5 Ways Your Parents Can Ruin Your Professional Job Search

A red octagonal sign reads "No parents allowed"

It's your first professional job search, and you're ready to find just the right opportunity to launch your career. You're also close to your parents, who are eager to help. How involved in your job hunt should they be?

Support for your professional job search

It's smart to draw on your folks' moral support, the wisdom they've gained from their own work experience and maybe even some of their valuable networking contacts. But be very cautious about leaning on them for more than that.

Why? Because prospective employers aren't just paying attention to your grades, internships and extracurricular activities. They're also looking at your personal qualities, such as maturity and self-sufficiency. If you let Mom and Dad do the hard work, it'll raise questions about your own competence and confidence.

It can also send a message that you think you have better things to do than managing a professional job search. What's more, the organizations where you're applying might worry that your parents will interfere in your work life after you're hired.

Don'ts for parents when you're on a job hunt

Here are five things you should never let your parents do if you're conducting a professional job search:

  1. Accompany you to a job interview

    Not much makes you look more immature than this move. If you can't handle a job interview solo, how can you manage your workday alone? Yet it happens more often than you think; so much so that many hiring managers are aware of how best to deal with helicopter parents.

    If your parents want to come along with you on a job interview, suggest some other ways they could help instead. For example, they could conduct a practice interview with you beforehand, help you devise answers to common interview questions, or meet you afterward for lunch or dinner to talk about how the interview went.

  2. Call the hiring manager

    Mom and Dad might be yearning to lobby for you, but hiring managers should discuss issues about your application with you only. In fact, at some companies, hiring managers and recruiters are restricted from talking about job candidates with anyone other than professional references and the candidates themselves. Calls from your parents will only annoy hiring managers and diminish their opinion of you.

  3. Attend job fairs on your behalf

    Hiring managers and recruiters aren't looking to hire your parents — they want to know more about you. That can only happen if you attend the fair personally and hand the representative a resume yourself.

  4. Write your job application materials

    Remember, this is not the only time you'll need to conduct a professional job search. You'll need to apply for new jobs throughout your career. So it's best to learn how to write resumes and cover letters without parental help. Limit Mom or Dad's input to editing or proofreading help.

  5. Try to influence or manipulate the hiring manager

    If your professional job search has led you to the same employer as one or both of your parents, it's OK for Mom or Dad to help you find the name of the hiring manager and that person's contact info. You may even have them pass along a resume on your behalf. But don't ask them to do much more than that to help with the job hunt. It's not OK for your parents to check in daily on the status of your application, for instance. That kind of interference could hurt your chances of getting the job.

Asserting your independence and gently asking Mom and Dad to pull back if they're becoming helicopter parents might be hard in the short term, but the confidence and skills you'll gain by acing a professional job search on your own are well worth it. Soon you'll be the one dispensing career advice — maybe even to your parents.