(MoneyWatch) Empty nesters who thought their college graduates were gone for good could be in for a big surprise. Roughly 28 percent of adult millennials -- those born in 1982 and after -- are likely to move back in with Mom and Dad because of problems finding a decent job, according to a study released today that was jointly sponsored by PayScale and Millennial Branding.
"Millennials are getting married later, having kids later and are far more likely to move back in with their parents than any other generation," says Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding in New York. "It's all economic."
However, for parents who've already strained their finances putting the kids through school, there are economic challenges to having boomerang kids, too. The good news is that parents are this generation's top role models and mentors, says Schawbel. That means you can do a lot to help your graduate get started on an independent life.
What should you do?
Share your network
Only about one quarter of college students set up a professional profile on LinkedIn and begin actively networking for a job, says Schawbel. That puts them at a disadvantage when competing with job applicants from better connected generations. But parents can help by sharing their personal and professional contacts and making suggestions about which of these contacts might be best suited to aid your graduate. If these contacts need a heads-up to give your graduate the right reception, certainly contact them first. But let the graduate do the work.
Some kids are self-motivated and don't need a parent pushing them to complete resumes or get out the door for interviews. Others need more...let's call it "inspiration." If your graduate lacks motivation, consider setting hours that are dedicated to work. Whether it's doing chores around the house, or preparing resumes and applications, it's smart to get your graduate in the habit of getting up and putting in an eight-hour day. Chances are good that if your grad only has two choices -- work for you for free, or work for someone else for pay -- they'll end up with a paying job in no time.
Encourage work - any work
Some kids are tempted to forego part-time work while applying for full-time professional jobs, but great opportunities can happen by chance when working at Starbucks or bartending at the local restaurant, says Schawbel. Any job that gets graduates into the public eye gives them a chance to make a good impression. Moreover, it gives them income to start a savings account that will, someday, help pay a deposit on an apartment. Naturally, it's important to continue applying for full-time jobs, even while holding down that part-time position. But, in today's market, where the right job might take months or even years to get, paying work provides experience, fills out a resume and gets your graduate off the couch.
If your graduate has a job, but no expenses, it can be easy to get into bad spending habits, such as spending a healthy portion of his or her income on eating out and buying consumer goods. Help your graduate learn the realities of the real world by encouraging him or her to save the amount that they're not spending on rent, food and utilities for the future. This is like putting training wheels on a bike. It gets the child into the good habit of spending less than they earn before they have real and unavoidable expenses that might otherwise push them into debt. Better yet, their growing savings accounts will serve as emergency funds later, which may help them avoid moving back home again if they lose a future job.