Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

"Breaker one niner, we have a Big Bird at 1 o'clock"...

2009-11-04 20:14:27
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A few weeks ago I received a phone call from a woman wanting some information about her daughter's application for a job she had applied for. I asked the woman if her daughter was over eighteen and she assured me that her daughter was.

She was quite unhappy when I informed her that I could not divulge that information to her, as legally it is restricted information. I did tell her how her daughter could access the information by logging into her profile on our website.

This was my first actual experience with a Generation Y Helicopter Parent, named for their tendency to hover and dart in to "help" their grown children along the road of their lives. This can refer to everything from helping them fill out applications, to giving them advice on who to date, what school to attend or employers to apply to and scheduling their interviews for them.

I have been reading about the Millenials for an upcoming presentation I'm preparing for about using social media for recruiting and retaining this up and coming generation. Among the very real attributes of Generation Y is that they are very tied to their parents, they are maturing emotionally at a slower rate than previous generations, and they need a very high level of feedback and communication from those around them.

Today I had my first live interaction with a Helicopter parent. I was at job fair, and a young man and older man walked up to our table with the fairly standard "what sort of jobs have you got?" I gave my reply, "well, what is your background?" I addressed my comment to the older gentleman as he had asked the question.

"He's looking for something in IT." I turned my attention to the young man and started asking some questions (pointedly ignoring his father). He started writing some notes down, and I turned back to his father and said, "and what sort of a position are you looking for?" He got flustered for a moment and then said that he had a job. I put on my best puzzled face for a few seconds and he had the grace to blush, mumble something to his son, and step back a few paces.

Most of the documentation I have been reading about these helicopter parents has to do with how they are handling their children's career decisions and the impact it is having on employers.

But while I absolutely applaud a young professional for wanting feedback from their family and valuing that feedback, when it comes to recruiting the public at large needs to understand something vital: we are an industry that has very tight legal strictures on what information we can and cannot share with anyone other than a candidate. On top of that, a candidate that chooses to involve his or her parent in every phase of the job seeking process stands a very good chance of coming across as incapable of making their own decisions which does not set a good tone with either a recruiter or a hiring manager.

Millenials and their families need to understand that any part of the interviewing and negotiation phase of job seeking is an individual activity. Candidates can absolutely rely on their parents to help them ask questions that are pertinent to the job or organization, and there is no question that their world experience and opinions can help a candidate make a solid decision on their best options and opportunities, but the candidate needs to be confident and assertive enough to ask those questions on their own, and be able to do so in a one-to-one situation. This means no having Mom or Dad sit in on an interview, no conference calling to discuss an offer with salary negotiation. Part of the process includes taking time to *negotiate*, so there is nothing wrong with saying "I have to think about your offer" and coming back with more questions, clarification, and even a counter-offer. But the bottom line is that in this very highly competitive market, we are only interested in hiring Jen or Joe, not Jen, Joe, their Mom and Dad.

Parents want the best for their children, and "hovering" is obviously a sign of love and caring. But part of the parenting process is learning to trust your child and the wonderful set of values you have instilled within them. Trust them, and trust yourselves to have done the right thing. Let them stand up straight and be the person you have always wanted them to be.

Prepping for a live interview
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