A friend's frustration at her son's job search boiled over one day. He had graduated from college six months ago--good grades, outstanding language skills--but still had no interview nibbles. She had been pushing him to apply for this, apply for that--even called friends for leads. He didn't seem to appreciate her "helicopter" style help. Nor had it produced anything. "I wish," she said, "I could just pay someone to hire him for the year."
That was three years ago, in the heat of the Great Recession. (As this NextAve story suggests, others wanted to go or went further than my friend's wishful thinking.) Are things better in the job market now? Are we better at keeping our distance? Do our kids want our help or not?
A recent survey by Adecco suggests that job-hunt-wise, things are looking up: 65 percent of employed youths (18-24) found jobs within six months; of those unemployed and still looking, only 6 percent said the search had been going on for a year or more. That's progress.
As to whether they want our help (helicopter-style or otherwise), 62 percent say they keep their parents at arms length during the job search. The 38 percent who do welcome a little help from home want us to use our network to find them job opportunities. Also on the list of the kinds of help they like from their parents: rehearsing them for interviews (12 percent) and checking over their resumes (9 percent). There were even a few--4 percent--who wanted their parents to go to their job interviews with them, but to wait outside. One can only wonder at the job prospects of job applicants (1 percent) who want their parents to be part of the live interview.
On her blog Grown and Flown, Lisa Heffernan looks at some of the same stats and comes up with an 8-point list of "acceptable" things a parent can do to help a child during this first big job search--things like proofreading resumes and correspondence, brainstorming, researching opportunities and passing on to them connections they might use.
As for my friend's son, a neighbor and friend finally produced a lead for a one-year contract for a data-entry job. He got the job (in the neighbor's agency) and performed so well that the contract was extended and his duties expanded, until he eventually left for graduate school. Job well done--by both of them.