As parents and carers, you can play an important role in encouraging your child to explore career ideas and plan for the future
It’s highly likely that they will feel unsure of what job they might like to do and be confused by the range of choices and opportunities available. Even if they already have specific job idea in mind, they may still be unclear about the path to get there. Whatever their situation, by supporting them to follow the steps below, you can help clarify their thinking and start to plan for the future.
Start with some self-reflection
Help your child gain a better understanding of who they are, where they are right now and what is important to them in a job. Encourage them to answer the following questions to take stock of their interests, strengths, skills and motivations:
- What am I passionate about? What subjects do I enjoy/dislike? Are there any specific topics within a subject I especially enjoy studying? What are my interests in my spare time?
- What am I good at doing? Which subjects am I strong in? How do I learn best?
- What skills do I already have? Try to list your skills and then think about which ones you most enjoy using.
- What do I want from my career? What is important to me? (e.g. money, challenge, fulfilment, security, job satisfaction, success, travel, status etc.)
- What sort of work environment would suit me? (e.g. indoors/outdoors, office/active, team or independent work)
They can also try the Buzz Quiz, which is a short online quiz that identifies the respondent’s personality type and which job areas typically suit people with these traits.
Encourage career possibilities exploration
There are a number of excellent websites providing up-to-date and impartial information and advice that young people can use to research job sectors and roles of interest. The following free to access websites are recommended in particular:
All of these sites include a range of detailed job profiles outlining key information such as responsibilities, qualifications and skills needed, pay and career prospects. They also have information on which jobs relate to a particular subject, and, if your child is struggling for initial ideas, contain tools which suggest potential job ideas or job sectors based on stated skills, interests, motivations and personality. When using these websites, urge your child to be open-minded to new career possibilities, rather than dismissing certain jobs or sectors without giving them any real consideration.
Encourage your child to take up any available opportunities for work experience, work shadowing and voluntary work. These can give valuable insights into a job or industry of interest before making any further commitment. Students will also gain practical skills in a working environment, increase their network of connections and potentially even gain paid work as a result.
Support with decision making and future planning
You may be able to help your child to compile a shortlist of those jobs that are of most interest. Use their answers to the earlier questions to help assess the level of ‘fit’ with these jobs. Do they have the right skills, qualities, interests and temperament for the role? Do they have or expect to get the right qualifications? Does it correspond with their preferences in terms of pay, working conditions, training and career development?
Encourage them to take plenty of time to make a decision, rather than rushing the process or making a snap choice based on a particular piece of information they’ve read or heard. Writing down key points and preferences can help to clarify and make sense of things, as can reading and reflecting back on the information gathered about job ideas over a period of time. If they are able to move towards a decision they feel comfortable with, it is also beneficial to write an action plan. This will set out short and long-term goals and the steps your child needs to take to achieve them. This plan will need to be reviewed regularly, with new information added and changes made if needs be. Staff from school/college (such as a careers adviser) will be able to support your child with this.
Lastly, it is really important to understand that job ideas are likely to change and develop over time as your child has new experiences, learns new things and meets new people. As such, it is important that they take a flexible approach in terms of career planning and decision making.