Don’t Let Your Parents Sabotage Your Job Search


It’s in our parents’ nature to want to help us, whether they are bandaging our scraped knees or making sure we eat our vegetables.

But one place where your parents’ involvement is often a hindrance rather than a help is in the job hunt.

A new study from OfficeTeam shows that Mom and Dad are not welcome in the workplace.

So before your mom hands in your resumé or your dad contacts your potential future boss to ask how your interview went, think twice about how involved your parents are getting in a career that’s supposed to be yours.

“New graduates should steer their parents away from direct contact with potential employers and toward behind-the-scenes guidance and networking assistance.”
Robert Hosking, Executive Director, OfficeTeam

When parents become overly involved in the job application process, they become known as helicopter parents – constantly hovering over their child during a time of growth and independence.

Anaar Dewjee, Division Director of OfficeTeam, says, “Any type of direct contact [with the future employer] – via e-mail, via phone, via person, really draws a distinctive line of a helicopter parent.”

Check out these helicopter parent horror stories from the survey:

  • “One parent wanted to sit in during the interview.”
  • “A parent called a politician to push me to hire his son.”
  • “A mother submitted her daughter’s resumé on her behalf.”
  • “Someone stopped an employer at a grocery store to ask that person to hire her child.”
  • “A parent called to ask about a job applicant’s work schedule and salary.”
  • “A parent called during the interview to try to push me to hire her daughter.”
  • “I received a call from a father asking about the status of his son’s application.”
  • “A parent came by my desk and told me that he expected his daughter to get preference for a position since he was a manager at the company.”
  • “A mother called to ask how her child did in the job interview.”
  • “A parent called to find out why we did not hire her son and why we felt he was not qualified.”

Although your parents may have your best interests at heart, it’s typically better to take on these challenges independently. “The impression [that employers] get is that the individual may lack maturity. It does sometimes make employers question [the candidate’s] ability to make decisions on their own and be affirmative,” says Anaar.

How to keep your parents involved in your job hunt – in a good way

Of course, it’s not wrong to use your parents’ help throughout your job search, but like any good thing, use it in moderation.

Rather than having your parents come in contact with your potential future employer, let them help you at home. They can read over your resume, conduct mock interviews, and act as a sounding board when you’re making big decisions.

Robert Hosking, Executive Director of OfficeTeam, says, “New graduates should steer their parents away from direct contact with potential employers and toward behind-the-scenes guidance and networking assistance.”

As for how to tell your parents to essentially…well…back off, Anaar suggests that honesty is the best policy. “Be upfront from the beginning and say, ‘This is something I really want to do on my own, but of course I would like to turn to you for some advice.’ Having that open communication and setting up expectations from the beginning will allow your parents to not turn into helicopter parents.”

  1. Branch out. Networking is still one of the best ways to find a job. A parent’s friends and colleagues can help set up introductory meetings with employers and alert you to opportunities.
  2. Give it another look. Have parents review your resumé and cover letter. They can spot typos and other errors and make sure the most valuable information is included.
  3. Do a test run. Conduct mock interviews with parents to practice responses to common questions. Ask for constructive feedback on your answers and delivery.
  4. Weigh your options. Use your parents as a sounding board about potential opportunities. They can provide a different perspective and bring up points to consider in your decision.
  5. Get encouragement. Looking for a job can be difficult, and it’s important to remain positive. Seek parental advice and support throughout the process to keep on track.