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VOL. 43 | NO. 17 | Friday, April 26, 2019

Not seen, not heard: Job search must be parent-free process

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I run into many questions surrounding parents. And, I’m not talking about the parents of young children. I’m talking about the parents of full-grown adults.

Both the parents and the children don’t seem to know where the boundaries are in the job-search world.

A similar issue was magnified for us in the media with the college-entrance scandal. It’s shocking to learn the great lengths parents are going to in order to set up Olivia Jade with a perfect life, isn’t it?

I’ll share my two cents on this issue.

Parents should have a very small part in their adult child’s job search. To the outside world, the parents should be invisible.

If I’m a hiring manager, I should have no awareness of the parents. Parents will very likely not even come up in conversation during a job interview. It’s like parents aren’t even part of the equation.

Why is this? Well, if I’m the hiring manager, I’m looking to hire an adult. I want to hire a fully formed adult human who can come to my business and make good choices – on their own.

I want to be able to trust this adult child with my business. If I am even remotely aware there might be a parent involved in the process, I will not consider the child.

If a parent is involved, I am unclear whether that child is competent. I’m unclear how independent the child is. I’m not sure how much hand-holding I’m going to have to do with the child.

That said, parents mean well. And, they’re often helpful in a job search. But when are they helpful in the job search?

A parent is helpful when they answer questions from the child. The parent is helpful if they help proofread a resume, when the child asks. A parent is helpful when they give the child tips, when they ask.

There are two common themes here:

• The child should ask for help. The parent is advising the child directly. They’re on the sidelines. They’re not seen by anyone but the child.

• The parent should not be contacting any employer directly. They should not attend a job interview with the child (even if they’re just waiting in the lobby). A parent should not look up the future employer on LinkedIn.

The minute an employer gets a whiff of this, they’re out. The employer will never tell you this to your face because they’re too polite. But they’re thinking it. And, they’re talking about it with other people.

If you are the child of a parent who is trying to help you in this way, it’s time to step up. I know this is a tough conversation to have. If you care about your career, it’s time to have a serious conversation.

Nobody can do it but you.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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