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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