By Kathryn Marion
You’ve heard the term ‘helicopter parent.’ Maybe you’re one of them—parents who hover over their children and actively participate (maybe even orchestrate) every decision and activity their progeny undertake. This works well during the elementary and middle school years. But the strategy needs to change during the high school years and beyond.
If your ‘baby’ just graduated from college, it’s time to cut those apron strings. He or she worked hard on their own and survived their years in college. Now their time in that ‘final playpen’ has ended and life in the real world must begin—on their own. That means they need to be calling the shots for their own life. Sure, you know ‘better’ because of the experiences you’ve had and the struggles you’ve overcome, but your grown child needs to have experiences of their own and conquer their own struggles. Taking an active role in your grad’s life may seem like the loving thing to do—to help smooth the way for them during a rough patch in life—but it can become a hindrance to your child’s career and personal development if it goes too far.
So what is ‘too far’? Throughout the 100+ interviews I conducted as I researched my book for new graduates, counselors and hiring managers alike reiterated the same piece of advice: don’t make contact with potential employers on behalf of your child and, by all means, don’t accompany them to their interview! It’s the career ‘kiss of death.’
With the tremendous number of older, more experienced workers now vying for jobs traditionally sought after only by new college grads, managers who have positions to fill are being overwhelmed with applications and resumes. Hiring managers need to sort through the avalanche quickly to find the most qualified candidates. That means eliminating candidates early so they can spend their time concentrating on the most impressive ones. When a parent calls a target company to inquire about the job application process or to research the company, it’s essentially automatic—their child’s resume is headed straight to the wastebasket. If Mom or Dad (heaven forbid, both) insist on tagging along to the interview, go ahead and count it as good practice in answering interview questions, but don’t count on ever hearing from that company again! Employers are looking for individuals who demonstrate maturity, responsibility, and motivation—having parents in the picture gives the opposite impression of the young candidate.
If you feel you must participate somehow in your child’s job search, take a behind-the-scenes role: introduce your friends and colleagues to your bright rising star; proofread resumes and cover letters; let them practice articulating answers to interview questions; and help them invest in a properly-fitted, professional wardrobe. These few things will do much more to launch your child successfully into the professional world than all the hand-holding you’re tempted to do. They’re grown up now—let them fly!
About The Author
Kathryn Marion is the author of Grads: TAKE CHARGE of Your First Year After College! She coaches new grads and job seekers through important career transitions and tirelessly shares career advice on Twitter daily (@RealSolutions22). Learn more about the book at www.TakeChargeBookSeries.com.