Don't Let Your Mom Find You a Job

Last Updated Oct 12, 2010 12:46 PM EDT

I started babysitting when I was 11. (I know, I can't believe it either, but no one got seriously injured and I always cleaned up before the parents got home.) It used to drive me nuts when people would call my mom and ask if I was available to babysit. Why? Well, for one, it was me who would be changing their kid's diaper. And two, she made me babysit for that family with 4 children who were forbidden to watch television and only paid $0.75 an hour.

I totally understand why the last lady would call my mom rather than me -- because it was a horrible job. But, once you get past the babysitting for neighbors phase of your career, your mom should stay out of your job hunt.

So should your spouse, your child, and your friends.

I got an e-mail recently that said:

I was just curious on how you got your current contributing position with BNET? I have a friend who thinks this would be a perfect forum for him, but I can't seem to find a human to talk with at BNET on how to become one of the featured contributors.
Now, truth be told, I'm not a bad person to contact for that type of thing. After all, I give career advice for a living, and BNET is a great company to work with. But, he has a friend who thinks it would be a perfect forum? Honestly, if your friend thinks it's a perfect place to be, he should be the one to contact me.

Now, of course, it would be different if I knew the e-mail sender. Then it would be a legitimate networking move. But since I knew neither one of the people involved, the stranger who is actually interested in the information should be the one who sends the e-mail.

Likewise, I have a ton of e-mails that begin, "My husband..." and then detail a problem that hubby is having at work.

Now, honestly, it's not a big deal for a wife (and it's always the wife -- I never get e-mails from husbands regarding their wives) to write an e-mail to an advice columnist because I'm just that -- an advice columnist. I'm not hiring anyone. (Except, incidentally a babysitter. Apparently it goes full circle.)

But if your loved one needs a job? A real one that pays more than $0.75 an hour? That loved one needs to get off the couch and do the work himself or herself. MSNBC reported this story on helicopter parents:

Late last year, Lisa Fedrizzi-Hutchins, a hiring manager for an environmental company in New York, made a job offer to an entry-level candidate and asked her to review it and call if she had any questions.

"The following day, I received a phone call from her mother because she felt her negotiation skills were far better than her daughter," Fedrizzi-Hutchins recalled. "She had explained to me that the salary was far too low for her daughter to live comfortable in New York City and wanted to know what we needed to do to bring her salary up."

Oy. I would have simply said, "I don't discuss confidential information with other individuals without written authorization" and hung up. The manager in question, however, ended up discussing salary with this candidate's mom.

Alison Green, a management consultant and blogger follows the same philosophy regarding parents who want to control the job search:

I recommend politely telling the parent that if the kid is interested, she should apply herself. If the parent pushes, add that you need to deal with candidates directly. Period. Do not waver.

After all, you want to be evaluating the candidate not just in the interview, but in everything throughout the hiring process -- email correspondence, how quickly a candidate responds to a contact, how well they follow application directions, etc. -- and it's not the parent you want to be evaluating.

I know you want your husband and/or child to get off the couch and get a job. I know you want what is best for for your friends. I know your motives are good. But use your nagging power to help coach your loved one, review their resumes, hold practice interview sessions, or proofread cover letters. Do not contact hiring managers, HR people or current bosses on behalf of your latest project. You'll all be better off in the long run.

Besides, twenty years from now, you don't want your mom telling that lady you'll babysit her grandchildren.

Photo by beckathwia, Flickr CC 2.0