New trend: Bringing parents to job interviews

October 7, 2013 

Maybe some baby boomers deserve the "helicopter parents" label for the way they hover over their children. Still, I cannot imagine that a parent would consider taking part in their daughter's or son's job interview, like a parent-teacher conference. This new trend is one that some firms are embracing.

A 2012 survey of more than 500 college graduates by Adecco, a human-resources organization, found that 8 percent of them had a parent accompany them to a job interview and 3 percent had the parent sit in on the interview. Another study by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said 6 percent of recent U.S. college graduates wanted their parents to receive a copy of their job offer letter and 2 percent wanted their parents to receive a copy of their performance review. That study polled 44,000 people from more than 20 countries, a report in the Wall Street Journal said.

Before considering this trend absurd, look where young people who are just entering the work force are coming from. Millennials, born between 1981 and the early 2000s, are much closer to their parents than previous generations. They look to their parents for support and they involve them in the decisions they make, say researchers who study Millennials.

The Journal article said that some companies are encouraging parental involvement to attract and retain Millennials, particularly as they transition from college to the workplace. One example is Google that just held its second "Take Your Parents to Work Day," hosting more than 2,000 parents at their Mountainview, California campus. LinkedIn, a social media website for professionals, will hold their first "Bring In Your Parents Day" this November at its offices in 14 countries.

While I do not support having a parent sit in on job interviews, I do think companies should realize that times have changed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials will account for 45 percent of the work force by 2015 and that number is projected to increase to 51 percent by 2020. Baby boomers are leaving or retiring from the work force and smart companies are going to have to figure out how to work with this generation. Maybe it is time to swap "Take Your Daughter/Son to Work Day" with "Take Your Parents to Work Day."

Mary Helen Kress is president and CEO of Suncoast Workforce, a not-for-profit corporation serving Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

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