Adult child loses job - now what?

In keeping with my general “whack-a-mole” theory of life, just when all was going quite well, older son has lost his job. It’s a bit of a complicated situation where his job was actually structured as a fellowship at his university and it is ending June 30 and they have told him it is time to move on - they intend to replace him with a new graduate - and there is no open higher position for him to move into.

Anyway, how best for the parent to handle this? We tried to be very positive on the initial phone call - and told him he is welcome to move back home as needed. His lease expires June 30 as well. DH wants to stay hands off. S1 is almost 24. He can live here but he is on his own as far as the job search. I want to help. I thought I could look for leads for him. But does that imply that I have concerns about his job hunting ability? (Which is true - I do. Staying on at his university was the path of least resistance after graduation). He did not do much of a job search prior to graduation.

For those that have been down this bumpy road - what advice do you have?

Is there any indication that he will have unusual difficulty looking for another job, or has he asked for any assistance?

If not, you may want to keep the helicopter parked.

I think it is okay for you to suggest ways for him to do his job hunt, to give him advice about putting a resume together, helping him use things like linked in and job boards, and also of course having a place for him to stay, but you need to make clear to him that his job at the moment is to find a job. If you can afford it, there are coaches out there who can help someone like your son put together a strategy and go for it.

There are some basic questions he needs to be asking himself, you haven’t said what his field of study was, but does he want to work in that field? Or was he studying something like history, where it may not translate directly into a job. He should be inventorying his skills, and think about the kind of jobs he might want to apply to. I would also recommend while he gets the chance to talk to teachers he was worked with, both to see if they would be willing to give him letters of recommendation, and also maybe to see if they knew of anything. Most schools also have a career counselling center for graduates and alumni, he should check with them, see what they have, they often might have job listings or postings there that he could do.

If the job search drags on, he also shouldn’t be afraid to find work temporarily, in something like retail or the like, maybe temping even, the longer the time from when he leaves the school, the worse the gap may look on a resume.

When my kids have moved back home for a while–between jobs, saving money for something, whatever–I’ve set a limit on how long they can stay without paying rent. 6 months free, then it goes up by $100/month each and every month until they move out. They are also expected to pay all their own expenses, such as cell phone, gas, bike tires, etc. The rules are, for example: call if you’re going past the grocery store, let me know if you’re coming for dinner or not, join me to walk the dog, etc.

As for a job hunt, I think I’d track down resources, point the kid at them, and then back off.

While he’s still at the university, he should avail himself of whatever career planning/placement services they provide.

I have not been down that “bumpy road” but I have been a recruiter for 20 years. First off - the employment market is very good right now. I agree that his job search should mostly be on his own but a couple pieces of advice might not be bad. Is there a good outplacement service in your area? If so, you could suggest that he sign up for some job search classes/counseling. He may even be able to utilize the placement office at his university - I actually would suggest that he make that his first visit - they may have some good advice. Suggest that he get active on LinkedIn - that is really the online avenue that people are finding employment on these days. Good luck.

I have not been down this bumpy road with my kids just yet but you have my sympathy. Your instinct is of course to help as much as possible on the one hand while having him maintain or begin to establish true independence. Are there other jobs he can apply for near the university? He has a little more than 6 weeks to find himself another position. If you have some strong leads you should definitely help him with those. Otherwise see what he comes up with in this short time period and welcome him home otherwise. In some sense, at age 24, it is his bump in the road and not yours!

He should start with the employment office at his university. He’ll want to put together a resume and figure out just what his skills and experience are. My kid (on his second internship - still no real job - though at least the current internship comes with a stipend) found it took a long time before he actually figured out what the cover letter and resume should look like. He got lots of advice, but in the end his girl friends’ advice to stuff it full of more specifics about what his experience consisted of - even if the font was small and the format was ugly was the way to go. He applied for anything he thought he was remotely qualified for and eventually was getting to the third interview stage on a couple of things. He had things set up so that he got emails about jobs from various websites (Monster, Glass Door maybe others), whenever there was a new posting with the right keywords.

Our deal is that we are happy to have him live at home as long as he’s being productive.(Working or looking for work.)

One of the complicating factors is his desire to work in sports. His undergraduate major was finance - but he worked for a sports team all throughout college and had continued working for the team for two years after graduation. His desire is to move up to a higher position at another university in their athletic department. I don’t know how realistic this is - sports mgmt is a ridiculously popular field - way more applicants than jobs.

DH wants to see him use the finance degree we paid for. I think he is still young enough to try to find another sports job before giving up on a dream. We have both strongly suggested he visit the university career center - he responds they will not be able to help him with a sports mgmt position - he is relying on networking and having the coaches he works with now make calls on his behalf to their contacts at other universities.

I know he has a LinkedIn profile and will encourage him to utilize that avenue.

He does have a decent amount of savings - a 12 month emergency fund if he had to pay rent. I like the idea of having him live home for free initially - while covering his personal expenses. He is still on our insurance, so no issue there.

I just feel so bad for him - moving back home to his childhood bedroom! And I feel bad for me too - I was so pleased to have one fully launched - living on his own - completely independent. It’s just so disappointing.

On the flip side, he needs to find a higher level position that pays more. I think this may be a good thing in the long run. At least I hope so.

