Are Parents Getting Too Involved in Their Kid's Job Search?

job searchYou've heard of "helicopter parents" and pageant moms who get so involved in their children's business -- from science fair projects and book reports to college applications -- that the work is no longer the child's and everyone develops major issues. Well, according to a new survey, in this warped economy, this type of hovering is extending into the job search as well.

For the OfficeTeam survey, researchers interviewed executives about the most unusual or surprising behavior they had heard of or witnessed from the parent of a job seeker. Their responses include:

  • "One parent wanted to sit in during the interview."
  • "A mother submitted her daughter's resume on her behalf."
  • "Someone stopped an employer at a grocery store to ask that person to hire her child."
  • "A parent called to ask about a job applicant's work schedule and salary."
  • "A parent called during the interview to try to push me to hire her daughter."
  • "I received a call from a father asking about the status of his son's application."
  • "A parent came by my desk and told me that he expected his daughter to get preference for a position since he was a manager at the company."
  • "A mother called to ask how her child did in the job interview."
  • "A parent called to find out why we did not hire her son and why we felt he was not qualified."

If you are a parent who has done any of these things, or if you're tempted to ask your parents for this kind of help, stop it. Now.

"Although most parents mean well, those who become overly involved in a child's job search can derail their son or daughter's prospects of being hired because companies may question the applicant's level of independence and maturity," said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. "New graduates should steer their parents away from direct contact with potential employers and toward behind-the-scenes guidance and networking assistance."

OfficeTeam came up with five ways for parents to actually help, rather than hinder, their child's job search:

1. Branch out. Networking is still one of the best ways to find a job. A parent's friends and colleagues can help set up introductory meetings with employers and alert you to opportunities.

2. Give it another look. Parents can review resumes and cover letters. They can spot typos and other errors and make sure that the most valuable information is included.

3. Do a test run. Parents can help conduct mock interviews to practice responses to common questions. They can give constructive feedback on answers and delivery.

4. Help weigh options. Parents are invaluable as a sounding board about potential opportunities. They can provide a different perspective and bring up points to consider in the decision.

5. Give encouragement. Looking for a job can be difficult, and it's important to remain positive. Parental advice and support throughout the process can help keep spirits up, and keep the job seeker on track.

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Similarly, I was looking to hire a qualified technical writer once and I got a call from a guy's wife. She turned out to be a public relations manager for a company and one of the slickest talkers I'd ever come across. She said her husband was out of town, but that he was a tech writer and that he'd be perfect for the job. She talked him up so effectively that I sucked right into what she had to say. I wasn't getting any other apps from qualified people so I interviewed him and hired him. Oh ugh, what a lazy b-----d he turned out to be. Always outside smoking cigarettes and taking delight in not following direction. Silly me.

May 27 2011 at 1:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Well they don't say how young these "kids" are - are we talking 20s and up or teens because if its teens give me a break the parents should be involved since they may have to help out with transportation and ensure that the school schedule isn't interrupted.

May 27 2011 at 1:04 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
lively wife

How about the parent who called me while her son was visiting and said he wouldn't be at work the next monday (this was the friday before) because the "weather report said there may be snow, and I don't want him driving in the snow"...this was for a 22 year old! Needless to say, when he arrived (on the Tuesday), I let him go, and told him why. It is NOT a good idea to have your mother call you in, no matter what the circumstances. Now, if he'd been in the hospital it would have been one thing...

On the other hand, my 16 year old is one of the only young people I know that can go thru an entire application process on his own from start to finish, whether it's for school, or work, or a grant application. There aren't may parents of today's teens that can say that.

May 27 2011 at 1:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

If the parent simply does some of the legwork, it is as if that parent is serving as a secretary. most executives have people to do tasks like type , screen calls, fax stuff, email on their behalf. As long as the parent does not go to the interview with them , there's nothing wrong with it. It's like saying the email is interfering because it saves time over US MAIL.

May 27 2011 at 12:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dina's comment

If the kid is over 18, he should learn to do it himself. My sister was 31 and as her sister, I had practically conduct her life because she could never get a job on her own. I had to write the resume, find her the job, and then take her to the interview. You can't do that and I told her to get it together which she never did.

May 27 2011 at 1:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

i often get interview tips from my mom whenever i go on a job interview... the problem is that she has not been on an interview for more than 20 years... I know she means well, but that is definetly not her area of expertise...

May 27 2011 at 12:42 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

i wonder how many parents still wipe their kids when they are done in the bathroom at these ages.

May 27 2011 at 10:15 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

At some point we have to let the young ones out of the nest and let them try their wings. I know its a temptation to want to rescue your child, no matter how old, but it's part of good parenting not to do that, however.

May 27 2011 at 8:49 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kitsmom1990's comment

That may actually be a motivating factor for some parents. My 24 year old son lost his job a few months ago and had to move back home. I'm really having to watch myself, to keep from trying to do it for him. Don't misunderstand, I adore him, but his moving home has been hard on my husband and I too. It's not just the child that looks forward to growing up and having a little freedom!

May 27 2011 at 9:46 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kyblueyz67's comment

I second that on the child/children moving out. We love our daughter more than life itself and she us, but her and I were talking one day and agreed if she ever moved back home we would, not literally, kill each other. We love doing things together, her and her guy comming over or out for dinner etc.... but she has been on her own for almost 4 years and has her routine and we have ours and they are not even remotly compatable. And I trust her to be smart enough to get a job on her own. I can't believe parents behave like that!

May 27 2011 at 12:48 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down

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