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Parents: 3 Tips for Preparing Your School Leaver for Work

School leavers with questions

Over a decade of schooling has prepared your young adult for the new wide world of employment.

Starting on a new chapter, and with the safety of routine and consistency of school life ending, often brings fear of the unknown, apprehension or anxiety for the new journey that lay ahead – and that may be just how you are feeling! Guiding your son or daughter through the transition from education to employment need not be an overwhelming process with some forethought and planning.

Have An Open Mind Approach

Be receptive to your young adult’s career aspirations and goals.  In a world driven by increased technology, and business and consumer demands, the students of today entering the world of work (and many adults already in the workforce) are adjusting to a new employment landscape, far different from those you may have experienced as young person entering the workforce.  It is important to be aware and conscious of your reaction and receptiveness to the career aspirations of your young adult.

Non-traditional Roles

Gender and occupational stereotypes are dissolving and it is broadly accepted for females to enter traditionally male roles (e.g. labouring, mechanical or industrial roles and industries), equally as are males embraced in entering typically female oriented fields (e.g. caring or administration for example). Be open to your child choosing a path in a non-traditional field.

Emerging Industries and Technologies

The one constant we can rely on these days is change. Innovation and new technologies are creating new positions and industries at an exponential rate, and with it – new jobs and opportunities you may never have heard of before. Do some research, learn about the path your young adult wishes to pursue.

Foundation and Entry Level Employment

Sometimes big dreams and goals can cloud realistic expectations; budding go-getters can become impatient or discontent with starting out or spending time at an entry/foundational/junior level role while their competency, skill and performance develops. Reassure, encourage and speak positively about your young adult’s foundational role, and remind them this is the time to learn, build confidence and ability – and their eagerness to grow may be rewarded in the future with the opportunity to advance, with patience, consistency, and dedication.

It is normal and common for young people to be unsure or confused about what type of roles, industries or careers they would like to pursue. Often, it takes sampling different work experiences to discover what they enjoy and excel at. If they do not know where to start (stuck in procrastination often due to overwhelm or confusion), simply encourage action. Each experience is a stepping stone to finding a path that suits their preferences, strengths and goals, and the key to this, is to simply get started. The process of elimination and discovery can begin.

It is also important to support your child when they are unsuccessful, and that failure is an accepted part of the job search process (and life!). Being upbeat and supportive will help foster their resilience, perseverance, and motivation as they navigate their pathway to success.

Update Your Job Skills

Recruitment and hiring practices evolve constantly – and with it comes the need to keep up to date and refresh our employability skills (resume building, job search strategy and interview technique particularly). The reason for this is not necessarily to do these tasks where your school leaver can develop these documents and skills themselves, but more importantly – to provide feedback and guidance to them, to develop and refine these workplace critical skills themselves.

Some of the employability skills your young adult may need guidance on may include (but not limited to):

  • Job applications, including resume and cover letter preparation, including proof reading, in addition to applying contemporary resume and cover letter writing techniques;
  • Interviewing technique, which may include rehearsing common questions, non-verbal body language and self-calming techniques, professional interpersonal communication and speaking;
  • Business communication, such as formal emailing or phone conversation etiquette, the appropriate use and presentation on social media, for example;
  • Job search strategy, which can include the use of different strategies and avenues to find employment.

Building skill builds confidence, which in turn increases ability and performance. With up to date knowledge, your young adult can count on you as a reliable sounding board, someone to rehearse with, someone to coach and advise them to be able to perform to the best of their ability.

Tip: You need not become an expert on all the topics listed above; reach out to your own network of friends, family, colleagues who have special skills or current experience in these areas, ask for their knowledge and advice on those special areas as the need arises. You need not know everything – however knowing where to seek support or guide your child in the right direction for assistance is valuable.

Give Practical Support and Guidance

Encouraging adulthood, responsibility and self-independence is critical to building the foundations of a productive and organised adult life.  Start by leveraging the routine and organisation that your young adult has become used to throughout their school career. You can do this by:

  • Helping your young professional with selecting, and learning how to prepare their interview and work clothes appropriately.
  • Teaching them about responsible finances such as budgeting and saving, and assist with setting up a bank account, tax file number and superannuation fund choice.
  • Investing in a diary (either paper or an app) and alarm clock for them if they do not have one already, to foster self-organisation, routine and planning.
  • Guiding on personal hygiene and grooming including personal presentation (appropriate make-up, hair styles, concealment of piercings or tattoos), in addition to hygiene basics if necessary, which will be well received by interviewers or employers.
  • Assisting with transport options, which may include helping to get a driver’s licence where your child is able to, assist with providing/arranging lifts, or coordinating a public transport route to and from the interview or workplace.

Preparing your son or daughter for the future while coaching them and teaching habits and life skills that will stay with them is key to success far beyond finding their first job beyond high school.  Encourage your young adult to pursue the path which provides them opportunity to develop and learn, gain valuable experiences, while facilitating their personal, wellness or life goals.