a-mom.jpgI was at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Conference in Phoenix this past weekend listening to Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, talk about “The Future of Web Search” and during the question and answer segment a journalist in the audience, a mom, stood up to ask a question.

The reporter, who I had met earlier, was worried about whether her kid would find a job out of college. She took this opportunity to ask Singhal about job opportunities for her son at Google.

Many of us in attendance laughed, but it got me thinking about how much our parents should be doing to help us land a gig.

Does it help or hurt to have mommy go to bat for you? Did the mom in question undermine herself and her kid in the process?

People are getting desperate out there.

Today I posted a comment from a reader who took issue with a networking post I wrote recently:

I have been reaching out to the same people for a year now and so far nothing has come up. It’s getting tiring. I can sense that some of my friends are starting to get agitated with my constant pestering. My former professors don’t even respond to my emails, which is obnoxious. To say it is discouraging is an understatement.

What’s wrong, in this environment, to enlist the help of everyone you can?

We’ve all probably read one of the endless articles on the helicopter-parent trend. You know, those moms and dads who hover over our kids trying to help them navigate life and giving them little room to do things on their own.

I have talked to many hiring managers who’ve said they had parents of applicants call them, or want to come with their kids on job interviews. This is a no no, according to most HR experts because it undermines the credibility of the job seeker.

But what’s wrong with your dad meeting someone at a supermarket who they find out works at Company X and they think it would be great if my kid worked for Company X? So, the dad asks that individual to help out their child.

That must happen all the time. I’m a big advocate of networking, and telling your family and friends you’re in the job market and what you’re looking for because you never know.

However, moms and dads have to also think about their own credibility, right? The reporter who asked the question at the session with the Google fellow took a risk. The meeting was full of reporters and editors from all over the country, and some may question her professionalism. Asking a top dog at a major US corporation a personal question could potentially undermine your credibility as a business writer.

But maybe I’m analyzing this too much.

As a parent, I’m wondering what is appropriate networking on a child’s behalf and what is not.

Instead of the becoming your kids headhunter, David Perry, co-founder of Guerrilla Job Search and author of “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0,” suggested the following:

1. If the parents have a LinkedIn profile they should have their adult children link to them so that the children can start networking on their own with a readymade network. Link to their online portfolio or blog.
2. Help their adult children construct a Top 10 list of ideal employers and then direct an email-chain letter to their closest friends indicating, “Mary/John is now looking for their first real job after college and here are the companies she/he is interested in” and list the companies below the salutation and the first paragraph. The closing paragraph should ask them to read the list and let you know if they know anyone who worked or works at those companies now and to please forward the list to 10 of their friends and ask them to do likewise.
3. Kick their adult children out of the house at 7 am 3 days a week until noon with a list of companies they’re going to “drop-in on” and complete an application. Lock the door behind them. Too many kids these days think that “applying” on line for a job is job hunting – na-ah!
4. Reward them with praise every time they land an interview or get a response back from an employer [positive or negative]. Don’t reward negative talk or behavior at all.
5. Encourage them to zig when everybody else is zagging. Employers are always looking for original thinkers and go-getters.

What do you all think? Should parents stay in the job-hunting background?

The question sparked a great discussion on the matter among my Facebook friends. (You can friend me on Facebook by finding Eve Tahmincioglu.)

Here is some of the back and fourth:

Jimmy Moock
terrible move. i would never hire someone based on their parent’s recco. trophy kids need to grow up.

Eve Tahmincioglu
that was my gut feeling on this. but i can understand the mom’s desperation.

Jimmy Moock
the child/candidate will feel much better about self once they earn a job the right way. a few failures along the way never hurt…and they will teach the candidate more about life (professionally speaking) than mommy or daddy ever could.

Eve Tahmincioglu
good point.

Jimmy Moock
i haven’t witnesses parents try to “buy” their kids internships, although i’ve read about it (you might have mentioned something about it, too?) it’s a disgrace. as for the crop of young professionals i’ve encountered over the years (and I am still relatively young - age wise), they need to grow up, put in longer hours, and earn a raise instead of expect it. it’s mindblowing, really.

Richard James
How many chances do you get to be in a room with a Google exec? Me? not so many, so if I got a chance to put my kid’s name in play I would take it- don’t you think that that’s what the elites have been doing for centuries anyway? The only level playing field is in the penthouse suite, and everyone else’s kids get the message that struggle and failure is “character-building”?

Eve Tahmincioglu
interesting take. i can see the value in trying to level the playing field. but i wonder if this approach really helps. it can back fire, no?

Petri Darby
Did the kid get a job, and would the kid have had the opportunity to connect with that person otherwise? I think it’s all in how it was done. In this economy, I doubt anyone is surprised by people asking if jobs are available anywhere.

Debra Baseden
What happens if you ask colleagues and/or acquaintances to interview your kid and it doesn’t work out? How awkward is that going to be?

Jimmy Moock
shouldn’t Google, or any other employer, higher the best candidate? if the best candidate has mommy in his/her corner, well, okay. if you hired someone over another (better qualified person) because someone’s mom asked a question has got to be bad for for business. “google it” - you’ll see what i mean.

Share experiences you’ve had with this situation whether you were the job seeker, parent, hiring manager, or even head hunter.

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