Today I watched and then weighed in on a Twitter-dialogue about those damn Millenials.
Someone whose views I respect (@spydergrrl) made a Twitter-observation that some organizations are going so far as to add waiting rooms for the parents of Millenials that are coming in for interviews. The response was quick and in some instances nasty, saying that no way, no how would they EVER hire someone who showed up with their parent.
And while I have to admit that my own initial response to reading that was: Pfftttt. I quickly took exception to how black and white some people were being.
Then my thoughts went off in two directions:
1- I KNOW parents who would accompany their kids to an interview and quite honestly, the kid may not have a choice. Yes, I know we are talking about young adults here, but you have to keep in mind that these kids have had their parents plan and hover over them their entire lives. Check it out here and here. Do you think that the parents are just going to back off now?
How hard is it to tell a parent to back-off? Well, I’m newly 42 and still can’t manage to make my own mother understand that I am perfectly capable of managing my life. And she isn’t even a “helicopter parent”. When a parent decides to dig their heels in…it’s for real.
2 – So what? So what if your candidate shows up to an interview with someone who happens to be a parent? What if they came in with a friend or a sister or their boyfriend/girlfriend. Would you react the same way? Or would you think…hmmm, guess they brought along moral support.
I’m not saying that this is ideal, but all things considered…is it the worst thing they could do? I mean, we are talking about the accompanying parent sitting in a room and waiting, not speaking on behalf of the candidate or trying to come into the actual interview.
In fact, many organizations are going even further than this and have encouraged employees to bring their parents to work. In this article, Lynn Lancaster, the co-author of The M Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace, is quoted as saying:
“…it’s all about finding an appropriate balance. On one hand, becoming a self-actualizing individual is a key step in the maturation process. On the other, young people are closer to their parents than any previous generation, which isn’t a bad thing.”
“Millennials have grown up seeking their parents’ counsel on everything – soccer teams, picking a school, creating a résumé – so in some ways the extension of this relationship into the early professional years makes sense,” says Lancaster. She agrees that smart companies are figuring out how to make a connection with parents. Smart millennials, meanwhile, should remember that getting a job isn’t a team sport.
As the parent of a 17-year old, I am frequently challenged with not crossing the line. She recently had a job interview and yes I coached her, helped her prep her answers, and would have even driven her to the interview if I had been available. I would have likely chosen to stay and wait in the car, but then I would have been keen to debrief with her afterwards.
As a parent, I think that you have to be able to distinguish “caring” from “controlling”.
As an employer, I think you have to be able to differentiate between “wanting support” from “being dependent”. And I’m not whether any employer who would automatically eliminate a candidate based on them arriving to an interview with a parental figure would be able to make this distinction.
In the same article, Lorne Friese (Talent Egg) pointed out with respect to Millenials:
“Of course, a prospective employer isn’t going to tell you that you didn’t get a leadership position because you brought your parents to a job interview,” says Friese, “but there is still the matter of the impression you make.”
I do recognize that it’s probably not the best move to bring mom or dad along with you and that you have to take a lot of other factors into consideration: the nature of job, the candidate’s stage in life, etc…but the point is that there should not be one answer to this situation.
Part of me wonders whether some of those people on Twitter that vehemently stated that if a Millenial “can’t stand on their own two feet”, or “need to cut the cord”, or are “incapable of being a mature adult” they won’t make it, might not be a bunch of bitter latch-key Gen-Xers who are still pissed off that mom and dad didn’t attend their dance recital back in 1982.
But then that would be generalizing, wouldn’t it?