Tips to Help Your Kid Find a Job
Provide advice when it’s requested, and encourage independence.
As we saw with 2019's college admissions scandal, some parents get carried away (even to the point of committing felonies!) in the name of trying to set their kids up for success. And in some cases, the parental meddling includes intervening into their children's early careers as well.
The phenomenon is related to what a New York Times article dubbed “snowplow parenting,” which the authors described as mom and dad trying to clear all obstacles in their child’s path so they don’t have to encounter failure, frustration, or lost opportunities.
“When I worked in corporate recruiting, my friends who worked in campus recruiting on a daily basis said candidates didn't call to accept or reject their offer—their parents did!” says Vicki Salemi, Monster’s career expert. But that’s not all. “I’ve heard of parents accompanying their kids to their job interview,” she says. And sometimes, parents are the ones negotiating with employers, too.
As a parent, you want your child to have access to the best opportunities, and there are things you can and should be doing to help prepare them. But going above and beyond for them can backfire.
Unlike with college admissions, where some level of parental involvement is acceptable, there’s really no gray area when it comes to the world of work: “The kid should be driving the job search process, interview, negotiation, and acceptance,” Salemi says.
While overly intrusive parents aren’t exactly a new thing, the ability to have instant communication might be what’s driving parents to be even more over-involved in their children's job search today, says Janet Ehl, Bentley University’s executive director of career services. “Compare this to my experience in the 80s, living in a dorm, with one payphone in the hallway to call your parents,” she says. “Students had to figure out a lot more on their own in between weekly phone calls.”
That being said, Salemi recommends that parents back off when it comes to their children looking for jobs and internships. “It’s fine to provide guidance, but not do the actual work like applying to a job or internship on a kid’s behalf,” she says. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little nudge to keep their internship and job search in motion, she adds, but micromanaging to the point where the parent is the one pulling the reigns is not a healthy way to start a career.
What Parents Should (and Shouldn’t) Do
There is a healthy medium between actually dialing in to a phone screening interview for your child and totally letting your kid fly solo with no input. First, you have to recognize that they're young adults now and not the little kid who needed your help just a few, short years ago. Second, find healthy ways to assist them with their job search and career development. Here are five ways you can be part of your child's job search without taking complete control.
Guide Them Through the Hiring Process
“It’s OK to run your kid through a mock interview to ensure they know how to confidently speak about their experiences,” says Laurie Hollister, associate director of career services at the New York Institute of Technology. You should also be available to help your child review the details of a job offer, such as salary, benefits, 401K, etc., she adds, since that’s not something they will have seen before.
Where to draw the line: Don’t make employment decisions on behalf of your child or pressure them into something they don’t want to do. You might think a job offer is perfect, but they're the ones who have to do the workday in and day out. “Let them get their feet wet with a job of their choice,” says Hollister.
Set a Good Example
Sharing positive stories about your own work experience and illustrating a solid work ethic and working hard is one of the best things you can do for your child, says Salemi. Also helpful is encouraging your teen to work summers so they can develop basic skills like being responsible, taking directions, working with the public, and more.
Where to draw the line: Don’t make it about you, says Salemi. Whether it’s an unfulfilled dream of yours or you wanted your child to follow in your footsteps or pursue a particular path, you can’t get hung up on what you want for them. “Look at your own situation and remove yourself from it,” says Salemi. “It's your child’s life and career; they are not your mini-me.”
Push Them Toward Career Exploration
Encourage them to attend the numerous workshops held on campus by career services, activities by student affairs, and speakers brought in by faculty. “Each of these experiences adds to their knowledge base and rapidly growing internal checklist of what does, or does not, excite them,” says Ehl.
Where to draw the line: Don’t do the work for them. “There’s so much information out there, especially online and through professional organizations,” says Salemi, “your kid should be encouraged to do as much research as possible to make their own choices.”
Let Them Fight Their Own Battles
Now more than ever, especially with the latest generation being digital natives, soft skills will need more nurturing and cultivating, says Salemi. Ehl agrees, adding that letting your young adult self-advocate is the best thing you can do.
“Let them go and see the teacher about the grade they disagree with; talk to the coach who cut them from the team about what skills they could work on to give it another try next year; write their own speech in an authentic way to run for class office,” says Ehl. “Learning to have these difficult conversations will be necessary both at college and on the job.”
Where to draw the line: It bears repeating: It’s never OK to speak with a potential employer on your child’s behalf, says Hollister.
The idea of parenting is to give your kids wings so they can fly, says Salemi. Being a snowplow parent can end up alienating potential employers, not to mention that doing everything for your children is actually doing them a disservice.
Think about it the way a prospective employer would, says Salemi: If the parent does all the groundwork setting up the job, will the young adult be able to actually succeed once they’re working?
Hook Them Up
There’s nothing wrong with letting your network know that your recent college grad is in the market for a job, or making an introduction for an informational interview. “If you already have your own strong social media profile, review your connections with [your kid] to see if there’s someone who can be a source of information for them,” suggests Ehl.
Another way you might help is to request that your employer or someone you know in a particular field allow your child to shadow for a day, just to see the inner workings of the profession.
Where to draw the line: Don’t “get the job” for them. Even if you have an “in” somewhere, once you make the introduction, step back and let your student manage it from there, says Ehl. And certainly don’t do anything unethical, like recommend that your child pad their resume with false information.
Let Monster Help Them Out
There are plenty of resources available on Monster that are a few clicks away. Want to get started? Encourage your kid to join Monster for free so they can get career advice and job search tips sent right to their inbox. It’s a quick and easy way you can help them prepare for the job search while also maintaining good boundaries.