This Is My Resume. And This Is My Mom.
The Wall Street Journal published an article last week about how companies are welcoming (over?) involved parents into their Millennial children’s professional lives in an effort to be more appealing to youngsters.
Or, to offer Gawker’s more sarcastic summary: “Some members of the greedy millennial generation, those little sellouts, are so coddled by their ‘helicopter parents’ who've fed them a steady diet of entitlement sandwiches their entire lives that even when the kids grow up and get jobs, they can't leave mom and dad at home.”
Google Inc. already has “Take Your Parents to Work Day.” LinkedIn Corp. will have its first go at a similar event on Nov. 7 and is encouraging other companies to follow suit. Then there’s Northwestern Mutual, an insurer where Michael Van Grinsven, field-growth and development director, works and where managers can’t seem to get enough of their college-aged interns’ parents. From the Journal article: “ ‘It's become best practice,’ Mr. Van Grinsven says, noting that parents can influence their children's career decisions. Some Northwestern Mutual managers call or send notes to parents when interns achieve their sales goals and let parents come along to interviews and hear details of job offers. They may even visit parents at home.”
OK, a day devoted to showing your parents your office is probably somewhat unnecessary. Then again, so are yoga studios, Lego play stations and workplace slides (think playground, not PowerPoint). The notion of managers visiting parents at their homes is outright strange.
Young adults have long looked to mom and dad for advice, guidance and -- yes – a little bit of coddling. (I’m guilty on all three counts.) Cultural and generational shifts have heightened this brand of closeness between Millennials and their parents. But literal closeness certainly also plays a role. In the U.S., the largest share of 18 to 31-year-olds in at least 40 years -- 36 percent -- was living in their parents’ homes in 2012. Thank you very much, Great Recession.
So, when managers are making their house calls, one imagines there’s a real chance that in some cases they are visiting their young employees’ homes as well. Better keep that room of yours clean in case your parents offer a grand tour. And maybe ask mom to take down those photos of you in your Goth phase.
Perhaps the greatest surprise in the article concerned the behavior not of employers but employees -- or potential employees: “A 2012 survey of more than 500 college graduates by Adecco, a human-resources organization, found that 8% of them had a parent accompany them to a job interview, and 3% had the parent sit in on the interview.”
I cannot fathom why even 15 young adults brought their parents into an interview. (My fellow Millennial Mike Miesen hopes it’s a “statistical anomaly.”) To hold their hands? To kick them when they check their text messages? To impart charming stories of little Johnny at age six telling all the kids at the pool that when he grew up he didn’t want to be an astronaut but rather a mid-level associate at a top-tier consulting firm?
If the parents are helping out during the interview, shouldn’t the companies be hiring them, too, as a two-for-one deal? And if they’re just there to alleviate stress -- or to tout the company's good qualities to their children afterward -- shouldn’t firms at least give them a part-time gig, or keep them on retainer, so that they can swoop in for professional handholding during other stressful periods: before big presentations, annual reviews, the office holiday party?
There is more grim news from the Adecco survey: 2 percent of recent graduates reported that their parents called or e-mailed potential employers for them; another 2 percent had parents who followed up for them after their interviews; 1 percent said their parents wrote their thank you notes.
Still, as I’ve written before, cut us a little slack. The survey found that 69 percent of respondents said that mom and dad weren’t part of their job search. So most Millennials are hunting for jobs -- the few jobs that actually exist -- all alone. Some would probably be happy to bring along mariachi bands to their interviews if they thought it would in any way help them secure a well-paying position.
Then again, not everyone is so desperate. My favorite bit from the Adecco survey? Five percent of recent graduates would not take a position that they were interested in if they were not permitted to play “games on my phone or device (i.e. Words with Friends, Drawsomething, etc.)” on the job. And that’s where I stop standing up for my generation.
(Zara Kessler is an assistant editor and producer for Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)