Parents: How to Prepare Your Student for a Successful Career

My employer is involved with the innovative Omaha Chamber of Commerce, a dynamic organization impacting lives daily. I have the rare privilege in a week or so via their growing CareerRockit program of speaking to high school students about preparing for their future careers. Some presenters are speaking from a particular industry perspective or specific employer point of view. I am speaking as an executive recruiter and my own experience in getting to this point in my career (and it’s my best job yet, by the way!) Here are a few things that may spark or fuel some conversation over a meal with your young family members or while traveling to their scheduled practice.

Do What You Love and Work Won’t Feel Like Work

Ask your student what they are passionate about. What would they like to change about the world? What things did they think were FUN to do as a child? These natural inclinations and interests drive the inner self of a teen and, when allowed to grow and flourish, will result in joy and contentment on an ongoing basis – and ultimately job satisfaction. If your young adult is a high-energy individual who looks forward to getting an allowance, often asks to find out how to earn more, loves to socialize, and you see them directing others (you may have interpreted this as being bossy), perhaps your child is a natural-born salesperson or manager. Or, do you have a child who is a hoarder of money, perhaps collects coins, and has a natural aptitude at math? A high-demand career in accounting and finance may be in his/her future. On the other hand, your child may be a more quiet observer and the peacemaker around the house who has a heart that is drawn to animals and always seems to be helping friends with various problems (texting long into the night with friends). Well, you could have a budding social worker, healthcare provider, or counselor. These natural personality traits should guide a student and drive their career path. Look and listen for these innate tendencies by observing and talking – and, yes, encouraging.

Approaches to a Career Path

Have fun vs. make a lot of money? This doesn’t have to be the choice but it often is. Ideally, a young person will find balance between the two. If change is fun to them (frequently expressing “I’m bored!”), they may have many employers over the course of their career as they explore new challenges and advance upward with each position. Or they may enjoy settling in with one employer and mastering the position as he/she grows with the company. Either approach is fine and will provide long-term financial stability. You most likely can identify these tendencies early in life and use them to guide your career advice. Accept the fact that your child may not have the same drive for financial success as you do – happiness may be of more importance to them. As long as they are able to support themselves and live a lifestyle within their means, they will be successful. Share this article with your teen about how much they need to earn.

Higher Education? Yes, YES, and YES!!!!

In my personal experience and professional life, I know that today’s employers are looking for candidates who have put in the time and discipline of obtaining a level of higher education. Yes, that piece of paper matters! In my role as an executive recruiter, pretty much every job order has at least a degree requirement, if not MBA as well. And young adulthood is the time to get this out of the way rather than thinking a degree can be pursued later. Here’s why waiting won’t work. Today’s employers utilize online HR software that acts as a vetting mechanism for candidates. There is going to be a section on an application about education. If this section lacks higher education, the applicant will be most likely automatically eliminated from consideration without an opportunity to share who they really are and what they bring to the table with the hiring manager. Encourage your young person to pursue education beyond high school as their next employer will be looking for it on their application and resume. Is this fair? In my opinion, I don’t think it is but it is today’s reality due to technology. I think experience trumps education every time, but in lieu of experience give your student the advantage of being able to check that college degree box. Many employers aren’t as concerned about the type of degree, with the exception of more specialized advanced careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Even if the career desire of your student is not in those areas, encourage them to invest their time in certifiable education beyond high school. Also encourage your student to network, network, network. This will go a long way until they have completed their degree – and again, nothing compares to building a network of successful people who can assist as they move forward in their career. Here is an article to share with your child as you both prepare to finance their education.

Present Your Best Self – Readable Resumes

Short and concise is the advice I provide to my candidates as a recruiter. Rather than listing page after page of the duties performed, focus on the accomplishments made while you were at an employer. This is what resonates with a hiring manager, whether a CEO or coffee shop manager. Impacts made in efficiencies, reducing expenses, or increasing revenue is what makes an impression. I recommend no more than two pages for a resume with just a few bulleted accomplishments below each employer listing. The idea is to get the reader’s attention in a matter of minutes so that he/she’ll be interested enough to schedule an interview to learn more.

Brenda Adams
Brenda is an energetic professional who combines her broad sales/marketing/management experience into bringing top talent to great employers across the U.S. In her role as an Executive Recruiter for Aureus Group, she considers herself a matchmaker of sorts and is driven to build a relationship so deep that she instantly recognizes the perfect candidate for a company match. Years of experience as a hiring manager provide her particular insight into the challenges that her clients face with staffing. Her human capital/talent management background provides exceptional insight into employee engagement and the importance of a perfect job fit for lasting whole-life satisfaction. Brenda is excited to leverage her years of success and experience to give back and make life easier for both job seekers and employers of all industries and disciplines.


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