Opinion

The influence of parents on graduates’ early career decisions

5 min read

27 June 2018

With the end of the academic year looming, many graduates move back in with family whilst searching for their first "proper" job. But new research shows they mainly turn to their parents for advice and guidance.

Parents maintain a strong influence on the choices their child makes; whether this is helping them choose which subjects to study at GCSE or which university to apply for. So, it should come as no surprise that Millennials are taking advice from their parents on which job offers to accept.

When recruiting graduates for a job, it is not uncommon to have parents call to discuss the potential role or for the graduate to say, “I need to speak to my parents” before accepting an offer.

It’s important for employers to recognise what new graduates are looking for within a role – and which benefits to highlight.

Company culture, reputation and career progression all rank highly for parents of graduates, so employers need to consider bringing these benefits to the fore.

In recent years, companies have begun embracing the relationship between parents and their adult children – it has also become common for companies to include “parent pages” as part of their careers portal, where company information can be tailored to suit parental needs.

When starting out on the application journey, recruiters make it clear exactly what the offering is, such as; terms of salary, benefits, scheme length, progression and future opportunities as well as information on the company culture and training benefits.

If the candidate would need to relocate for the role, then this should be highlighted up front at the outset of the application journey.

Understand the candidate during the interview process and their motivations for applying for a job, as well as any concerns and considerations they may have. Empowering the candidate, and their parent, by providing them with as much knowledge as possible, facilitates an easy and speedier decision further on down the line at the ‘offer stage’.

So, gather feedback prior to making an official offer. This could include understanding what the candidate thought of the company at interview stage, is the location right for them, do they believe that they would be supported with adequate training etc. This gives you beneficial intelligence, when processing their application.

During this feedback stage, I would also highly recommend asking the candidate if they are likely to consult anyone else when making a “final decision” – this way you are able to direct and gently remind graduates of the parent portal and other background information which could be relevant to them.

Here at Cohesion, we surveyed the parents of graduates we had placed in roles over the last year and found 49% advised their child on whether to accept or decline a job offer.

With regards to academia, 45% indicated they had encouraged their child to apply for a particular university course. In fact, a recent report by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services found 54% of students said their parents tried to influence their choice of course or career.

These students said they did not object to parents’ attempts to influence them; 66% thought this was the right thing for parents to do, while only 7% thought it was wrong.

Naturally, parents holding such an influence over their child’s career decision, has a significant impact on recruiters. Our research revealed that when looking into the most important factors that parents value in a potential job for their child the following applied:

* Future progression opportunities and enjoyment of the role ranked highest
* Training opportunities came a close second
* Company reputation and work/life balance also ranked higher than pay
* Location, benefits and salary were ranked the least important.

Throughout our investigation, it has become even more apparent that parents are actively taking part in influencing the graduate recruitment process. It would seem that helicopter parents are still hovering during the early career process!

Will Shepherd is CEO of Cohesion