Looking for a Job? Don’t Get Your Parents Involved…

April 13, 2012

Middle America Graduates-49

Recently, I’ve noticed articles popping up detailing how parents are getting involved with their grad’s job search. In college, there is a lot of talk of graduating and entering the “real world,” however, it seems there is a new reality emerging, one where parents continue to, well, parent, even through adulthood. On particularly great article, “How Parents Can Help Their Kids Get A Job After College” by Susan Adams, chronicles some overbearing parent horror stories and some great advice for parents. But what about the students? What can you do?

If your parents are clawing to get involved in your job search, chances they are very supportive of you and believe in the skills and work ethic you’d bring to any workplace. This is a great thing! This is your job search – it’s up to you to help channel that energy into the appropriate amount of parental involvement. By managing your parents and their expectations and making the most of their help, while conducting your own job search, you can skip past the overbearing parts and get the end result everyone is looking for with the help of mom and dad.

1. DO use your parents connections. DON’T let your parents dominate the relationship.

Networking is a huge part of job searching. As you enter the professional world, this may seem intimidating or even unfair, but after time you’ll realize how valuable your connections are. Since your parents have been working for many more years that you have (at roughly zero post-graduation…), they’ve had time to make connections, move up in the ranks, and watch their friends and acquaintances move up at varied companies. If you parents can introduce you to someone at your dream company or in your dream field, take the opportunity – but ask that their involvement stop there. Take it upon yourself to forge the relationship, setting up informational interviews and seeking their advice on your own. This will reflect well on you, and make you look like an impressive candidate if you take charge of the process and not hide behind Mom and Dad.  Letting your parents speak for you is risky, they may not understand what you are truly looking for and want from a position nor what you will bring to a job.

2. DO listen to your parents wisdom, experience and take it to heart. DON’T let them choose a career path for you.

Many times, your parents do know what’s best for you. They’ve had many years of experience to see how the world works, what opportunities are good opportunities and what matters to build a life like the ones they lead. Any attempts to sway you, motivate you, push or prod you, come from this perspective and a desire to help you do your best and get the best for yourself. They want that for you.

However, only you know what will be a fulfilling career for you, what will become a fulfilling opportunity or when you want to head back to school. Barring laziness or fear, you should presumably have a better grip on what it is you are looking for than your parents. Don’t let them tell you what to do. Figure it out for yourself. If that means you rely on them for their wisdom as you sift through different career ideas and opportunities, so be it. They’ll be thrilled you want to get them involved. Don’t shut your parents out if they push you – help them understand where you are coming from, and ask them to direct their concern to more productive questions to help you figure out where you want to go.

3. DO get your parents help with the logistics. DON’T let them handle those things for you.

If you need help with a cover letter or prepping for an interview, perhaps your parents can give you help. Navigating your first job offer and negotiating your first salary are both difficult, new and intimidating to do the first time around, so seek your parents advice and savvy when making these first steps. Make clear you don’t want them making any phone calls to a potential employer, accompanying you on any interviews, or making any negotiations on your behalf. Yes, you may struggle through these processes and they may want to protect you, but if you fear over-involvement, make sure you clearly establish boundaries and let your parents know you want to take this one on yourself. You don’t want to lose a job on account of parental meddling!

Your parents can be a great asset while you look for a job, but too much and they could hinder the process. With their valuable support and a clear idea of what you want for yourself, you’ll be ready for a great opportunity. Best of luck!

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