and go where the jobs were. Now we’re writing resumes for adult kids at home. “You want to give them everything,” says a girlfriend of mine who has two 20-somethings under her roof. “It’s difficult to watch them do without.” Seriously? Somehow, even jobless, they’ve managed to amass every electronic gadget invented, but have yet to write anything on a piece of paper.

Tiffany Adair, a Millennial who teaches Power Connection’s Generational Career Coaching, is focused on walking young adults through job hunting techniques and etiquette. “This is something many of us have never learned,” she says. “Most of us have never even sent a paper letter to anyone. Technology is our way of communicating, but job hunting requires human connection. Human connection wins job search.”

If we don’t want our young adult children to be on the sofa for good, we MUST help them acquire job search skills and the ability to connect with adult job providers in a communicative, person-to-person way. They need to know how to groom themselves and dress for job search. They need to know how to create a helpful network of working adults. They need to know how to “pound the turf.”

You want them off the sofa and on their own? Teach them these critical skills.

Why Personal Branding Is So Important

It’s no surprise that today’s markets are still very competitive amongst job seekers.  In order to get noticed, and not left behind, a competitive personal  brand needs to be developed.  This brand gives you the advantage you deserve in your career search.  Your specific brand solidifies the recognition of valid distinction and helps you cultivate the image you portray to your target audience.  Separating yourself from the competition is a good thing because it makes you memorable. Your brand is your reputation, your first impression to others, and an example of the expectations you have set for yourself from here on out! It is truly that important.

So how do you capture and promote your individual strengths to a specific audience? First of all, you need to take a look inward and see what it is about YOU that is worth branding! Grant it, this is not an easy thing to do, but knowing who you are and what you stand for will become effective when communicating during a networking event or interviewing with a potentially new boss.  When you are able to effortlessly self-promote, you increase your visibility and awareness, and doors to a variety of job opportunities open that fit your personal brand.

You need to develop this brand purposely. Your brand promotes your best self, not who you hope to be one day.  Once you have established your brand, you can use it as the foundation to give your resume a bit of personality, and to stay consistent with your images on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Your brand will also attract other followers, and these followers should be identifiable as your brand followers.  Mastering the ability to sell your personal brand in cyberspace is important in today’s technology-driven world, and equally important is knowing your image also exists offline.  It will be noticed in person by the behaviors you display, the way you present yourself, your body language, and your personal appearance.  If you want to be treated like a professional, look and act like one!

If you think a personal brand only helps you, think again. Potential employers want their employees to fit the mold of the company’s brand.  By promoting your personal brand, you also are promoting the brand of the company with whom you are seeking employment.  Staying relevant to the market and the latest forward thinking not only benefits you, but it also makes the company look good, too! Brands advertise who we are, what we stand for, and where we have set our sights.

I hope by now you realize the importance of your personal brand! Here are a few parting words of wisdom:  When you develop your online biography, make sure it includes your vision, goals, and passions.  Once developed, you can use this biography to help script your elevator speech, redefine the beginning of your resume, and strengthen your profile on LinkedIn! Hence the reason why you MUST be certain your brand matches your personality.  You don’t want a potential employer calling your bluff! By being consistent and authentic with your brand, you allow a true version of yourself to emerge wherever you are and whenever you are promoting yourself. Finally, remember that as you grow and evolve professionally, your brand will also grow and evolve.

Generation X and Y: Who are we, exactly?

If you’re like me, you are not really sure where you fall in the generational name calling.  Baby Boomers know who they are and will proudly tell you, “I’m a Baby Boomer!”  But for the younger age group, we don’t put a name on our generation, even though our elders are trying to categorize us in some form or fashion.

I did a little bit of research and here’s what I learned about “my people.”

Bristow, Castleberry, and Cochran classify Generation X as individuals born between 1965 and 1980.  We were the products of workaholic parents who often came home to an empty house.  Did you wear your house key as a necklace like me?!? Latchkey kids could be trusted to be home alone since our parents were always working.  Because of this, we raised ourselves.  Mac’n’cheese and hot dogs for dinner? You bet!  We know how to be self-reliant and original, but we didn’t want our future children to grow-up without a family unit.  Therefore, it’s very important to us that we strive for a balance between work and family.  We find it difficult to network because we remember what life was like before cell phones and social media.  We do embrace change because we bared witness to Watergate, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the beginning of the first Gulf War.

But what about those Gen Xers that were born in the early part of the 1980s like myself? I see traits from both categories present in my overall demeanor.

According to Bristow, Castleberry, and Cochran, Generation Y was born 1981-2000.  We (since I think I’m both an X and a Y) were raised during economic growth and technology progress.  I totally remember seeing a computer for the first time and thinking it was the coolest thing ever!  We are literate in various trades, cultured, and one of the most ethnically diverse generations in US history.  We focus on practical results and our individual income is less important than community involvement.  Having a balanced life of work and play is important, but on most occasions, the scale tips a little heavier towards play.  We believe we can do anything, be anything, and we are all superstars.  Thus we have high self-confidence and have set high standards for how we should be viewed by others.  We don’t believe strongly in big-business institutions because we have seen them fail more than they have succeeded. We witnessed the birth of the Internet and the tragedies of 9-11.  We know life is short and thus want instant gratification.

So, where do you fit in? Do you see a bit of yourself in each of the categories? If so, welcome to adulthood (GASP!)…. But for the time being, let’s call ourselves Young Adults. We are NO WHERE near the age of the Baby Boomers!

Age is a State of Mind

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a very long time, and want us to be honest with each other. I believe that if you’re in the market for a job, and you’re 50 or so, you need to think about what “age” you project to others. This topic has many layers of discussion, and I want to address one here that has to do with “first impressions,” i.e., how you look when you walk in the door of an interviewer’s office.

I read the blogs, discussions, and columns on LinkedIn, career sites, and numerous publications, and I know many of you are offended at the suggestion that we plant ourselves in front of the mirror and take a physical inventory of “how we look” when job hunting. I see it more as “how we come across:” our energy, our vitality, and our willingness to keep up with the times. And, men, this is not just for women. When you’re in job search, you need an updated haircut, wardrobe and pair of glasses as well.

It can seem inappropriate and insulting to suggest that looking “younger” can be advantageous when we are actively seeking a new job. But, I will go on record with my opinion about how necessary it is for us to come across as having as much youthful energy as possible when we are competing in the hunt. It’s particularly true if we are unemployed and in transition, since unfortunately, that alone puts many of us at a disadvantage in the job market.

“Isn’t the only important quality a person takes with them to an interview their capabilities and experience?” we can insist. Sure, if you’ve been blessed with great genes, a love of exercise, and you look 42!

I’m not suggesting that you don the attire of a 20-something year old, and tug at your miniskirt when you get out of the car; or adopt the posture of “pants on the ground.” I am, however, encouraging you to see that age is indeed a state of mind, and if you begin to think more youthfully, your exterior appearance will undoubtedly begin to look more youthful as well.

Take a moment right now to look in the mirror. What “age” do you see looking back at you? And I don’t just mean physically. There is so much more to vitality. Do you see a spark of energy? Do you see a constant interest in self-improvement and new things? Do you see someone who makes an effort each day to look as healthy as he or she possibly can? We are all different, and your vitality factor is relative to your past health and life experience.

The point is, once you honestly assess your physical appearance and your ability to alter it in a positive way, you will know just how youthfully you can realistically come across, and that, my friends, is your “aha” moment. “Youthful” does not mean ridiculous. It means being able to enter the competitive job market with a statement about your interest in being a contender.