How to Help Your Child Find a Job

How to Help and Where to Hold Back

College student and father at laptop
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A mom of a recent graduate attended a college alumni career networking event with her daughter. She came to "help" her daughter (who looked appropriately mortified) find a job.

A young man who had recently earned a PhD accepted a post-doctoral position in a city far from his hometown. He arrived to tour campus and search for housing with both parents in tow to approve the job offer and the community.

Perhaps some parental initiative is a result of the number of recent college grads still tied to their parents' purse strings. A 2015 New York Post article reported that about half of students expect to be supported financially by their parents for up to two years after graduation, according to a survey released conducted by Upromise, the savings division of student lender Sallie Mae. However, I'm still surprised to hear stories like those above, because one of the first rules of job searching is to do it on your own. When my teenage daughter interviewed for her first job, the interviewer asked if she wanted me to come in the room with her. She chose to go in by herself which was a smart decision.

On another note, I regularly receive emails from parents asking me what information they can give to their child to help them with a job search. As a parent, you can play a helpful role in assisting your child search for jobs.

However, even though your intentions are good, sometimes your efforts can have a negative effect.

How to Help Your Child of Any Age Find a Job

Suggest that your child visit their school's Guidance Office or College Career Office early to investigate career options, pursue job and internship opportunities and to get career planning assistance.

Network. Talk to your friends, your colleagues and your relatives about your child's job search. It works - my first job was at the local grocery store, where my mom was a frequent customer. My stepson was hired by a family friend after meeting him at a birthday party.

Share resources. Talk to your son or daughter about what to wear on an interview, how to interview and the polite gestures (like sending thank you notes) that will go a long way towards getting a job.

Get paperwork ready in advance. Help your child compile the information he needs to write a resume or complete a job application. Proofread the finished version and assist with the process to get working papers (it can be cumbersome) if needed. However, don't write their resume for them, warns Stiller Rikleen, executive-in-residence at Boston College's Center for Work and Family, in a 2013 article on An employer will spot that a mile away. Rather, be your child's advisor; let them bounce ideas off you but don't do the work for them.

Assist with transportation. If your child is too young to drive, assist with coordinating transportation to interviews, and to and from work.

Let them do it on their own. I know it's hard to let go, but as I mentioned, I allowed my 14-year-old to make her own first impression.

I got the sense that many parents sat in, but my daughter's interviewer was impressed and my daughter got the volunteer position she was seeking. In, Patrick O'Connor, past president of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, advises against parental help with salary negotiation. Sure, every parent thinks their kid deserves a princely wage, plus if your child has student loans, you want him to get a jump start on repaying. Keep in mind though that entry level salaries are often fairly set, leaving little room for negotiation.

Let them find their own path. Don't pressure your child to pursue a career that he or she doesn't want. They will work the hardest when they discover something they really want to do.

Push if necessary. Encourage your child to start job searching and stress the importance of it, but don't overdo the financial support.

They may be more motivated if they have to pay their own bills...although according to a 2016 New York Times article, for the first time in history, young adults age 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than with a romantic partner--32 percent do so, says the Pew Research Center.

Suggested Reading: A Parent's Guide to Helping a Stuck at Home Grad