Some overbearing parents call job recruiters and even attend interviews with their kids.
Some parents make it their job to help their kids land a job.
And recruiters and hiring managers are getting fed up: “We had a candidate come to us … who was a college graduate with a few years of experience. He showed up on time, and was very well-prepared for his interview, and we were ready to move him further into the process — when his mother called to check in on the status of his application,” Andreea Boier, chief talent officer at Kairos Ventures, told Moneyish.
After advocating for her son by telling the recruiter what a “good boy” he was — and that she still packs a lunch for her son — Boier said the mom began to push for an offer, and even asked when her son’s employment would begin. He didn’t get the job. “This kind of intervention was very poorly received,” said Boier.
This isn’t an isolated incident. According to a survey of more than 600 senior managers by OfficeTeam, hiring managers have seen everything — from a parent who asked if she could do the interview for her child because he was going to be out of town, to one who tried to demand a higher salary for his son. And a study by Michigan State University revealed that 23% of companies said parents were involved “sometimes to very often” during the hiring process of college seniors. Of those parents, 4% attended job interviews with their kids, while 26% promoted their son or daughter for the position — and 15% complained when their offspring didn’t get the position.
And hiring managers have had enough: More than one in three (35%) senior managers said they find it annoying when helicopter parents are involved in their kids’ search for work, according to OfficeTeam. “Sometimes, well-intentioned parents go a bit too far, micromanaging homework assignments or interfering in their children’s interpersonal relationships. Parents who get too involved in their children’s lives, to a point where it borders on controlling, are called ‘helicopter parents,’ and may hinder their teen’s or young adult’s ability to trust their own judgement and perform in a work setting,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says.
It’s happening during every step of the job hunt. Resume writer and job search coach Lauren Milligan told Moneyish that parents write resumes and cover letters for their kids, too. “I was working with a young man to create a new resume, and asked him to complete a thorough worksheet — but as soon as I received it, it was obvious that his father, who I’d previously worked with, had written it,” she said. When she called for a follow-up, the boy’s father answered the phone and said that he was familiar enough with his son’s academics and internships that he could handle the call on his behalf. “When I discussed the father’s interference with the son, he told me both of his parents did the same with his teachers and professors, and most of his friends’ parents did the same,” Milligan shared.
And some parents actually go behind their kids’ backs to involve a professional in the process. Sarah Johnston, a career coach and founder of the Briefcase Coach in Columbus, Ohio, told Moneyish that, “I have a number of parents reach out to me regarding their 20-something-year-old children who are unemployed or underemployed.” But she warns that this can backfire. “Parental over-involvement could show that the candidate is not seriously interested in the role. When a candidate does not personally advocate for themselves, it gives the appearance that this person does not care,” she said. “Before taking clients on, I always do a call with the child to make sure that they actually want to work with me.”
Of course, it’s normal to want to help your child out, but how far is too far? “As long as everyone is on the same page and willing to listen to each other, parents can and should help their kids with resume writing and proofreading, mock interviews and even introductions to people in the parents’ network,” said Milligan.
And there are other ways that you can help your kids land a job — without putting their job prospects at risk, says Challenger.
Advertise your kid’s job search to your own network. Networking is often the best way to find a job. “Let your contacts know your child is looking for work, but let your child advocate their abilities for themselves,” said Challenger.
Offer to read their resume and cover letter. Milligan believes parents should be involved in this process to an extent, but says kids and parents don’t always work effectively together when it comes to job decisions and job search coaching because emotions and values tend to get in the way. “When that happens, it’s best to bring in an objective person, such as a coach,” she said.
Send open positions. Avoid applying for jobs on behalf of your child. Instead, find open positions and send them the listings so that they can follow-up on their own.
Bring in outside help. “Parents can give their kids the best advice, but if the kid is no longer listening, the advice is wasted or not followed,” said Milligan. When Milligan inserts herself, she says she can give the kid the exact same advice as the parent but because she has a different relationship, she gets a different outcome.
Let them vent. “Looking for jobs is stressful and time consuming. Acknowledge that and allow them to share their frustrations during this process. Offer advice, but limit unhelpful or unconstructive criticism,” said Challenger.
Let them fail. Challenger said, “Recruiters receive on average anywhere from 100 to 250 resumes per open position. A job seeker is not going to get an offer for every job for which they apply. Failure is an important teacher, especially when it comes to the job search.”
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