It’s not just exam results that will get your son or daughter set for career success. If all that your child leaves school, university or an apprenticeship with is grades, they may have a very difficult time in the job market.
Start setting your child up for success now
Even if your son or daughter is a decade or more away from starting work, now is a good time to start building good career habits. They will eventually be entering a world of work where they will almost certainly experience redundancy several times. They are likely to have three or four different careers. Not just jobs, careers!
To ensure success at work and throughout their lives, they will need to develop in three key areas:
- the skills to manage their career and navigate change
- the skills that employers value and seek
- the mindsets and attitudes of success.
Although things are changing slowly, the quality and amount of career and life skills taught in schools vary considerably. This is unlikely to change as long as schools are judged on exam results and grades.
It’s important that, as parents, we take the time to ensure that our children gain the necessary skills, from school or elsewhere. After all, who wouldn’t want their child to prosper at work and throughout their adult life?
It’s easy not to give much attention to this, especially when your son or daughter is still at school or even in the early years of an apprenticeship or degree. But, there is so much they can start to do now that will set them up for success in the future.
Knowing what’s useful
Skills that employers seek.
Surveys by Manpower, the Institute of Directors and others (search “employability skills” on the internet) consistently back my own observations as a Professional Career Coach. The top skills that make young people stand out to an employer include:
- Time management
These are the skills and qualities that set young people apart from their peers. Employers I speak to make their final hiring decisions based on these.
Career Management Skills
There is a basic set of skills that everyone needs to manage their career effectively. It’s not rocket science, but our education system isn’t set up to deliver them effectively. Indeed, the most common comment from my adult clients is “I wish I’d known all this before I started work”.
The great news is that it’s a skill set that everyone can learn. There are things that you can encourage your children to do now that will set them up for success, whatever their grades. Before I share some of those, let me outline the fours key elements of that skill set (it’ll be useful for you too).
Firstly, the ability to understand what you offer and what you want. The first aspect of this is to know in detail what your skills, qualities and contributions are. A list of skills is not enough, examples of where you’ve used them and what the results and benefits were, is essential.
Traditionally, that’s where we focus when we think about careers: on what we offer. However, it’s equally important to understand what you want: what’s important in a job/career. This may include things such as balance, location, company values, how you’re managed, money, etc. Even teenagers I work with have thoughts about this, even though a full-time career may be years away.
The second element is about how you articulate all that in writing, particularly on a CV. This needs to succinctly get across who you are and the difference you make. Knowing the different styles of CV and how to use and adapt them helps secure more interviews. Useful for summer jobs and securing work experience as well as for their first career step.
You can download free CV templates at https://www.davecordle.co.uk/cv-templates
Once you’ve got that written sales document, the third element is how you take your CV to the job market. Knowing how to get noticed by recruiters is only half the story. Around 50% of jobs are secured through and with the help of networking; in other words, the people you know online and off-line.
Finally, of course, you need to be able to talk about what you’ve done competently, confidently and comfortably. These are the skills to interview effectively face-to-face, on the phone and on video.
Setting your child for career success
It is never too early to start good career habits. In fact, starting them when your career is as a student is very beneficial. With that in mind, here are some practical things that you can do to support your children right now.
Recognise and record achievements
This will help you really appreciate how your son or daughter shines. More importantly, it will help them to do so, and to understand the impact they have and the difference they make.
To do this most usefully, get them to record not just what they did, but how they did it, the skills they used, the qualities they demonstrated and the results they produced.
For example, playing hockey involves learning the skills to play the game. It also involves teamwork, leadership, dedication, communication and overcoming challenges. It may involve teaching others, organisation, planning and problem-solving. Identify what the outcomes were: taking part in matches, perhaps winning trophies are the obvious ones. Think about the wider impact: personal improvement, helping others to improve, being a good ambassador for the club, bringing joy to spectators, and so on.
Whether it’s playing hockey, learning a musical instrument, scouting, guiding, DofE, or something else, this is the evidence they will need. It will help them produce powerful CVs that will secure interviews. It will help them to talk about themselves in an interview in ways that will secure them more job offers.
When your child expresses an interest in certain careers, industries or ways of work, what do you do? You could refer them to the careers lead at school (always a good start point). You could encourage them to research their interest online (loads of good information there).
Even more important than these, in terms of their ongoing fulfilment and success, is to get them to network. Who do you know who works in, or maybe knows people who work, in the areas your son or daughter is interested in? Also encourage them to think about who they might know: parents of friends, relatives, leaders and instructors in any activities they do, etc.
Exploring their options with real people in real jobs will be invaluable. By asking good questions they’ll know what is appealing and off-putting about those options. They’ll understand what’s required and what roles there are. This will help them to find the direction and motivation to study for the things that matter to them.
There is one further, really big benefit, of creating the networking habit. By the time they are looking for their first career step, they will already know people in the fields they want to work in. People have built relationships with and who know, like and trust them. People who, if they have vacancies, are likely to be ready to employ your son or daughter.
Mindsets and Attitudes for Success
I’ve worked with thousands of people at all stages of their career. My observation is that the biggest contributor to someone’s success is their mindset and attitude. Success is how each individual (including your son or daughter) defines it for themselves. Three key mindsets to get you on the path:
- Know the outcome you want before you start anything (however big or small).
- Notice the results you get. If they aren’t what you wanted, do something different. If that doesn’t work, try something else. And so on.
- Adopt a growth mindset; in particular, a “yet” mindset. Never say you can’t do something, always say that you can’t do it yet. That opens to the possibility to achieve it in the future and encourages you to seek solutions.
Further information and resources.
Receive free weekly career tips by signing up to the “The Monday Munch”: click the yellow button at https://www.davecordle.co.uk/blog.
To find a Professional Career Coach, search the UK Register of Career Development Professionals held by The Career Development Institute, the UK’s professional body for Career Professionals. Alternatively, look for a Career Management Fellow or Practitioner (CMF or CMP) at the Institute of Career Certification International (ICCI).
Who is Dave Cordle
Dave Cordle is an Internationally and UK accredited Career Development Professional. His mission is to get the skills and confidence to define and create success (in careers and beyond) into the hands of as many people as possible.
In earlier careers, Dave mapped parts of Africa as a cartographer for the British Government and developed computer systems for what is now Aviva in the UK. Outside of work he has undertaken expeditions in the great mountain ranges and polar regions. He served as a school governor for 8 years, has led Scout and venture scout (explorer) units, and teaches swimming.
He is currently President-Elect of the Career Development Institute and chairs the Global Career Council for the Institute of Career Certification International.
Other School Entrance blogs that might be of interest: