In my line of work, I run into a lot of questions about parenting — but I’m not talking about the parents of young children. No, I’m dealing with the parents of fully grown adults.
A lot of parents — and a lot of their adult children — don’t seem to know where the boundaries are when it comes to the job search, with many parents getting themselves actively involved in their children’s careers. We saw a similar issue in the recent college admissions scandal. It can be shocking to see the lengths to which some parents will go in order to ensure their children have perfect lives.
Let me share my two cents on this matter. It’s simple, really: If a parent is involved in their adult child’s job search at all, it should be in a very limited capacity. To the outside world, the parents should be invisible. If I’m a hiring manager, I should not be aware of the parents at all. They shouldn’t even be part of the equation, as far as I am concerned.
If I’m the hiring manager, I’m looking to hire an adult. I want to hire a mature professional who can join my company and make good choices on their own. I want to be able to trust this adult professional with my business. If I am even remotely aware the candidate’s parents are involved in their job search, I will not consider that candidate.
Why? Because if a parent is directing their child’s job search, I’m not sure how competent their child is. I’m not sure how independent they are. I’m worried I may have to do a lot of handholding if I hire this candidate. If they can’t find a job without their parents hovering over them, how am I supposed to trust they’ll be successful in this role?
Now, I know that parents mean well, and I’m not saying parents can never be helpful job search resources. The question is: In what ways can they be helpful?
A parent can be helpful by drawing on their own professional experiences to answer their child’s questions and provide guidance the way a mentor would. A parent can be helpful by proofreading their child’s resume — if the child asks.
In short, a parent is most appropriately helpful in the job search when 1.) the child asks for help directly from thew parent and 2.) the parent advises the child from the sidelines. The parent should never be seen by anyone else involved in the hiring process — not by recruiters, not by hiring managers,
Parents should not be contacting any employers directly, and they certainly should not attend job interviews — even if they’re just waiting in the lobby. It may sound funny, but these things definitely have happened!
The minute an employer sees a candidate’s parents are involved in the process, they’re out. The employer may not say as much to the candidate’s face, but they’re thinking it — and they’re telling other people in the industry about it, too.
If you are an adult job seeker whose parents are trying to get a little too involved in your job search, it’s time to step up. I know this can be a tough conversation to have, but if you don’t do it, your job prospects will be seriously damaged.
If you care about your career, it’s time to have a talk. Nobody can set your parents straight but you.
A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at Copeland Coaching.