studentsCompetition for jobs is fierce, and graduate disillusionment is a growing problem. A masters or further qualification? Fine if it is focused and job relevant, but not so useful and an expensive option if it’s just putting off looking for a job.

Rather than allowing them to wait for their dream career to materialize you will need to encourage any student to be realistic about job and salary expectations. Knowing what kind of job to apply for can be so confusing – but a book called “Dude, Where’s My Career? The Guide for Baffled Graduates” is great for self assessment and career guidance.


Getting an interview is difficult enough, and the whole business of applying for jobs is incredibly frustrating and full of disappointments – a mix of rejections and even worse very often not even the courtesy of a “no thank you”. Keeping enthusiasm and motivation going is really difficult.

Graduates this year are competing against not only fellow graduates but also those from last year who have still not got permanent jobs. A 2.1degree is also becoming a prerequisite to getting through initial selection stages.

Encourage them to use their University Career Service. They will be able to access this after they have left too. Also encourage them to share these sites with their friends at other Universities – tapping into Career Services at other universities will open up different job opportunities.

These sites are also very helpful at telling you to whom the application should be addressed, deadlines by which to do it etc.

Job applications nowadays usually involve an element of verbal reasoning and numerical testing too. is an excellent site for practicing the types of tests and questionnaires used by employers to select candidates.

The Test Partnership has free trials of the following to enable students to familiarise themselves with psychometrics and assessment centres:

• Numerical Reasoning Tests
• Verbal Reasoning Tests
• Error Checking Tests
• Personality Questionnaires
• Situational Judgement Tests
• Leadership Tests
• Competency Tests has all sorts of advice to graduates on careers, work experience, how they can use their degrees and also further study, and whilst aimed at the graduate it is a useful resource for parents to guide their children. Go to the ‘Jobs and Work’ tab and select ‘Applications, CVs and Interviews’ and there is also a section on ‘Interview tests and exercises’. offers applications and resources for companies in every employment sector.  Whether you are an entry-level job hunter looking to start a career or a seasoned professional seeking new opportunities, lets job seekers search for companies by browsing by industry. It features comprehensive sections for retail, fast food, department store, restaurant, and grocery store jobs. Job hunters may also use the search function to find a specific company or job title.

“Parent Motivators : A parent’s guide to helping graduates find work” is a new government guide aimed at helping graduates get a job and flee the nest, also advises parents not to let their children get too comfortable at home.

They say:

“ if you are providing free board and lodging, a well stocked fridge, washing and ironing done, plus an allowance, there’s not much drive there . So cut back to help increase their motivation”  and

“sometimes it is necessary to show tough love”

So in the interests of motivating rather than alienating here is what they suggest:

Motivation Do’s

  • allow them time to relax when they graduate, but don’t let a few weeks turn into months
  • provide emotional support
  • encourage them to set goals and monitor progress
  • arrange a regular update to avoid nagging
  • identify who you know who might be able to help
  • arrange a regular progress update
  • be aware of their mental health, and if there are changes to sleeping or eating patterns consult a doctor

Motivation Don’ts

  • nag, as it will make them feel more stressed and make the failure to get a job worse -there is a lot of competition out there
  • take over – don’t phone up people on their behalf
  • be too supportive – you may need to exercise tough love
  • agree to fund expensive training before considering other options
  • dismiss their ideas, but do encourage them to be realistic in pursuing their ideal job

Living at home

One million 18-24 year olds who are struggling to get a job, or rent somewhere to live, are boomeranging back home out of financial necessity, closely followed, according to recent research, by almost 500,000 of the 35-44 year olds hit by recession, unemployment and failing businesses.

So it may be a case of making the most of your empty nest while you can!

A child moving back home can take a lot of adjustment on both sides – with your son or daughter having to cope with losing their independence and feeling fed up that they have had to come home, and you feeling that your equilibrium has been disrupted by having them back living with you full time, being untidy, lying around watching TV, fridge grazing and wanting to use the car etc. On top of that, they will also be relying on you for emotional support and encouragement.

It’s a good idea to have an up front discussion on ground rules at the start so that you both know where you stand. Yes its their home, but remember you are offering them a rent free / low rent deal, and you are paying the bills. Every family will have their own set of issues, but here are some thoughts.

  • Agree a monthly rent assuming they are working. If they can afford to do so, charge a realistic rent, but if money is an issue for them you may just want a token contribution to cover food and utilities. It will give them a sense of not being beholden to you completely.
  • If you don’t want to charge them rent, then it makes sense to ensure they save what they are not paying you. If you don’t ensure they save it they will probably spend it and so won’t save much ( which after all was the purpose of them living at home), and when they do move out it will be a huge shock to their finances.
  • Washing clothes. Make them do their own, and don’t be tempted to do their ironing!
  • Meals. If they want to do their own cookingthey must clean up after. If you are cooking they need to give you warning of not being in for a meal as you will find it really annoying to plan to cook something for a set number and then end up with wasted food. Maybe you want them to cook a few meals too?
  • Cleaning. It is your house, and you don’t want to see them living in a tip, clothes everywhere, and no effort to hoover. So agree what you want them to do, especially if they are at home and not working.

Being a parent landlord – Investing in a property and renting it to them

  • One option if you have the money is to look into investing in a buy-to-let and renting it to your children. This will be beneficial to both sides. You won’t have your adult children living at home, and they will get a larger place than they could otherwise probably afford, rented from a landlord they know. You will get a tenant you know, who will treat the place with respect.
  • Treat it as a business deal. If they can afford it, charge a sensible market rent to cover the mortgage less 10-15% or whatever a letting agent would charge.
  • Draw up a lease. If there is a spare room then they can be responsible for renting it out, again with a formal lease.
  • If you sell it you may consider giving them a share of the profit – a good way to ensure they look after it.
  • Don’t be tempted to furnish it with all your cast offs – it is unfair as they are paying a realistic rent, so a trip to Ikea will furnish it attractively and not too expensively.
  • As with any landlord, respect their privacy and don’t pop in unannounced!
  • To minimise tax on rental income, you should take professional advice. Holding the property in a wife’s name can be more tax effective if she is in a lower tax bracket. You will still however have the capital gains tax problem when you sell it. An alternative is to buy the property in your child’s name. The rental income he or she receives will be taxed at a lower rate, if they are in the lower tax band. Assuming you do not actually wish to gift the property to your child, the parental investment can be secured by a mortgage from your child to you. If you decide to charge them interest it will be taxable. You need to think about ownership and wills too – do you want to part own it with them ( sharing any profit on sale), gift it to them on your death etc, but a solicitor will advise you on the options.
  • If some rooms are let to others do use a formal shorthold assured tenancy letting document, rather than letting rooms on a casual basis. This will set out rights and responsibilities, and protect you from creating a tenancy that cannot be terminated. Again you should take professional advice.