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Young Adults Face Tough Job Market

6 ways parents can give unemployed kids a boost

4. Don't go overboard. Chances are that you've got some contacts that could be valuable to your child as he looks for work. There's no harm in providing names of people you know, but from there you should put the ball in your child's court. Hearing from parents that their grown child wants a job can be a turn-off to a prospective employer. Most would prefer to hire someone who shows the confidence and initiative to phone or email himself or herself. Also encourage your child to utilize his own network. Talk with him about how to approach former bosses, teachers and alumni from his alma mater for help in trying to find a job.

5. Patience, patience. Expensive college tuitions may create an expectation of return on an investment — good-salaried first jobs that will help repay college loans, or fund graduate school or the lease on a first apartment. But patience is the currency of the current downturn. "Parents need to calm down their expectations," advises Don Kjelleren, Director of Career Services at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt.

Keep in mind that there will be false starts and U-turns as well as stretches of silence or unsuccessful interviews while waiting for that first job. Offers that used to take six weeks can now take six months — or longer. So do your best to manage your own anxiety (vent privately to spouse or friends) and don't add your uncertainties to your child's.

6. Be sympathetic, supportive — and stand aside. Looking for a job can be more stressful than working full time, so give your young job-hunter plenty of credit for sending out résumés, making cold calls and pounding the pavement even without immediate results. Here, as everywhere, balance show respect for their growing maturity, and hold your counsel if your emerging adults have made it clear they want to get that first job on their own.

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