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How helicopter parents muscle in on kids' job searches

As American students graduate this spring from high school and college and enter their working years, there's one thing many of them won't be leaving behind: their helicopter parents.

Almost four out of 10 Americans between 18 to 24 years old say their parents are involved in their search for employment, according to a survey from Adecco Staffing. Over-invested parents are doing everything from accompanying their adult children to job interviews to writing their thank-you notes after an interview, the study found.

"It's unbelievable right now how much parents are taking an interest and doing a lot of the work in getting their children a job," Joyce Russell, president of Adecco Staffing U.S., said in an interview. Parents are "enabling those kids and not creating a generation of doers."

When it comes to a job search, these helicopter parents risk sending a negative message about their children to hiring managers, Russell noted. "It's showing me that they need help, I need this young generation to have the initiative, and I don't need their mom and dad to do that," she pointed out.

Students are graduating into a tough job market, which may be prompting some parents to get involved in their kids' job search. After all, what's a worse prospect: having an unemployed 20-something in your house, or making a few calls to business contacts on their behalf?

The U.S. unemployment rate for Americans between 20 to 24 years old stood at 12.2 percent in March, or more than double the 5.1 percent rate for the 25 to 44-year-old group, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Young adults are keenly aware of the tough job market, Adecco found. Seven out of 10 said they believe their age group is having a tougher time of finding a job than previous generations.

That might be the case, but relying on your parents to actually join in your job interview -- 1 percent of respondents said this had happened to them -- is not the best way to secure employment. Job hunting, as CBS MoneyWatch writer Suzanne Lucas noted earlier this month, is a grown-up activity, where parents do not belong.

The most common method of parental involvement is using a personal network to help find job opportunities, the survey found. But even here, young adults should also take the initiative, Russell said. Instead of asking a parent to call a business contact, a young adult could instead ask to use her name when making the call himself, for example.

And if a parent offers to make a follow-up call on a young adult's behalf -- two percent of respondents said their folks made those calls -- both generations should rethink their strategies. As Russell noted, such hand-holding risks casting an otherwise qualified candidate in a negative light.

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