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drunken monkey

I'm not sure I'd hire someone whose parents were calling me to check up on the job interview, and I definitely wouldn't hire someone who copped to having Mom write their resume. Every time I read a story like this, I wonder when the parents involved will realize that they're not doing their children any favours.


I work for an AmLaw 100 firm, and trust me - our industry is starting to see this too. Mind you, these are the parents of J.D.s (i.e. 24/25-year-olds, which the last time I checked was well into a decade generally described as "adulthood").

The thing is, everyone keeps talking about the size of the upcoming generation - even larger than the boomers, right? Well, if there's a gazillion of Gen Y and only X number of jobs (welcome to supply and demand) then it's the employer's pick. And I agree, drunken monkey - a phone call from Mom pretty much guarantees that you. are not. the pick.


That New York magazine article is fascinating, Lisa. It's was like reading about my childhood. Crazy.

I was totally one of those kids who got praised for being smart - I've never questioned that I was smart but I do sometimes give up on things if I initially find them too hard. I wonder if that would be different if I'd been praised when I worked hard at things, rather than for things I was naturally good at.

My parents may have praised the wrong things, but they never called my work. My god, do these kids not die of embarassment?


There's other work out there that backs up the New York article--my mom works in an university economics department, and one of her guys was working on something with a Scottish researcher who studies values education--that William Bennett Book of Virtues type of jazz. And aparently the best thing to teach kids from a young age, which pushes hem into higher academic achievement and economic gains, is perseverance. Not "With God All Things Are Possible," not lying is bad, not thrift or whatever.

Alice, my dad was real big on the "you're so smart" thing, and I remember rolling my eyes at him and thinking from a young age "That doesn't do me any good because I don't know how to do anything!"

drunken monkey

My parents told me I was smart, but I think they also hit a balance between praising me realistically and making sure I didn't end up thinking I was the awesomest -- just awesome, because everyone's awesome in some way. I'm not sure what our blue collar background had to do with it, but I didn't grow up feeling like I was owed something, and that's the sense I always get from these articles -- that these parents feel like their kids are owed the best jobs, the best schools, the best lifestyles, and will do anything to make sure that happens, even if it means their children never actually have to earn anything for themselves.


Not just that their kids are owed--but that there's only one shot for them to get a good job, write a resume, etc., so it has to be absolutely perfect. So of course the kid can't be trusted to do it himself. That's the real killer bit.


Shotrock, to exactly which extra-large "upcoming generation" are you referring? I'm obviously out of the loop. I thought the job market would be improving for the rest of us as the boomers retired.


That Bronson article was very interesting to me because I've been trying to sort through the way my parents were always so supportive of me and patterns that I see between myself and my brothers. They were quick to praise intelligence above all else and I never really made a connection with how that may or may not affect my perseverance and striving.

So, I'm not old enough to have kids in college but what if these super self-esteem kids who were always told they were so smart have kids? Sounds like a possibly self-perpetuating system.

Also, I guess your mom shouldn't write your resume but I was always told it was the smart (heh) thing to do to get people who are older and wiser to look it over and give you ideas. I've been helping my little brother with his resume as he is set to graduate in a few months. It went from really scattered to very concise, direct and a better reflection of who he is. He's never done a resume before. Is this a bad thing? Resumes should be truthful but I don't think it's some moral or ethical failing to have someone help you put your best foot forward in that arena.


Hi ambient - I'm referring to Gen Y or Millennials, about 60-75 million strong (about the same size as the Boomer generation). And speaking of our aforesaid soon-to-be-elders, well, my analysis goes like this:

1) First, many Boomers actually aren't retiring. A lot of companies downsized that generation (high earners, high benefits) during the last recession - then realized all their institutional knowledge and skills was walking out the door, so immediately hired many back as "consultants" - i.e. contractors. Some aren't happy at the lack of job security of the contractor's life, while others love the flexibility. End result is the same though: that's a job that's not going to someone else, whether Gen X or Gen Y. In my industry (law) many firms put in mandatory retirement policies decades ago, forcing partners to retire at 65 (not leave the firm, but go to "of counsel" or "counsel" positions, which are less lucrative) thus allowing the "next generation" (ironically, Boomers, at the time) to reap the remunerative rewards of law firm partnership. Now it's their turn, and the Boomer partners are fighting this tooth and nail, to the extent of suing their own firms, or leaving to become partners at other firms without the mandatory retirement. In short, Boomer "retirement" might involve two of them job-sharing that marketing position that would be a perfect fit for an up-and-coming Gen Yer.

