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Your Parents and Your Job Hunt

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Sometimes you read something and pray it is satire. But you know it is not.

Today it is a story on how parents help their children in finding a job.

When I say “children”, I mean adults. Those in their 20s.

And when I say “help” with the job hunt, I mean … 

Parental Assistance

According to SmartMoney’s “Job Hunting: When Parents Run the Show” [4], today’s parents provide more than just moral support and advice in their adult children’s employment search.

But employers, job counselors and parents themselves say the help they’re offering these days can become a full-blown tactical enterprise, one that includes everything from filling out job applications and combing the want ads to picking up the phone and hounding recruiters who haven’t called back.

some parents even show up at their kid’s job interview.

Of course, some “family experts” think this is a great idea.

some family experts say they’re actually pleased with the trend overall. After all, the idea that every child should cut family ties and forge his or her own career path is a relatively modern notion.

I weep for this planet.

What Some Recruiters Think

Quelle surprise! Recruiters are not enamoured with this approach to getting a job.

And the recruiters make some good points.

In some cases, the parent has no idea how to craft a contemporary resume (Step 1: Drop the “job objective”); in other cases, parents see their grad spending hours on LinkedIn or Facebook and assume their child is wasting time socializing. Another common mistake: pushing a kid to seek old-fashioned job security when it’s smarter to focus on companies that offer growth and training. Even guidance on questions as straightforward as what makes an appropriate interview outfit can get dated fast.

If you are going to get someone to prepare your submission or provide old-fashioned advice, at least find someone who knows the industry in which you seek employment. Also, someone who understands today’s hiring processes and current trends.

Career Coaches

A cottage industry has blossomed in “career coaches”. Professionals who advise job seekers on how best to land that new position.

I am not sure this is necessary – you still need to be you in the interview and a career coach cannot add tangible skills and experience to your life – but it is a step up from having Mom and Dad write your resume. Or hold your hand in the interview.

For those with limited experience job hunting, a professional who can smooth your rough edges might be worth the cost.

My Antiquated View

After climbing down from my horse-drawn buggy, spitting the chaw from my mouth, getting out my ink well, and lighting a candle, I have three unenlightened comments.

Good Hirers Test Job Candidates

Smart managers conduct formal and informal technical proficiency tests on job candidates. I have written about this on previous occasions [5].

In many office functions, written communication is important. Historically, resume and cover letter quality have provided an idea on the candidate’s ability to effectively communicate.

If I believe that someone else has written your job application, then I will test you on writing skills. For example, I may give you a pen, paper, and 15 minutes to write me a one page memo on some reasonable topic. Then I can assess your true communication skills.

And no, Mom cannot email you a sample.

I Want to Hire You, Not Your Family

May I humbly suggest that your parents (spouse, sibling, pet cat, stuffed bear, et al) never come to the interview, call me up, write me about a poor performance evaluation, fill in for you at work, etc.

If they do, you will never get the job. Never. Ever.

Or if already employed, your career will flush faster than a toilet on an airplane.

I cannot guarantee much about job hunts. But I am pretty confident on this point.

Repeat after me. Family involvement is a career limiting move.

Assistance Not Intervention

When applying for a job, get assistance. I am not telling you not to.

Always have a trusted person review your resume and cover letter [6]. By trusted, I do not necessarily mean Mom or Dad. But someone who knows the industry, current hiring processes, business trends, etc. Someone who can provide meaningful feedback.

Perform mock interviews. Have people challenge you on weaknesses in your resume. You do not want sugar-coated “you’re the best” comments, but candid feedback. If you can find someone who knows the business, even better.

Do your own research [7] on the industry, company, position, interviewers, etc. Know what the dress code is, what the social norms are, what exactly you will face on interview day.

Prepare yourself as best you can.

If you believe you are better off by hiring a career coach, that may be something to consider.

But prepare yourself. Do not outsource your application and preparation to parents, siblings, or your pet cat.

You are the person that has to go through the interview. You are the one that must perform the job functions. If you cannot actually do the job, it will be found out soon enough.

That is why many companies have probationary periods for new employees. Hiring mistakes can be rectified. And no, an upset phone call from Mom will not help.

If You Are The Interviewer

One final comment for employers who encounter situations where parents get involved.

Be polite. But firmly explain that this conduct is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

And if parents come to an interview? Here I will make an exception and say please be very nice. Offer them a beverage. My sister-in-law is actually quite a nice lady. And drinks white wine.