STOP Listening to Your Parents’ Job Search Advice

Generic 1960s pic of a father and son scene.Your parents mean well when they give you job search advice. They do! They give you heartfelt advice about finding a job and building a career because they want you to succeed. They want to see you thrive at work.

And… they really, really want you to move out of their basement!

Unfortunately, your parents’ job seeking advice is probably terrible – and you must stop listening. Here’s why:

Your Parents Came From a More Civil Time

When your parents were looking for a job back in the 1920s (or something) people were a kinder, gentler breed. No one would have dreamed of not replying to a job applicant and anything less than a handshake and a drink offer at a first meeting was considered rude.

In today’s job market you’re likely to be rudely brushed off or worse, ignored, dozens if not hundreds of times before you find a job so you’ve got to augment your searching techniques with that in mind. Your parents still think you should send out paper resumes on really thick cloth paper. In the mail. Just don’t.

Job Descriptions Were Less Specific When Your Parents Job-Hunted

Back in the day, your dad would have looked for a job based on the pay, the proximity to his house, and maybe the hours. That’s it. Nowadays jobs aren’t so cookie cutter – one person’s 80 hour a week accounting gig is someone else’s part-time financial consulting work.

If your parents tell you to stick to Advertising jobs because that’s what your degree is in you may be missing opportunities in tangentially related industries like Digital Marketing or even Social Management.

They Think You Can “Knock on Doors” Until You Find a Job

(Facepalm) Why do people keep using this expression? Not only are there very few actual doors to knock on anymore since businesses are increasingly digitally-based and workers are logging in remotely, the odds are if you show up somewhere without an appointment you’re going to be turned away.

Few employers will appreciate the tenacity of someone popping up all bushy-tailed with resume in hand. In fact, they’re more likely to think you don’t respect their time or the HR department’s process and be turned off.

Your Parents’ Found a Job and “Worked Their Way Up”

That’s just not how things work anymore. The average length a millennial keeps a job is about one-third as long as their parents did and this kind of job hopping is the new norm. Your parents may encourage you to keep looking until you can find a company or a position you want to stay with long term.

In reality, though, sometimes you just need to take the job that’s good enough for right now.

They Don’t Understand that Digital is How Things Work Now

Was your mom appalled when you told her you sent a thank you email to the person who interviewed you last week? Did she scramble to find some letter pressed stationery you could use to immediately correct the error?

Your parents were looking for jobs long before the Internet even existed which means they likely place way too much emphasis on phone calls, hard-copies, and phone books. In today’s competitive job-searching market most companies only want to deal with you digitally and larger businesses literally don’t offer another way at all. Respect that.

Though your parents most definitely think they know what they’re talking about (“I worked my way up at that company for 45 years, son!”) they probably are more than a little off base. Don’t be rude when the offer advice, but know that you’re a well-versed, fully capable job seeker on your own and be confident in that.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Under30CEO!



About the Author: Ryan Currie is a product manager at, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development.  In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.


Image courtesy of… thank you!



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  • Well said. I must admit to having been a bit brain-washed in certain respects, like the idea of showing enthusiasm by presenting a resume in person. The last few times I did this, I was met with confusion at least as often as I was met with outright contempt. There I was, thinking I was doing something different that would get my application noticed, when in fact all I was doing was getting my nice, linen-finished hard-copy resume chucked onto someone’s desk, making them take time from their day to actually look at the thing just long enough to decide it was easier to throw it away. And as I say, there were a few places that got quite upset that I would dare visit their offices uninvited, and from which I was summarily ejected without so much as a how d’you do.
    Now that I’ve adjusted to the way things are, my only remaining qualm is that, with all the convenience and time-saving capability of technology at our fingertips, companies are still not set up to auto-send simple form emails for communicating standard information to applicants. Just five minutes of setup means thousands of people are not left waiting for follow-up, and adds back that tiny bit of humanity to the special hell that is job hunting, IMHO.
    Cheers! Lisa Chatroop, Good.Co

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  • RobotShlomo

    Unfortunately my father is an old school Italian, so the advice I get is more along the lines of “start a house painting business, and charge a couple hundred dollars a room”, or “you need a job you can work at for twenty years”. Not even considering that living in the North East what do you do in the winter when there’s six months of cold weather that makes painting impossible, and that I absolutely DESPISE painting. But then again, he comes from the era where there was some sort of twisted sense of nobility in doing something you absolutely hate, and nobody works for twenty years at one job anymore.

    I know they think they’re helping, but they’re not. It seems all the advice I get is better suited for 1954, than for the 21st century.