Skip to Main Content
by Vault Education Editors | November 08, 2010


Mom and dad tagging along on their child's job interviews—is this for real? Incredulous former Yahoo! HotJobs head Dan Finnigan thought the spread of helicopter parents from the playground to professional life was a joke. It's not.

But there they were, real-life stories that left me flabbergasted: recruiters and HR managers reporting that Generation Y parents have been calling employers to negotiate salaries and benefits on behalf of their young-adult children. Really. Some are showing up at job fairs, or worse, the actual interview. Some companies have even implemented training on how to handle over-involved moms and dads.

Parents with years of job search experience are a major resource for their children, many of whom are overwhelmed with the transition from student to professional. And with nearly 50 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds living at home, some parental hovering is acceptable and surely expected; in very rare instances, companies might even welcome it. But in general, hyperactive parenting a college graduate can be damaging and mostly just embarrassing. When it comes to parents—normal, well-intentioned ones—helping with your job search, it all comes down to common sense. Taking an advisory role is fine, even encouraged. Direct involvement is not. Here are four tips to keep your meddlesome parents from lovingly sabotaging your career.

1. Stop following your parents' directions unquestionably. Be an adult.

If mom's constant tampering is hurting your job chances, explain in a calm and composed way that no employer ever, ever wants to deal with a parent. They're going to hire you, not her. Understandably, when living at home again, the tendency is to revert back to your teenaged self, making that necessary serious conversation difficult. But you're almost an adult now. It's time to practice those serious discussions.

2. Prove yourself to them.

Show you can handle things yourself. Research interviewing techniques, salary negotiation skills and other job-hunting tips first, then practice with a parent. Ask them to help you with a mock interview, for example. Once they see that you've done your homework, they won't feel the need to step in.

3. Set rules on what type of help is appropriate.

Your parents have job search experience. They know how to craft a good résumé, have sat in both successful and horrifying interviews, and have a strong network of contacts. Utilize their experience, but determine the extent of their help. Talk to your parents about your goals and ask them to help in specific capacities. Let them know you value their advice but emphasize the importance of learning the job hunting process by yourself.

4. Stall: Cut a deal.

Tell the intrusive parent to stand on the sideline in a coaching capacity for a trial period. If after the deadline passes you still need your space, renegotiate. It's basically a stalling tactic, but it should buy you some time before the next clash.


If all else fails, we've outlined some Dos and Don'ts for parents trying to help their child with a job or internship search. Make sure to leave the page open on the computer or a place a printout where they're sure to see it.



Filed Under: Education|Grad School