You may find this hard to believe-- I did. But there are those among us who are taking a few dubious extra steps in helping our kids find a job. Where we used to assist by fine tuning a resume or buying them interview clothes, a few of us are now marching to the job interview with our kids or even sitting in on that interview.
No wonder Alison Green says that some of us "intervene shamelessly in our children's professional lives." Green, who runs a website called Ask a Manager and Slate's Direct Report,usually sticks to general workplace advice aimed at work-seekers and workers. But she's also had some things to say about the "shameless" stuff.
When it comes to advice, the most common type of parent misstep falls under the umbrella of gumption. It’s the idea that to get a job, you need to impress an employer with your persistence and resourcefulness, often by doing things that in other contexts would be considered aggressive or even creepy.
Green's real-life example: A parent advising a recent college grad to make the rounds of offices and drop off a resume--or even insist on seeing the hiring manager.
Green points out how totally out of date that idea is:
For the record, while the idea of getting a job by “pounding the pavement” remains deeply popular among parents of twenty- and thirty- somethings, it doesn’t work in most fields these days, where employers generally want candidates to apply online and not show up with a résumé without an appointment for an interview.
Green also points to a whole category of bad parental advice "rooted in the sweet but misguided faith that employers will surely be blown away by how impressive their children are." A college adviser told Green that a father, who accompanied his daughter to the meeting with the adviser, accused the adviser of sabotaging his daughter's job search. He thought entry-level positions were beneath his daughter--even though she was 21 with no work or volunteer experience at all--and insisted the daughter apply for mid-level positions because “that shows initiative and drive.”
To Green, the most troubling issue is that some parents haven’t accepted that their adult children can--and should--manage their professional lives themselves. Even when their child lands a job, some parents, she reports, call an employer and ask why their child was not given a promotion or raise or singled out for praise.
These parents are doing their kids no favors. Not every employer will bother to ask, “Does your kid know that you’re calling us?” and instead will assume that the kid knows about and has condoned the parent’s interference … which will get them tagged as immature and out of touch with professional norms at best and difficult at worst.
Green's advice to children caught up in these forms of helicopter-parent advice is to limit how much information they give their parents so that the parents will have fewer opportunities to interfere.
Not exactly what we're aiming for when our kids are going through the grueling job of finding a job.