Parents are increasingly concerned about their student’s employment during and after college. As a result, they have become more involved in their grown children’s search for jobs and summer internships. The involvement is understandable…competition for these positions grow with yet another 1.8 million students graduating this May. Parents are anxious to get a return on their investment in four (or more) years of tuition, as well as getting their child financially independent as soon as possible to manage any outstanding debt from student loans and move out.
When your student asks you to help out, do you step in and show them the way, OR step aside and let them figure it out? Here is some advice on how to navigate this balance of where your role as a parent fits into their job search… and when it may be too much.
Helping vs. Doing
Read their resume, cover letters, thank you notes and LinkedIn profile – but don’t create them. These should be reviewed primarily for spelling, grammar and formatting – you can offer advice on content but you should not write it. It’s hard to resist writing but encourage your student to edit based on your ideas and let them write it. Interviewees have an easier time when they are articulating their own work, rather than the words of their parents.
Preparation vs. Execution
So much behind the scenes work goes into the job search. Talk to your student about their skills so they can prepare for an interview. Make sure their story is concise and focused so they know what to say to a hiring manager. Help conduct mock interviews so they can practice with a safe audience. Then, let them go on their own.
Mentor vs. Partner
Simply said, you are not a team. You are not both looking for a millennial job. If a parent has interview/hiring experience, industry related experience, or specific company knowledge, then by all means, there should be conversations where your child can learn about the process. Giving guidance on who to connect with and some do’s and don’ts regarding office etiquette are great. However, think about how you would mentor a friend’s child and advice you would offer to someone you are not related to if you were trying to help them along.
Introduce vs. Connect
It is great to make introductions but your child must be the one to set up the meeting, communicate directly and follow up promptly. The student needs to be prepared and cannot assume they will get the job based on the relationship. Encourage your student to network and talk with more people face to face, over video or over the phone. Passively applying to jobs online has a very low success rate.
Encourage vs. Hover
This one is hard…Give them space. As much as it is stressful about the future of your student’s employment, you need to let them work through the process. It takes time, patience and perseverance. The more you can support them and be a sounding board, they will start to realize how smart you are. Giving them an opportunity to move forward, and realize successes and/or failures, is the what they need for their future independence.
A few thoughts on when a parent might have gone too far. If you are writing letters for your student, making phone calls to employers on their behalf and actively searching job opportunities for them on a daily basis, it’s time to take it down a notch. We all want the best for our kids, we just need to give them a chance.
Some times having an experienced career coach can help balance this delicate relationship….and take the pressure off both student and parent with this daunting task of seeking employment. If you want to learn more how we guide students to success in getting a job or internship, visit Next Great Step.