Posted December 09, 2016 by

[Infographic] When helicopter parents interrupt your recruitment plan

Parental involvement during the job application process is on the rise, as we are all well aware. For older generations, the ways parents get involved may seem shocking, but it does no good to just scoff. Before an employer gets that call from a candidate’s mom or dad, they should be proactive in their recruitment plan to respond to both candidates and parents in a way that benefits all involved. 

How employers can deal with helicopter parentsFeedback for candidates

It is entirely possible that a candidate’s mom or dad is intervening without their child’s knowledge. This might be to the utter embarrassment of the candidate, but it is important for them to be aware. Brandi Britton is District President of  OfficeTeam. She says it’s important to “reinforce that behind-the-scenes parental involvement is totally fine, such as reviewing resumes, conducting mock interviews or offering networking contacts, but direct contact with companies is inappropriate.”

After you’ve made it clear to candidates that you would rather not deal with their parents, make sure they know you are not going to discount them in the application process. This is important: an applicant’s skills are independent of their parents and you should not punish them for their parents’ behavior.

Being proactive may be the best approach of all. Christy Hopkins of Fit Small Business suggests providing applicants with an FAQ that accompanies your confirmation of their application. Those FAQ may be exactly what a parent may want to know, like pay rate, number of hours, application timeline. If the applicant forwards it to mom or dad, hopefully you have just avoided that awkward phone call.

Feedback for parents

Have the same response prepared for every parent. This preparation saves you time and ensures objectivity. Hopkins suggests something along the lines of:  “Thank you so much for emailing/calling me to say hello. I appreciate how invested you are in your child’s success, and I can understand since I am a parent. However, in order to keep things fair for every applicant, I cannot talk about our selection process. Thank you very much for understanding.”

If you are like many HR professionals, it is annoying to deal with parents. However, your recruitment plan is likely becoming more like a strategic marketing plan, so remember that each interaction with any stakeholder presents an opportunity. “Being approached by a job applicant’s parent, or indeed anyone closely connected to the candidate is an opportunity to build your employer brand,” says Kevin Mulcahy, author of The Future Workplace Experience.

It’s  not your job to teach them a lesson, but Joanie Connell at Flexible Work Solutions includes a scare tactic in her response to parents. She tells them, “We find that applicants whose parents call in are less serious about the job than applicants who contact us directly.” This response is fine as long as you are not actually discounting the candidates’ applications.

Be fair

While it may be tempting to take all this into account in your hiring decision, be careful. Presumably most candidates do not have their mom or dad calling you, so beware of introducing an additional measure that only applies to one or two candidates. However, if a candidate reacts badly to your feedback, that may tell you something about how they may behave as an employee.

This may go without saying, but don’t take parents up on their attempts to influence your decisions. If they contact the hiring manager outside of HR, the manager should know to politely decline, noting the importance of privacy laws.

Embrace the change!

Enterprise is a company that proactively integrates the relationship with parents into their recruitment plan. They see that it builds a stronger relationships with candidates. They invite parents to interns’ final projects, and have a Bring your Parent to Work Day.

Maybe parental involvement doesn’t have to be annoying. Recognize that millennials’ relationships with their parents are just different than those of Baby Boomers. Not worse or better, but different. You may call it hand holding, but many of the changes that millennials’ present can be good for all of us. For example, more positive feedback, more work-life balance, and perhaps a mentor are good things for all your employees, not just the twenty somethings.

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