2) There are 3 levels to the "traditional" job market: entry-level, middle management, and executive. So your job opportunity depends on which category you're looking for. For example, many Gen Xers were shut out of progressing to middle-management and executive positions by the fact that Boomers held those jobs and weren't moving. Instead of spinning their wheels, Gen Xers said the hell with "traditional" and went out on their own - a 1997 study by the National Federation of Independent Business and Wells Fargo found that people under 30 (at the time) were more likely to start a business than any other group. Some ended up very successful: Dell, Yahoo, Google, etc.

What job opportunities are Gen Y looking for? Entry-level. Sure, *some* boomers are retiring, but a 22YO isn't going to be a viable candidate for said Boomer's corner office. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of younger adult workers (those between 18-34) will increase by 10% between 2003 and 2012. Will entry-level jobs increase by 10% as well? Not likely. And in that situation, a Gen Y college graduate is competing with 60 million generational compadres (or at least those of whom also have degrees). That means that the entry-level job market is a buyer's market - companies will get to choose which grad they want, and as I said, the one whose Mommy can't let go probably won't be it.

Of course, this is assuming Gen Y even wants those jobs. They may decide to opt out of Corporate America and do something else, like the entrepreneurs of Gen X.


Amanda, I think there is a difference between having someone critique your resume and having them write it for you. I look at it like the difference between having your mom read over your book report and having her write it. In the former case, you improve your writing skills. In the latter, you get nothing out of it other than the finished product.

I did some technical recruiting for a former employer, and I agree with everyone else here that if a candidate's parent showed up for the career fair or interview, the resume was going directly into the "thanks for applying" folder. We needed people who could break down problems and write software to solve those problems. Having your mom along on the job search doesn't convince me that you are a problem solver. I mean, if your mom doesn't trust that you have the skills to get the job on your own, why should I?


Since I was another one who was told from an early age that I had a working brain, I've been chewing on the NY mag story since I read it because, hey, navel-gazing!

It was uncomfortable to read in the sense that yes, if I biff something, I am usually upset because "I'm smart enough to know better." The exceptions: I am okay with being bad at something if I know going into it that I'm bad at it. This is how I could do marathons: I'm no natural runner, so the accomplishment was all about discipline and perseverance. However, with a lot of other things (like writing), I am always wondering if I'm sufficiently diligent and disciplined, if I'm really doing the best that I can or if I'm lazy. I tend to think of myself as very unfocused and undisciplined.

To my parents' credit, they also praised diligence and their highest regard was reserved for making marked progress in anything we tried, so I'm going to hope that helped us overall.


Ew, I can't even imagine what a parent must be thinking to interfere with their child's career. Shoot me if I wvwe get to that point. I freely admit that my life is completely wrapped up in my children right now, but they're babies and I eagerly await the days when I don't have to follow their every move. Isn't the goal of parenting to raise functioning, independent adults?

The NY mag story was really interesting, too. It very much described my experience. My parents always told me I was smart, yet I was not a very ambitious student. I never took advanced classes or anything like that. I didn't like to push myself. The only thing that I excelled in at school was music and I can guarantee you that no one ever praised my innate clarineting abilities! I worked very hard at it and it was very gratifying.

I remember something my mom said once. She told me "I never liked it that people would always tell little girls "you're so pretty". They'll grow up thinking looks are everything. So I always made a point to tell you "You're so smart"." Sometimes as a parent, it feels like you just can't win. But it is good to be reminded that specific, concrete feedback is more effective than general, vague praise (or criticism).


"Sometimes as a parent, it feels like you just can't win."

Yeah, Katie, I wonder about that too--my parents were always very critical of our looks, so I've always made a point to praise the looks of my friend's kids, because for me it was such big deal to realize that I wasn't ugly (I praise other things about them, too, because of course it's not all about looks). But then I read that girls who believe that they are pretty actually worry more about their looks than girls who believe that they are homely, so...hmmm. It's tough.

My family also valued brains, but I think my siblings and I benefited from the fact that there wasn't really a "smart one" in the family--we were all bright, and my parents (who are very well educated) knew more than anyone, so you really had to scramble to keep up. The main thing was that my parents valued intellect in the abstract--they wanted us to know a lot, and the fact that we were bright just meant that we didn't have any excuse (and I was told that quite explicitly). They certainly went overboard in many ways, but I think the basic approach was sound--none of us have been the type to just sort of cruise through life, expending as little effort as possible, the way I've seen other bright people do.


Career offices were NOT the first to get those calls. This isn't a new trend - this has been happening for the last six or seven years at least. (I work in higher ed)

I would also hazard a guess that these helicopter parents are sending or sent their kids to pricey private schools. They are making sure that their investment earns their returns.

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