Job Advice

Sooner or Later, It is up to you…

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September 20, 2011
helicopter parentsLast week, my 8 year old son came home from school and informed me that he intended to run for the "student action committee" for the 3rd grade. Three children would be "elected" based on a poster they would make and a speech they would deliver to an audience of peers. I congratulated him on his ambition and wished him the best of luck. What I did not do, however, was manage his campaign, create his poster and write his speech.

I did listen to his speech and coached him on delivery. No matter how much I wanted to, I did not change a word of his speech because it would no longer be his and if he was going to win, I wanted it to be on his merits, not mine. This turned out to put him at a great disadvantage and he did not win, but I was very proud of him taking this challenge on all by himself. He was upset because he said that the other speeches had so many big words and ideas in them that he did not even understand them. I understood…perfectly. I felt guilty for about 1 second and then I told him that someday he would thank me for encouraging him to taking responsibility for the outcomes in his life. He did not buy it….yet.

How early is too early to teach a child to take responsibility for what life will throw their way? I have no idea what the answer is, but I know that no matter when you choose to teach this important lesson, it is not easy to let go. We seem to live in a society where kids get ahead based on the efforts and influence of their parents for so long that sometimes I feel I am part of a minority of parents who do not make it my job to make sure my kids get everything they want.

I know that in the staffing industry, our expectation is that the individuals we work with are ultimately responsible for the success of their job search. While we represent them as a conduit between their skills and the needs of our clients, the candidates are the ones who hold all of the cards as to whether or not they will get or keep a job. Putting together a great resume and cover letter may require some help from another resource, friend or parent but at the end of the day there would be no resume if the candidate did not personally accomplish all of the elements that make up a good resume.

No job interview can be successful without the candidate effectively communicating their capabilities all on their own. That means, no "parent" in the room to tell the hiring official how great their kid is. Behavioral interviewing eliminates the usefulness of scripts or coached answers that someone else can write for you. If you did not experience the situation, action and result the interviewer is asking you about, you cannot answer the question properly. If you did not come up with the action or solution yourself, you cannot answer the question properly either. No longer does riding on the coattails of others work in the present interview environment and even if it did, you would not last long in a job that was secured on pretense rather than true capabilities.

Which takes me back to my first question….How early is too early to teach a child that to take responsibility for what life will throw their way? I would love to hear your ideas.