The Happy Family

Prevent Your Parents From Playing a Shocking & Embarrassing Role in Your Job Search

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So, your mom and dad have been super involved in your life, pretty much since inception. Now, you’re off to enter the “real world” and they still want to tag along. Having parental support — during the daunting task of job searching — is highly encouraged and usually just fine. However, when mom, dad or both want to be players on the field, versus coaching from the sidelines, things can get hairy.

Certainly there are ways they can assist you — here are an acceptable few:

  • Give you guidance (and their opinions) on career paths, jobs and industries
  • Conduct online job searches and forward interesting positions to you to consider
  • Proofread your resume and cover letter (not write it for you, just proofread it)
  • Take you shopping — and possibly pay — for a suit to wear to your interviews
  • Act as an interviewer, ask typical interview questions and provide feedback on your answers
  • Help you understand company benefits and job offers
  • Be there to share in your excitement
  • Support you during times of disappointment

But — and it’s a big but — there are some things your parents just shouldn’t do when it comes to YOUR job search. Doing any of these will not help your job situation. With many years in the recruiting biz, I’m speaking from experience here. By all means, do not let your folks commit these acts of helicopter-parenting:

  • Attend job fairs on your behalf and hand out your resume to prospective companies (you need to be there, in the flesh, networking, learning and asking questions)
  • Sit in the waiting room, chatting it up with the receptionist, whilst you interview with company executives
  • Be present in the interviewing room with you while you talk with the hiring manager
  • Post messages on company’s Facebook pages asking for more information for you
  • Follow up with HR representatives on the status of your application
  • Email the recruiter a nasty-gram asking why you were not selected for the position

Your parents should be a sounding board, resource and advocate for you — but ask them to keep it off line and in the family. Tell them that you respect their experience and want their input, but that when it comes to actually communicating with companies, you’re in charge!

Mom and dad are just trying to help. Their intentions are probably genuine. But, allowing them to have a leading role in your job search sends the wrong message to companies. HR could start to wonder if you’re really interested in the job. And that would not benefit you in any way. Companies want to hire you — not your parents, unless of course, mom or dad is looking for a job and happens to be qualified for another position within the company.

Shannon is currently the human resources social media lead for a major U.S. auto insurer, and has more than 12 years of HR, recruiting and college relations experience. Outside of work, she’s a busy mom raising two awesome girls. She enjoys reading, yoga, traveling and her morning coffee. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter. Special thanks to Jill Stover for her guidance and input on this article. 

11 comments

  1. Catherine DiGennaro

    Sharon,

    Hopefully recent grads & 20 somethings will take this advice to heart. I have had Moms call/email about resumes/applications/status for their children. The funny thing is that often I never hear from the child just the parent! My Mom bought my first suit and Coach bag when I started working but that was it. Everything else was earned and frankly I think more valuable than it being given to me.

  2. Oh, we’ve had parents do much worse than that. Including calling us up and screeching for counseling their kid on what career options are available to them. Or, calling in and sending resumes for them. Or demanding to be on conference call during the interview. These guys need to learn to back off and let their kids take care of it LOL.

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