January 28, 2022

Helicopter Parents: Are You Hovering Over the Workplace?

It’s that time of year. College seniors from around the world are graduating, and they are hitting the career world looking for a job. And the interesting thing is that most are not doing it alone. Many parents are by their Gen Y’s side and not just for support and to be a sounding board. If you are a helicopter parent who is hovering over your adult child’s job hunt and interview process, you may be hurting your child’s professional development and their chances to land the job.

Helicopter parents have not only been bombarding college campuses, they are now flying way too close to the workplace. Parents are now involved in the hiring and interview process and calling HR departments to negotiate terms for their children or to berate them for not giving their sons or daughters an offer. Parents believe they are doing their child a favor, but this behavior can actually stunt a child’s adult development and hamper their ability to think and survive on their own. The hovering is also hurting the young adult’s chances to land the job, as employers roll their eyes and pull their hair out over the barage of phone calls from parents making demands, negotiating salaries and grilling them about benefits.

Don’t get me wrong…I do believe that parents have their place in the interview process, but this hovering and coddling has to stop, and most Gen Y’s are begging for their independence.

If you are a parent, here are a few ways you can help:

1) Become an outside advisor to your child to help him or her understand the total compensation package.  Talk needs, values and future goals and discuss the package in relationship to those desires.

2) Practice interviews with your child. Allow your adult child to role play both the interview candidate and the interviewer. Ask tough questions and give feedback to help strengthen your child’s interview skills.

3) Resist the urge to contact your child’s potential employer (this can actually hurt his or her chances of landing the job.) Let your adult child be the one to follow up with the recruiter and the hiring leader. This will help him or her develop the independence and confidence needed to navigate the business world.

4) Serve as a sounding board only during the interview process. Allow your child to talk, ask questions and “vent” if needed.

5) Take your young adult on a shopping day to advise on an interview wardrobe. Your adult child will have questions about what to wear for the interview (I am going through this right now with my 20-year old twins.)

If you are an employer who is being challenged by helicopter parents:

1) The helicopter parent is here. If you try to fight it, you may encounter more difficulties along the way.

2) As an employer, you will need to decide if you are going to allow helicopter parents in the door.   If you decide that you do not want to engage with the helicopter parent, you will need to enforce privacy policies from the top to the bottom of the organization.

3) Develop a packet which includes company information and a letter which details out your interview process.   During the interview, ask the young adult if they want company information sent to anyone. 

4) Host a conference call during the hiring process with the parents (if wanted only). Make this known upfront (that this is the one time that parents are allowed into the hiring process and discourage other contact in a professional way such as saying “We offer a conference call for parents before the second interview. Due to the large volume of interviews, we would like to request that you use this time to ask all questions regarding your child’s future employment.”)

5) Create a specific website just for parents which includes company information, information about interviews, dress code and a list of FAQs.  Outline in detail the hiring, review and firing process for parents. Be specific. This will prevent misunderstandings later..

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