Robert McCauley | ,| By
Your college graduation is right around the corner, and chances are you’ll soon be launching a job search for the first time. That means answering a tough question: Should you ask mom and dad for help?
Recent grads yearning for independence may be eager to prove they can find employment on their own. But don’t overlook the assistance your parents can offer. They’re no strangers to the job hunt themselves.
The tricky part is knowing how and when to get them involved. Too much participation on their part could actually harm your prospects. Here are tips for doing it just right:
Ask for their advice. At some point, your parents found their first “real” jobs. Sure, that may have been years ago, but chances are they’ve conducted at least a few job searches since then. So, pick their brains. What worked? What didn’t? What hurdles can they alert you to, and how would they recommend avoiding them?
Have them put on their ‘hiring manager hat.’ Ask your parents to read through your resume and offer an honest critique. Have you played up your strongest qualifications? Is your resume clean and concise? Do you come across as professional?
If you have an interview scheduled, see if your parents would be willing to play the part of the hiring manager during a mock meeting. They can offer suggestions for improving your performance and may even point out questions you’re likely to be asked.
Tap their network. No doubt you’ve heard that networking is one of the most effective ways to find employment. Unfortunately, your network is probably still under construction.
Give it a boost by asking your parents to facilitate introductions with people they know. One of their contacts may be able to alert you to an unadvertised job opening or be willing to pass along your resume. Just don’t forget to thank anyone who offers to help.
Seek solace. One thing you’re almost guaranteed to discover about the job search is that it’s filled with ups and downs. When you’re feeling frustrated, worn out or just plain sick and tired of the whole thing, talk to your parents. They can relate. They may have recommendations for moving past your struggles. At the very least, they can serve as a good sounding board or shoulder to cry on.
Know the limit. There’s a big difference between asking your parents for help and delegating your job search to them. You may have heard stories of parents who have accompanied their children to job interviews or followed up with the hiring manager about their kids’ application. Rather than helping, these types of actions will call into question your maturity level and ability to handle the job.
You should be the sole contact with employers at all times, no matter what. It’s fine to ask your parents for advice on negotiating starting salary. It’s not OK to ask them to negotiate on your behalf. (Yes, job candidates have done that.)
If your parents insist on taking an active role, you’ll need to push back — tactfully, of course. It may be difficult, but it’s necessary. After all, it’s your job search, not theirs.
How do you utilize your parents in your job search?