In Today's Job Market, Moms Need Not Apply—For Their Kids, That Is

In order to do our patriotic share, we recently took at deep breath, looked at our beleaguered employees—now overworked from two years of belt-tighening during the recession—and we decided to make a new hire. With high unemployment not going away anytime soon, we expected a decent pool of applicants—but we were surprised by the demographic of the one we got. It appears this generation's soccer moms have found a new cause. 

Being out of the hiring arena for the past two years, we were shocked to see the number of moms who applied to our ad. Mind you, not to offer their services for employment—but those of their children. We had moms who wrote the resume (their children having no idea what it said), moms who wrote the cover letter (clearly overqualified for the position we had), moms who made the appointment, and even moms who came with their kids for the interview. The best was the mom who called for a post-interview followup to find out why her son didn't get the position (no surprise here). 

60 Minutes calls them the generation that was "raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners." Fortunately for all healthy individuals, the day comes to stand on your own two feet. Sadly, that doesn't always happen, as career coach Mary Crane told 60 Minutes

"It's a perfect storm we have created to put these millenniums in a position where they suddenly have to perform as professionals and haven't been trained," she said. "Today, fewer and fewer middle class kids hold summer jobs because mowing lawns does not get you into Harvard. They have climbed Mount Everest. They've been down to Machu Picchu to help excavate it. But they've never punched a time clock. They have no idea what it's like to actually be in an office at nine o'clock, with people handing them work." 

Protecting and guiding your child are all normal maternal instincts, yet even the most honorable of instincts can ultimately be a disservice to the child—and to my business. Stepping in and taking over ignores the unique qualities and natural abilities that the child has that can set them apart from others. It's totally normal to guide a young adult through a new process. But in the end, the applicant has to actually do the work himself, since it helps weed out what they don't want and prepares them for the new role of a worker.

Helping your child to uncover his or her "sweet spot" for a particular business—that perfect combination of ideal fit, branding, and marketing themselves—on the other hand, serves a healthy and helpful maternal role. This means helping your child uncover his own personal sense of purpose, areas of expertise, and useful experience. The clues to your child's sweet spot dwell only within him. But you can help him create a service offer, a brand, and a self that honors his purpose and makes him a valued employee. We are always getting clues as to where we should be going and what we should be doing, but it requires going inward, getting quiet, and listening. Accepting who you are and where your child is is key. Allow your gut and your intuition help to guide your child, not your ego. Honoring your child and a prospective employer will bring home the desired results. 

From a women-owned business, a company policy that says "Moms need not apply" sounds pretty strange. But Moms, we promise you're doing your kids a favor if you don't. 

[Image: Flickr user Emanuele Rosso]

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