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Don’t Let Your Parents Ruin Your Job Search


Thirty-eight percent of workers between the ages of 18 and 24 have their parents involved in their job search, according to a recent survey from Adecco. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on the type of involvement — and how visible it is to the employer.

business baby 

(Photo Credit: the UMF/Flickr)

Kevin Mercuri, CEO of Propheta Communications, tells Monster about his worst experience with the helicopter parent of a job applicant.

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“Apparently, his parents felt that we needed to pay a salary that was well-above the market rate. He came back with a counter offer that essentially torpedoed his chances at working with us. We politely rescinded the offer,” says Mercuri. “The next day, I received a call from his mother asking if I would retrieve his resume and allow her to explain why her son was worth the extra money.”

Mercuri eventually had to cut her off in order to end the conversation and get off the phone.

“To this day, I still shudder at what might have been if we allowed this candidate onto our team,” he says.

And therein lies the difference between good parental involvement and bad parental involvement: if your parents do something that makes your prospective employer fear that they’ll be listening to Mom’s opinions on your clients for the whole of your tenure at the company, you are unlikely to receive an offer.

Good Parental Involvement:

1. Sharing connections.

Up to 80 percent of today’s jobs are filled via networking. There’s nothing wrong with your parents facilitating an introduction to a hiring manager or helping you make a connection. But that’s where it should end. If your parents mention calling to follow up on the meeting, gently (or not so gently, if necessary) dissuade them from doing so.

2. Practicing interview techniques.

Ever come out of an interview and think, “Great, if I could just start that from scratch, I’d know exactly what to say?” Practice answering standard interview questions and pitching yourself ahead of time, and you won’t wind up in that spot. Depending on your relationship with your parents, they could be the perfect people to help with this. They likely have long careers behind them, and have your best interests at heart. (On the other hand, if things get weird, don’t be afraid to pull the plug and rehearse with a friend, instead.)

3. Proofreading resumes and cover letters.

If your folks have eagle eyes and can spot a typo at 20 paces, enlist their assistance proofing your CV and application materials. Of course, if you decide to go this route, you’ll have to be gracious when they point out errors — or disagree with you about a minor point of formatting or style.

Bad Parental Involvement:

1. Doing anything that you, the candidate should be doing.

You are the only person who should be contacting HR, writing your resume, cover letter, or thank-you notes, talking with anyone at the company, or attending the interview. If your parents try to horn in on any of these tasks, thank them politely, but don’t allow them to participate.

2. Harassing hiring managers.

There’s such a thing as too much follow-up, and involving your parents definitely tips the situation over the line. To repeat: no one but you should contact HR, the hiring manager, or anyone at the company.

3. Determining your long- or short-term goals.

Even non-helicopter parents have goals for their children. Up to a point, that’s perfectly normal and even reassuring: it’s nice to know that even if no one else cares if you land your dream job, your parents are always in your corner. Just make sure you don’t confuse their dream job with yours. If they start talking about your law school applications when you’ve never wanted to be a lawyer or threaten to call golf buddies at a financial services firm when you’ve been applying solely to non-profits, it’s time to draw a boundary between their priorities and yours.

Tell Us What You Think

Have your parents ever helped you get a job? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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