Networking With Parents' Connections: Is It a Good Idea?

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Recent graduates and early career seekers don't underestimate the power of networking when it comes to landing an interview making a connection to that dream job. But it's not so much who they know, but who their parents and friends' parents know.

Tapping into a parents' professional circle to land a job or internship is nothing new. However in today's economy, more parents are keeping their connections within arm's reach not just for themselves, but for their children as well.According to the 2014 Adecco Way to Work Survey, 38 percent of the 18- to 24-year-olds interviewed said their parents were involved in their job search process. Among that group, 16 percent said their parents use their personal network to help find them jobs, and five percent said parents forward their resume to their personal network.

Is this where I plead the fifth? With two sons in college, my husband and I have been known to make a connection between our sons and someone in our professional networks. Not so much with the intention to land them jobs-although one connection did lead to an internship-but more for them to receive genuine feedback, advice, guidance, words of caution, and real-life experiences from people in the field they are considering.

Introductions to connections are one thing, but that's where the line should be drawn. Sadly, three percent of the young adults who said their parents are involved in their job search process admit that a parent calls or send emails to perspective employers on their behalf; and 1 percent said a parent sits in on the interview. Yikes! Talk about a sure-fire way not to land a job.

"It's great when parents help their children in the job search," says Diane Lang, a psychotherapist and certified positive psychology coach, "but it can turn into enabling when they become 'helicopter parents' who do the work for their children." Lang says the ultimate responsibility and work has to be on the child. "Encourage your child, but don't write his cover letters and resume. If a child gets a job through their parents without doing any of the work, there will be no sense of personal accomplishment."

Adam Mayer, director of Career Counseling at Montclair State University, said most of the students and alumni he works with are networking with their parents' friends or colleagues. He offers this advice: "Don't talk about yourself too much. You can share your resume, but your main goal should be to learn, so let your contact do the talking." But when it does come time for the interviewee to talk, Mayer says be prepared. "Ask about trends, typical career paths in the profession, and top qualities a person should process. Most people are willing to give advice, share how they have faltered, and things to look out for."

Mayer also warned against asking personal questions regarding salary. "Never ask what someone makes," he said. "Questions about salary seem disingenuous and it's just inelegant as well." I'd say that's good advice no matter in any networking situation, but particularly when it's with a parent's connection.
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