The warm days of summer may be months away, but many enterprising students are already looking to lock in a job for the summer break. Some may even be eyeing a temporary post with Mom and Dad's financial advisor.
Handling a request to hire the child of a client for the summer can test your relationship with that client. Both accepting the proposition and turning it down have their risks.
"The way you manage the situation is indicative of your professionalism," says Evan Thompson, founder and business coach at Evan Thompson and Associates in Toronto. Any missteps on your part will reflect on you and your business.
If you find yourself having to field requests to offer a temporary gig for a client's child, here are some tips for handling that situation:
> Clarify your firm's policy
Before you commit to hiring the client's child, check in with your firm's human resources or compliance department to see if your firm has a policy on this matter. There may be a formal process in place for handling such requests, or there might be general, unwritten rules to safeguard against potential conflicts of interest and preferential treatment.
You should also consult with colleagues to get their perspective, Thompson suggests. Bringing on a new employee can have an impact on team dynamics and the workload of staff members, so try to get their support if you are leaning toward a yes.
> Keep the process formal
Invite the client's child for an interview to get a sense of his or her skill set and interests, Thompson says. That meeting should not be treated as just a formality. You should use that opportunity to find out if there may be a good fit.
If you do hire the applicant, don't relegate them to doing "busywork." If you have to create a position that doesn't reduce your workload or produce positive results, Thompson says, the whole experience could be a bust for both parties.
To ensure your new hire will be productive, develop a detailed job description that lays out what he or she will be expected to do.
> Weigh the risks
Assess the stakes involved in hiring or declining to hire the child. And that can largely depend on how important that client is to you, Thompson says.
One potential problem: the new hire becomes a "fly on the wall," making observations in the way you run your business that could pose issues between you and the client.
On the other hand, Thompson says, refusing outright could put your relationship at risk, especially if the client has a large account with you. That's why it is necessary to have a formal process with clear expectations, so the decision does not appear arbitrary.
> Be up-front
If you find that the child isn't a good fit for your practice, don't be afraid to say so. Be honest with your client and explain why you're not able to hire his or her child.
As much as you want to please your clients, Thompson says, your business comes first.
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