If he is an aggressive enough saver to have already saved a year’s worth of emergency fund after only 2-3 years since college graduation, he may not actually have a particularly expensive lifestyle, so he may have more options of jobs with respect to pay level, and he is not in the desperate financial situation of needing to take the first job he gets, no matter how poor the fit.

However, he should be realistic about the job prospects in sports management and consider other job possibilities in case he does not get a sports management job. I.e. just like with applying to colleges, he may find that sports management jobs would be “reach”, while some other kinds of jobs may be “match” or “safety” – he may want to figure out which of the latter would be at least acceptable for him in the time being.

I’ve been down this road with daughter who moved to another city for a job, signed a lease, etc., and then, due to circumstances beyond her control, lost the position. Moving back home wasn’t an option (she was halfway across the country) and neither was helping her look for work. (In any case, she was doing plenty of looking on her own.) DH and I ended up paying her full rent for one month, then helping out a bit each month for the following few months, since the new job she found right away paid a lot less than the one she moved for. Once she found supplementary income to make ends meet (by tutoring and babysitting) DH and I stopped helping out. She did that for the remainder of the year – after which she moved to another city to begin grad school. That period of her financial instability wasn’t fun for any of us. But it happens, sometimes in life we need some help, especially when we’re just starting out. I’m grateful I was able to.

I think the lease expiring June 30 is a blessing. Given what he wants to do - he can live at home - and be open to relocating anywhere in the country. And while his income was on the low side, his expenses were much lower, so he did save quite a bit in 2 years.

I do want to send him leads that I see - in fact - I just sent him one. I can’t make him apply for it - it was a financial analyst position at a sports-related firm - but I want him to expand his thinking and not be insistent on another university sports team job.

It’s funny, rockvillemom, I know two young men who got jobs with university sports teams – both of them had to work for at least a year free of charge – a kind of extended unpaid internship; one of the guys had his parents support him for 3 years (!) until he finally found a paying job on the coaching staff of a college team. (The other guy was married, and his wife was willing to support him to help him make his dream a reality.) No wonder those kinds of jobs are hard to come by – if there are people willing to do them unpaid!

I’m sorry that his moving back is so loaded for you, because I don’t think it has to be a bad thing. 24 year-old D is in a similar position, except she quit her job voluntarily after realizing that her path in that job wasn’t going to take her very far. She decided she needed new skills and got some training, and is currently job-hunting on a more rewarding level. Since leaving her job, she moved back home, in order not to burn through her savings. I couldn’t be prouder of her for taking charge of her future and being willing to take a step back when she needed to.

I should add that in our parts, very few recent grads are living in their own places, and when they are, it is often with parent support. With one bedrooms averaging $3000 or so in our city, it makes sense all around for D to live at home for a while. Those who don’t have that option here are jealous she does. It doesn’t fail like failure at all to us. I don’t think you have to be all set up at that age.

Exactly! His salary was on the low side - but there are many willing to work as an unpaid intern just to get their foot in the door. In fsct, one of his ideas is to move from NCAA to the NFL, live at home, and work as an intern - either unpaid or lowly paid for a year for one of our local teams. This does not thrill me.

People lose jobs all the time. It is character building. I don’t think the answer needs to be or should be move back home. I would let him spend few months to look for his dream job then he is going to have to get a job that pays rent.

I lost my job a year ago and I didn’t move back home. If D1 were to lose her job today, I don’t think her first thought would be moving back home. On the other hand, I would advise her on how to get her next job.

@doughmom- thank you. I do think it makes sense for him to move back home so as to not to use his savings. His cost of living was low - under $700/month for a nice 1br apt in a gated community with a pool, but there is no reason for him to stay in that area - he wants to be free to relocate anywhere in the country.

I am disappointed, but hoping this is a temporary setback that leads to better things. DH and I have lost numerous jobs for a variety of reasons - so we are sympathetic. Concerned, but sympathetic.

If unpaid internships are common in the line of work, that itself is an indicator that the prospects for jobs in that line of work are poor. Meaning that he should consider other options. Of course, unpaid internships can be legally questionable in many cases.

I think unpaid internships should be illegal in most cases.

And that’s one of my main concerns - is it realistic that he can move up the ladder into a higher paying job? I get the idea that you start as an unpaid intern or in a low paying position - but then you want to see an upwards trajectory. I want to be supportive - but I also want him to be practical.

I think I am going to continue to email him any leads that I see - not bombard - maybe 1 or 2 a day. DH thinks I am helicoptering - but I don’t see the harm.

I’ve been on this bumpy road almost 3 years ago. Kid #1 was in that major that’s really hard to find job, she did get one that paid 20 hours at $15/hour. The job ended after 6 months. She did odd jobs to pay bills but occasionally I got a dear month email to borrow a few hundreds here and there. She promised to pay it back. She shared and apartment with 2 other roommates. I didn’t pressure her but I didn’t give her lots of money( like her roommates mom) but she eventually found what she liked and ended up supporting herself somehow. Business revenue keeps double up every year and she has hired people on a semi-permanent basis, as she said it, she is a job creator.
So my advice is to leave them be. They are young, even surviving on ramen noodles is not bad. It did wonder to Elon Musk(the Tesla guy) and that’s why he is so successful. He figured he could survived on $30 a month.