The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Your Parents to Help Your Career

This is a guest post written by Erin Palmer. Erin writes about a variety of topics such as teaching careers, attending graduate school and career planning for US News University Directory. You can follow Erin on Twitter.

College is the time to transition from being taken care of by your parents to taking care of yourself. In the professional world, you will be on your own, which is why it’s important to learn independence right from the start of your career path.

Your parents can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to your job search and career development. It all depends on how you use them. Consider these do’s and don’ts:


Do: Expand Your Network

One of the most difficult parts of beginning a career is not yet having a strong network to rely on. Use your parents’ connections to start building your professional network while you’re in school. Inquire about their friends and colleagues who work in your desired field. Incorporating your parents’ network into your own can help you find job opportunities and potential mentors. If you end up working at the same company as a family friend who used to change your diapers, just make sure to keep it professional during work hours.

Don’t: Let Mom and Dad Complete Your Application

Having a parent fill out your application, call up a potential employer or any other form of doing the talking for you is a bad career move. Employers will not take you seriously if your parents are doing all of the work for you. How can they trust your ability to do the job properly if you can’t even apply for it on your own? Your parents won’t be with you when you go to work, so they shouldn’t participate in the job search process at all.

Do: Ask for Advice

Starting your career can be scary and overwhelming, so it is important to ask for advice when you need it. No one can make your decisions for you, but talking things through can help you make the right one. Even if your parents work in an entirely different field, they can likely still relate to your issues. Certain workplace stresses are universal, so chances are your parents may have the answers you need.

Don’t: Use Your Parents as a Reference

Putting your parents down as a reference is a pointless endeavor. Employers know that your parents are too biased to give an honest recommendation, so it is unlikely that they would bother calling. Besides, your parents aren’t the best people to speak about your professional talents. A teacher, former colleague or other professional would be a much stronger choice. Choosing your parents as a reference is basically like telling the potential employer that you can’t think of anyone else to vouch for you.

Having the support of your family can help make it easier to adapt to the professional world, but it is still up to you to handle the responsibilities. Use your parents as a guide, not a crutch. Show the world that you can make it on your own and then let your parents take you out to dinner to celebrate your success.

Photo by CP Food images.