Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Don't Do Your Children's or Neighbor's Bidding

Last week I actually received a call from a father in Mumbai, India. He told me about his 26 year old son who lives and works in Chicago. I know he was just trying to help his son, but come on….

While this is extreme, every month people I know call to ask me to help find jobs for their kids or the children of friends or their neighbors. They often forward me their résumés. Every executive gets these kinds of calls, especially human resources people.  It drives us all nuts.

Although their parents or friends have the best of intentions, the truth is, it is really a turn-off.

If someone wants to call me to tell me to expect a call, that is perfectly fine with me. But to call me and do the bidding of their kids or nieces and nephews or friends of the family is actually a mistake. I really believe it works against the people they are trying to help. After all, if they are in college or, worse, have graduated, they are too old to have mommy or daddy do their bidding - even to just send me a résumé.  I am a recruiter and am happy to meet anyone appropriate (although we don’t do entry level).  I also know that the same people who called me are calling executives at companies who might be in a position to actually do hiring. If these people feel as I do, then it is indeed a mistake.

By the time someone is old enough to work, they are old enough to fend for themselves and make their own calls. They are, presumably, adults and shouldn’t need their parents’ help to get an interview.

I have asked a couple of other senior executives, both recruiters and hiring managers, for their opinions about this and every one of them agrees with me.  Mostly they agree to see people or to have someone in their organization see these people, but it starts the interview with a negative frame of mind.

When I get these calls, I rarely say anything to these well meaning relatives or friends. Sometimes I think I should. But I always tell them to please have their son or daughter or whoever they are calling about send their résumé and phone me directly. Usually that works, but occasionally the parents are pushy actually try to make an appointment with me or go so far as to ask me what companies I will be calling on behalf of their kids - some actually tell me what companies they think would be right for the people they are calling for.

The funny thing is, that when I interview these people, I often find out that they are seeing me out of courtesy to their parents or whoever.  Many are not interested in advertising, which is what I do.  Sometimes, when they are interested in advertising, I find out that what their parent or friend told me about them is 100% off base; the parents tell me that the kid is a natural creative or would be a great account person, but kids tell me they want to do something else.  It happens all the time.

So if you really want to help young people you know, give me (or anyone else) a call to tell me that someone will be calling to set up an appointment.  I will happily see them.  But, leave it at that.  

I would like to hear your comments and share them with my readers.


  1. Just this week, someone told me that his 30 year-old employee (who still lives at home) had his mom call in sick for him.

    I died.

  2. My dad was ready to do that kind of thing for me, but I (fortunately) went into a specialty that he wasn't very familiar with so I avoided the embarrassment. He was very into his fraternity at the time, and I got the impression that he (and his fraternity brothers) all did that kind of thing for each other. The "good old boy" system seemed to be strong with them back then - though not so much so now - so I could see that explaining if a friend called you.

    But for a stranger to call you about his son...that's just plain weird. I don't think I could hold it against his son, unless I found out the son put his dad up to it, but it's still awkward.

    By the way, I come to you via Mom101...I'm not in advertising, HR, or any similar field, but I'm finding your blog very entertaining. Thanks for such entertaining posts!


I would welcome your comments, suggestions or anything you would like to share with me or my readers.

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