As a Job Search Coach and Career Development professional, I often get asked by well meaning parents if there is anything they can do to best prepare their teens and young children for the job market. Or what are the best career options to pursue. The latter question is best left to labor analysts and economists who forecast what the domestic and international markets will require to determine which skill set will be in high demand over the next decades.
So what can parents do to best prepare their children to succeed within a chosen career? As a career professional, former recruiter, hiring manager and as a current parent myself, here are my suggestions of what parents can do outside the education system to best prepare their kids based on the clients I have worked with and prospects I have interviewed over my 16 year career:
1) Make sure kids know how to write well. Whether a child will be a scientist, software engineer, mathematician, marketing copywriter, web designer, graphic artist or author, the child will need to know how to communicate his/her ideas clearly in a written format. As the workplace becomes more and more global, work initiatives will get done via email, blogging, instant messaging and real-time collaborations in the ‘cloud’. Face-to-face communication, while always important, is becoming second to being able to convey your concise ideas in a written format. Kids who cannot put a sentence together or who are too wordy in their expressions will be left behind.
2) Resiliency is equally as important as brains. Most of us may secretly wish our child will be the next socially-conscious CEO, tech start-up founder or gifted musical genius. However, if they are not born with the rare gift of a Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Yo-Yo Ma that contributes to their drive to succeed, even if they are still exceptionally bright, today’s children need a formidable resiliency to bounce back from the setbacks they will experience. As an ivy-leaguer, I have often seen the superior resiliency of an average student beat the elite-educated student with the average drive. Teaching your children to work smart is equally as important, and sometimes more important, than just being smart.
3) Show children how to make friends and how to be a good friend. This will be their foundation to networking. Demonstrate to kids how to be a good friend and how to engage to make new ones. This also includes how to set boundaries and not be taken advantage of by people—making friends is different than doing things to be liked. It is a tough lesson to teach and learn. Expressing to our children that it is OK not to be everyone’s friend and to develop qualitative relationships will be essential to them developing networking skills in college and in the work world that can help advance their career and personal initiatives forward.
4) Let kids solve their own problems—then they become adults who can solve problems. Kids that can solve small problems now will have the confidence to solve big problems later as an adult. If parents constantly mediate friend/sibling conflicts, kids will not learn how to maneuver interpersonal relations as an adult. Well meaning parents may give answers to their child to help them gain an edge, but if done regularly, the child will just learn to come to the parent for the answers—and not be resourceful to seek or construct the solution on his/her own. If teachers are instructing kids based on what will be needed for tests only, then kids struggle to formulate solutions that have no defined constraints.
What profession a child chooses is not as crucial as the child having the passion for their chosen profession coupled with the soft skills listed above to pursue it successfully.
Written by Lisa Rangel, Executive Resume Writer
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