Look, job prospects for students and new graduates suck. They truly, truly suck. It’s no surprise that youth are turning to parents – or a sibling or a family friend or a doctor’s cousin’s insurance broker – for help. Asking for a foot in the door does not mean that no hard work is required. It just means that the opportunity to do well and prove oneself is present. Sure, some horrible workers get great jobs because of their powerful parents – that’s the way of the world – but most kids really just want to find some gig from which they can work their way up.
So, getting a little help is not necessarily a bad thing, and since everyone else is helping his or her offspring, it would make sense for a parent to help theirs. “It’s a difficult employment situation right now,” one parents says in the MSNBC article. “I’m getting calls from people who have children in college or about to graduate asking the same thing of me: ‘Do you have an internship? Are there positions available?’ I try to match them up.”
But here’s where it all goes a little sour: some parents are crazy. And some kids are either lazy as heck or have no shame. How else can anyone explain the trend (mentioned in the article) of parents checking in on the job status of a child’s application? I’d have been mortified if my mom or dad were ever to call a potential employer – even at 15. The idea that parents are doing this for their 20-something-year-old children is baffling.
“I recently received a call from the mother of a Ph.D. student who was applying to jobs on behalf of the daughter and thought there was nothing wrong with it,” Steven Rothberg, president and founder of CollegeRecruiter.com, says. “The mother asked for suggestions for what jobs she should apply to on behalf of the daughter and I told her none.” Please note that this student – since she’s approaching the end of her Ph.D. – is in her late 20s and applying for a professional position.
In what world is the above example one of an appropriate action for a parent? And what sort of self-respecting person would allow a meddling parent to become that involved in their job hunt? Not to mention the fact that this person will one day soon (most likely) have a doctorate degree. According to Rothberg, the mother was surprised by his reaction. “It had never occurred to her that her daughter should be in charge of her own career,” he says.
Parents are also weaseling their way into salary negotiations. While I might ask for advice from family and friends, I would never expect them to come anywhere near my actual salary negotiation. This is apparently not the case for some people in their 20s, at least not according to Lisa Fedrizzi-Hutchins, a hiring manager for an environmental company in New York.
After she made a job offer to an entry-level candidate (and asked her to review the offer and call with any questions), Fedrizzi-Hutchins told MSNBC that she received an unpleasant surprise. “The following day, I received a phone call from her mother because she felt her negotiation skills were far better than her daughter,” Fedrizzi-Hutchins says. “She had explained to me that the salary was far too low for her daughter to live comfortable in New York City and wanted to know what we needed to do to bring her salary up.” Not only was the mother acting completely inappropriately by making the phone call, but she also had a warped sense of an entry-level employee's worth (the woman asked for four week's of vacation for her daughter instead of the two offered).
Another startling trend is that of parents showing up at job fairs alongside their kids, as career advisors noted in the article. I find it hard to decide if these examples are saying more about the parents or the kids. In any case, it’s all too much - way, way too much. A phone call or e-mail to an acquaintance that might know of a job opportunity is one thing, but actually doing the entire job search for your kid is not just going overboard in my books. It shows an absolute lack of boundaries in the relationship.
Have you ever experienced a parent going overboard to help their kid find a job? How much help is it appropriate to give your job-seeking offspring? And who do you think comes off worse in these situations – the kid or the parent?