Parents: How to help, not hinder your child with their job search

Ange Connor

It can be a fine line between helping and hindering your child with their quest to enter the big wide world of work and gaining employment. It’s a tough world out there and it’s not easy to get a foot in the door as a young person trying to enter the workforce. As a young person, putting yourself out there, applying for job after job only to be knocked back, attending interviews, trying to answer questions that you have limited past experiences to draw on; is not easy. It’s natural that as a parent you want to help your child through that process. You want to see them succeed and you know how important getting that first job can be and how it can impact future career success. I’m not a parent so I haven’t experienced how hard it can be to see your child go through the ups and downs of job hunting. As a recruiter though, I often see parents with the best intentions hindering their child’s job prospects.

Let me give you some real examples that have occurred just in the past six months at IHQ;

  • A teenager has applied for a casual retail position. We’ve called to book her in for an interview, she answers the phone and says that she’ll put her Mum on the phone to organise the interview and get the details of what she needs to do and bring to the interview. Mum gets on the phone and proceeds to arrange the interview and gather the necessary information.
  • A parent escorts their young adult in to our office to register for work opportunities. The parent does all the talking with our team member, the young adult doesn’t say boo. When we ask about the type of work they are looking for, their skills, what they like doing; the parent jumps in and answers on their behalf.
  • A young adult has applied for a position. We receive a call from the parent wanting an update on the application. The parent advises they are the one who has submitted the application the behalf of their child, they ask for feedback about the application and are unhappy with the feedback that their child won’t be shortlisted for the position.

As a parent I get that you think you are helping. As a recruiter I am left pondering:

  • If this teenager can’t book her own interview, how will she cope when she needs to organise a task or coordinate a meeting in the workplace. Will she be on the phone to Mum, getting her to organise it?
  • If someone can’t have a conversation with us about what type of work they are looking for how are they going to communicate with their manager and colleagues in the workplace?
  • If a job seeker can’t apply for a job off their own back and can’t pick up the phone and ask for feedback; do they really even want the job? Do they have any motivation and initiative that they will be able to apply in the workplace?

These kinds of scenarios are a turn off from a recruiter’s perspective and are actually hindering your child’s chances of getting a job; not at all helping them. There comes a point when they have to stand on their own two feet when they are going to enter the workforce as you simply can’t go to work with them and solve all the challenges they will face. So how do you help instead of hinder your child’s job search?

My advice for helping your child to enter the workforce:

  • Help them identify recruitment agencies to register with, escort them to the premises if need be, but wait in the car. Make them do the talking. The experience they gain from doing this themselves will be valuable in helping them develop their communication skills and talking about themselves. It will also start to build their confidence.
  • Practice with them. Role playing is great for building confidence. Before they pick up the phone to enquire about an application, or request feedback, role play the conversation. Role play how they would handle the situation if a recruiter did call them to book an interview. Don’t cave in and handle the situation for them, helping them to develop their skills to do it themselves is going to be of far greater value to them in the long run.
  • If they don’t listen to you or take your advice (sometimes as a teenager we need to hear it from a professional and not Mum or Dad; that I do know from being a teenager, not a parent!) help them find a professional to speak to. Help them find resources on line, blogs to read to help them understand the job search process and what employers are looking for.

And while it might seem like a daunting task to make that phone call or register with an agency, the more they do it the more their confidence will grow which will only help them on their career journey. Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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