A friend of mine recently sent me the link to Patrick Erwin’s article on CareerBuilder entitled Helicopter Parents on the Job Search. In the article, Mr. Erwin describes a new phenomena emerging in the job search marketplace – parents intimately involved in their Generation Y / Millennial Generation offspring’s job search. And he goes on to say some companies are even beginning to cater to this craziness.
I’ll get to the parents in a moment, but first I have to say, if a company is going to entertain and embrace this insanity, then they get what they deserve – a workforce in need of more handholding, affirmation and general attention than ever before. Self-reliant employees build and grow a company; insecure workers, in constant need of reinforcement do nothing but suck profits from the bottom line. ‘Nuff said.
On to the parental situation … I have no problem with Mom or Dad forwarding job posting links to junior or their little princess or role playing for interviewing or helping with company research or any one of a thousand background activities related to the search, (Erwin gives great suggestions at the end of the article). But when it comes to making contact with the company – interviewing, following-up, negotiating salary or relocation packages – that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the applicant AND NO ONE ELSE.
In the article there’s a story about a mom following up on a job posting because her son is tooooo busy to place a call and conduct his own job search. Give me a break. As a former hiring authority, if mommy had called me about her darling son, her darling son’s rez would be in the shredder faster than he or she could blink. If her son’s time management skills are no better than to have mom call and ask for a job, then I have serious doubts about his capability to operate under pressures, meet sensitive timelines or manage projects. (Although, it does speak well of his delegation skills ….)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not a parent, but I do have grown stepchildren. I have helped them with job searches in the past. I’ve spruced up their resumes, provided interview prep information, answered questions about search and interview strategies, even passed on unadvertised job leads when I heard about them. However, at no time, no matter how dire the employment straights, did it ever occur to me to pick up the phone and call a prospective employer regarding employment for any of them.
When I supervised departments, I told my employees, unless you’re in a coma, I expect you to call in sick – not your spouse, not your roommate, not your dad – YOU. Your coworkers, covering for you while you’re out or I might have questions. It’s not unreasonable to expect to spend five minutes ensuring proper coverage. I regret you feel badly, but we’ve got customers to serve and a company to run. It’s your job. Own it.
A parent’s job is to bring up responsible adults, adults able to support themselves and make positive contributions to society. Conducting a job search, following up with employers and generally wiping their noses for them is not helping them. It’s not building confidence and further perpetuates the entitlement attitude so prevalent in society today.
On one of my resume writer group’s e-list, a colleague commented on working with a Helicopter Parent and her child. This writer shared she wasn’t sure the child even had a voice. Every question the rez writer asked was answered by mom or mom corrected, clarified and added to the response her darling daughter gave. How can this young adult be prepared to face the world, much less an interview with mom running interference for her every step of the way? If you never fail, how do you ever learn?
The School of Hard Knocks is the best teacher. The tests are painful, but the lessons dramatic and memorable. If mom and dad don’t let their child attend that school, how will their children ever stand on their own two feet, be confident, be powerful, be secure in their own skin?
Parents: It’s fine to help. It is not fine to do – PERIOD. Return to the heliport now.