Job-hunting With Parents For Dummies

How can you get your parents to help out in your job hunt without getting them TOO involved?
Jaideep Patel

So you've walked the graduation stage with pride, performed the obligatory mortarboard toss, taken enough graduation selfies to last you a lifetime, and cheered yourself hoarse. Now you're ready to hunker down with your trusty laptop and to start your search for a job. But wait, what’s this? Mom walks over, settles down beside you, and says, 'Alright, let's look for this job together!'

Parental involvement in a graduate's job search has, in recent times, been gaining media limelight, with most employers lamenting the unexpected intrusion. In fact, a 2013 survey by PwC indicates that parental involvement in the job search process is more prevalent in Asia than it is in the West, mainly due to the cultural tendency towards familial dependence in this part of the world.

While parents may declare that this is just one of the many ways they show their concern for their children, the majority of potential employers have – predictably – balked at this trend. As far as graduate recruiters are concerned, parental interference only serves to undermine a candidate's aptitude and professionalism – something you want to avoid at all costs.

Yet, this doesn't mean that you should completely cut your parents (or your family) out of your job search! They can still be valuable assets to your quest for employment if properly mobilised. Here are a couple of suggestions on how you can make mom and dad work for you.

Tap into your parents' network!

This is one of the most common conundrums that a new graduate would have to face: to use your parents' contacts or not? It’s not unusual for parents to want to help their children's job hunt by calling up their friends to ask about job opportunities, but how much should you depend on them without seeming like you’re riding on your parents’ coat-tails?

Technically, it’s okay for you to make use of your parents' or relatives' contacts. However, it is important that you make those contacts your own as soon as possible. You may have obtained an opportunity from an acquaintance of your parents', but you should also make sure you really do have the necessary capabilities for the job.

You can also get your parents to help you set up informational interviews with their contacts who are working in fields that you're interested in. By doing this, you can find out more about that particular field without outright pulling strings to get job opportunities.

'Employ' them as your proofreaders and editors

Ask your parents to double-check your résumé and cover letters to catch typos or mistakes! In fact, the more eyes, the better! Despite the existence of spellcheck, you may have missed out on some mistakes during your own proofreading, so having a second (or a third, a fourth, and a fifth) pair of eyes on your documents will help.

You can also tap on your parents' experience in the working world, by asking for suggestions on how to improve the placements of your achievements, the tone of your cover letter, as well as other miscellaneous details. However, make sure you don't let them dictate what you write!

Make them your online gatekeepers!

Do you want your parents to see those photos of you after a couple of drinks at that club last Friday night? If that thought just made you break out into a cold sweat, then imagine if a recruiter saw them instead!

As awkward as it may feel, you could consider getting your parents to Google you and look over your Facebook account, blogs, or anything else you have posted online. What you wouldn't want your parents to see are precisely what you don’t want any employers to see, so remove all those photos, posts, shares, and links that your parents think are dodgy.

Mock interview sessions – practise, practise, practise!

Mock interview sessions are a good way to help you practise and to get into the swing of things. Draft your parents into such sessions as the 'interviewers', and let them go wild with their questions! If your parents have already been working for some time, they will likely also have plenty of actual interview scenarios to throw your way.

Wake up already!

Is the big day coming up, and you're afraid Murphy's Law may strike? Worried that you'll wake up late (if the interview is an early one), get stuck in traffic, or forget your documents?

Get your family to help! Most parents will be glad to make sure that you wake up on time for your appointments. If they are available, you may even ask them to give you a lift to your interview venue (or to somewhere close by) so that you don't get exhausted by the rush of traffic or public transport, or the ever stressful quest for parking space.

However, don't be completely dependent on your parents! This is, ultimately, your interview, so the onus is still on you to make it there on time!

Which offer should I accept?

You've attended all the interview sessions, and now your phone won't stop ringing with job offers from more than one employer! What do you do?

Try consulting your parents for their opinions! With their extensive experience in the working world and their knowledge of you as their offspring, they may be able to offer some insights as to whether a particular position or company will suit you.

What if my parents don't like my dream job?

There is, admittedly, a cultural pressure here in Malaysia (as in most other Asian cultures) towards respecting your parents' wishes. This expectation may, however, become an issue when it clashes with your wants as your own person – a very probable scenario when it comes to your job hunt.

You may want to pursue a particular line of work that your parents object to. Perhaps they think it's impractical, seemingly unstable, or just too low-paying, and – by their logic – they think you should deserve better. Your parents will typically have good intentions or sound reasoning behind their opinions. However, remember that it is ultimately you who will be doing this job. If you are going to have to put in five days a week to this commitment, then you should at least aim for a position that you will like doing – not an occupation that will please your parents.

We're not suggesting you burn bridges, though – do make it a point to address your parents' concerns too! Take the time to justify why you intend to pursue your chosen job instead of their recommendations. If you can, try pointing out how the advantages of your job can make up for all the shortcomings that your parents have pinpointed.