86% of parents influence their child’s early career decisions

Through this research, we seek to gain an insight into how influential parents are being in their children’s decisions

The Cohesion Graduate Project looks to examine the extent to which parents and/or guardians influence the early career decisions of their children.

Debbie Edmondson, Cohesion said: “We have experienced a noticeable increase in parental involvement in the Graduate Recruitment Process in recent years. The trend of offer declines propelled us to question the reasons behind this increase.”

We received responses from a variety of Graduate parents and guardians – 51% of which went to University themselves, and; 43% suggested that their own career decisions were influenced by their parents.

There is a mass of psychological research into how parents attempt to live out their dreams through their children. This was one of the reasons we felt as though it would be important to carry out this investigation – parents may influence their children’s main career decisions as a means of living out their dreams through them.

We were able to link this to Humanistic Psychology, and the concept of transcendence. Transcendence, by definition, is the existence beyond the normal or physical level – we believe that this is applicable as parents will seek to exist through their children.

The above was supported by some of our findings – 59 out of our 120 respondents hadn’t attended University themselves, and 50 of them influenced at least one of their child’s main career decisions (84.75%). It was also supported by the parents who had attended University themselves – 61 out of our 120 respondents – with 53 acknowledging that they had influenced at least one of their child’s main career decisions (86.86%)

Dr Laura Chamberlain, Aston University explained: “Parents have a unique insight regarding their child’s personality, skills and potential, and so it’s natural that they can offer guidance with future career choices. However, there is always the cautionary tale of parents attempting to influence their child’s career choices without listening to what they want, or giving them room to figure it out for themselves.”

In total, 103 of our respondents influenced at least one of their child’s main career decisions (85.83%).
This provides Graduate recruiters with the opportunity to tailor their recruitment processes to suit the needs of the parents, as well as the Graduates.

To further mould this opportunity, we investigated which factors would be most important in a parents’ decision to influence their child’s decisions. To do so, during our survey – respondents were asked to rank each factor on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most important. From this, we discovered that whether or not the parent’s believed that their child would enjoy the role was the most important influencing factor (93.33% ranked as either 4 or 5). This tailors the opportunity that Graduate recruiters find themselves with by giving them direction to tailor their recruitment processes.

Generally, the cosmetic aspects of a role (e.g. salary, benefits, location) were ranked as the least important – to a parent, a good benefits package isn’t enough to encourage them to influence their child.

Christos Orthodoxou, Founder of Class Careers said: “There are so many different sources of information available for young people, and yet, parents are still one of the major influencers. Research like this from Cohesion is useful, as we are now able to understand just how much influence they have and how they can be targeted – which is increasingly important for employers looking to recruit talent from universities, colleges and schools.”

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