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The Dos and Don'ts of Helping Your Child Land a Job

Helping your child land his or her first interview or job is very important. But there are clear boundaries to the things you should and should not do to help. Employers are looking for motivated, responsible, mature, self-starters. If they see a parent’s hand in the young person’s employment efforts, it will hurt more than help.

Here are the things you should not do for your child:

  • Do not attend job fairs with or for them.
  • Do not fill out job applications for them.
  • Do not write their resume.
  • Do not write their cover letter.
  • Do not accompany your child to job interviews.
  • Do not contact the employer for any reason.

Now, you can and should help and guide your child with all of these, but helping and guiding do not mean doing. Just like with homework, your child MUST do these things for himself. He must learn and embrace these skills.

Here are the things you can and should do for your child:

  • Proofread resumes and cover letters.
  • Offer support and encouragement, and nag if you have to.
  • Drive your child if necessary—just don’t walk in with them.
  • Offer financial support, if necessary and within reason.
  • Practice interviewing with them. Do a Google search on common interview questions and practice them with your child.
  • Teach them professional etiquette—how to shake hands firmly, how to look people in the eye, sit up straight, listen properly, etc.
  • Help them dress for success.
  • Help them network. Introduce them to your friends and business associates, and then encourage them to follow up on their own.
  • Make sure they say thank you. Nag them if you have to, but make sure they send a thank you note to whomever interviewed them and/or whomever helped secure them the interview.
  • Encourage them to think broadly and realistically. It’s a tough market out there. They need to know that sometimes it is better to take the job or internship offered rather than wait unrealistically for that internship at the New York Times. 

The key to helping your child is just that—helping them. You can and should teach and guide them along the way (and nag if you have to), but they need to learn, embrace, and master these critical employment skills themselves.

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