Parents, Stop Conducting Your Child's Job Search for Them

Today's young people are more thoughtful and kinder than many of the older job seekers they're competing against. They care about making a difference more than their own personal finances.

From the outside, it seems that parents are pouring more of themselves into these young hearts and minds than ever before. This effort is incredibly admirable.

But Mom and Dad, can I make a plea to you? Once your kids are on their way out of college, please let them grow up.

Very often, parents want to perform a job search on behalf of their child. The parents mean well. They don't want the child (or should I say "adult") to struggle on their way into the real world. The problem is that brokering your child's job search doesn't do anyone any favors.

Many young people seem to be so used to parental involvement that they don't recognize their parent's behavior as unusual. This means that they don't push back when the parent has crossed a line.

But you know who does think it's unusual? The hiring manager and the other people in the child's life who might otherwise help them find a job. Whether they share their thoughts or not, they're thinking it.

Struggling to find a job is part of life. That may sound strange, but the process of finding a job does more than land us a place to work — it teaches us how to look for a job, network, and solve problems. Sometimes, the process of looking can also teach us what we do and don't want to do for a living. Those are important lessons we miss if Mom and Dad serve us a job on a platter.

Don't get me wrong: Advice from a parent is incredibly valuable. Talk to your kids. Answer their questions. Give them guidance. You've been down the road and you have so much helpful information to share.

Then, take a step back. Let your child do the work. You wouldn't take a math test for them in high school. You'd help them study and then you'd let them prove themselves in the classroom.

Last year, I interviewed a chief marketing officer for my podcast. He described a situation to me where a young employee received a performance review they didn't like. Stunningly, the employee's mother called the CMO to talk about her child's concerns. Can you imagine how much that hurt the child's future? The child missed the lesson, and in the process, they lost the precious respect of their boss.

Parents are just trying to help, but at this stage of life, parents will be the most helpful from the sidelines. Trust that you've done enough work to this point. Your young person has their head on straight. They know what's important to them. Let them go out and get it for themselves.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.

Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.