Are You Ready for Parent Outreach in the Workplace?

Yesterday’s Leadership Daily Advisor explored the much-debated trend of including prospective employees’ parents in engagement, recruitment, and retention strategies—paying special attention to the growth of LinkedIn® Corporation’s “Bring In Your Parents Day” initiative. Today we describe examples of how some companies choose to implement the practice—plus offer up some tips to consider before adding the concept.

Figuring they can’t beat the trend, some employers are joining it. Some examples:

Comarketing job opportunities. Enterprise Holdings Inc., the car-rental firm, sends letters to parents of students who have been offered a position, touting the company, explaining what the job is and sometimes detailing the offer. HR representatives say these tactics have raised their acceptance rates.

In-house meet-and-greets. Financial management firm Merrill Lynch invites the parents of summer interns to visit its offices. Mothers and fathers tour the equities trading floor, stay for a luncheon, hear presentations by executives and ask questions about life at the firm.

Parent-centered packets. Accounting and tax firm EY (Ernst & Young) distributes so-called “parent packs” to graduating students during information sessions at colleges and universities. The information—centering on company benefits, the recruiting process and the types of skills the firm seeks—is meant for job candidates, but it is also intended to be shared with parents.

Social and community service. No employer wants parents involved in the day-to-day business of the company. But employers can channel parents’ desire for involvement into alternate activities for the benefit of the company and its young employees. Insurer State Farm supports large community service initiatives companywide, and it regularly invites employees’ families to participate.

Tips for a Parent-Approved Brand

Any parental involvement in the career development and recruiting process needs to be carefully handled, experts say. To navigate the trend carefully and leverage it properly, follow these guidelines as your company decides if and how to incorporate the idea:

Consider your workforce and future recruiting targets. Then, look at ways to acknowledge parent interest in college-grad employment—without an overly hard sell.

Always keep the focus on the jobseeker, not on the parents. Ask the prospective recruit if it’s OK to send information to or invite parents to learn more, for example. And don’t let parental involvement interfere with or disruptively influence traditional, necessary, and legal steps in the hiring process.

Set a firm professional boundary. Sitting in on interviews or intervening in salary negotiation, for example, aren’t allowable venues for parents. Both first impressions and final decision making must be left to the applicant, not to the parent.

“Parents want the best for their kids, but being overly involved in their child’s job search can cause more harm than good,” notes Brandi Britton, a district president for staffing services giant OfficeTeam. “It’s a positive for mom and dad to help behind the scenes by reviewing résumés, conducting mock interviews, and offering networking contacts. However, ultimately, companies seek employees who display self-sufficiency and maturity.”

Recognize the parent’s influence, but avoid the parent trap. Even though you want to discourage overly-hyper helicopter-hovering tendencies in your hiring process, realize, too, that a parent who thinks yours is a good company to work for will likely have an impact on the child’s opinion. And that just may help brand your firm as a top-choice workplace for this generation of job candidates.