How to talk to young people about careers

How to talk to young people about careers

The dreaded career convo. It’s tense, it’s hard and it’s uncomfortable. I am sure any young person these days cringes at the thought of the career conversation with their parents. The daunting process of putting yourself out there, trying to fulfill your parent’s expectations and making sure you don’t lock yourself into soul-destroying career, are all completely normal fears that a young person thinks about in the modern age of careers.

So how, as parents, can we be more receptive and have open conversations with our children about what their future careers look like? Keep in mind these conversations are about their futures, not your own, and success to them may look very different from the vision you have for them or what success has looked like to you before.

Let’s explore some key tips for discovering these better-enabled conversations.

You don’t need to have it all figured out

Life is hard. Throw in COVID, rapid uncertainty and fast paced technology advancements during a young person’s formative years, and life only gets harder. We are more connected than ever before and having exposure to all the world at a rapid pace can create some overwhelming and understandably stressful pressures and anxiety for young people today. So let’s take it easy. There are so many more career options today than there were 5 or 10 years ago, being excited about the future with them will definitely lighten the mood and the room.

It’s better to focus on the next step instead of forever.

Let’s dial down the drama llama. Sometimes forecasting your future too far in advance can seem daunting and rigid. Focus on the next steps of where they want to follow their passion now. It might seem a little short-sighted but in reality, things change, goals change, and life changes. They can always change their goal posts and by allowing them room to breathe, move with the changing environment around them, will allow them to reach their success a lot sooner. Sometimes this can be a way to build up confidence and they might reassess what they want as they build their skills and knowledge. Having clear next steps guides them to better understanding of their future and allows room for problem-solving with you if their hearts and heads change direction.

Nurture their strengths.

Some are just gifted with numbers.

Some are passionate poets and linguists.

Some are just able to gun out a 5km run with no sweat.

Allowing them to really lean into their passion and what they excel in, will help them focus on a future that seems interesting and exciting. Keep in mind the skills they learn in the things they excel at are transferrable. If you can combine the things they enjoy outside of school with the things they excel at in school, this could help determine the list of careers they might be interested in pursuing.

Be curious, not judgemental

There was a time when everyone wanted to be an astronaut, and for most this may have been unattainable and scoffed at by friends and family. Let’s not repeat history with the same approach and mindset to their future.

Being open-minded about their career choice and using more discovery questions can really assist in better understanding their desires for their future and guides them to investigate further into their preferred industry.

Examples of discovery questions you can use:

  • What sort of tasks or jobs would you do in [specify career] role?
  • Is there career progression in that field if you want to develop your skills further?
  • What industry does this career align with?
  • Will you enjoy the working environment this career is suited to?

Remove barriers

So they want to be an electrician, but they don’t know what they need to get there. Reaching out to informed and connected organisations can really accelerate your child’s path to success. Talking to education providers who facilitate the training is important in ensuring they select the right subjects while in school and have the right mindset leading into that elusive apprenticeship application.

When you have all the correct details on application requirements, deadlines, and timeframes, it removes the stressors of your child reaching their goals. By reaching out to those organisations that can assist you, you are getting that extra level of support to navigate the messy and sometimes complicated systems. Not-for-profit organisations such as West North West Working, have a team of Local Engagement Officers located regionally, to better support our communities. It’s free and easy to book an appointment.

You can find WNWW details and the other regional jobs hubs in your area on our Contact page (Hyperlink Contact : )

Keep it casual

When we have complex or heavy conversations, the space in which we choose to have it can make a difference. Try not to make the conversation too formal. Sitting side-by-side or naturally bringing up the conversation while on a walk can make it more natural and relaxed. Hold a safe and supportive space for these conversations, it will make it a lot easier for them, and for you.

Look at it from their point of view. Sitting across someone over a table can feel more like an interrogation rather than an open discussion about careers.

You could even arrange to plan it in advance. Make time to go through the nitty-gritty details of what’s involved and task each other to do some research and reconvene to discuss in more detail what you both found.

Make sure to ask how you can assist and be transparent how you can support them.

Review and reflect on the why

We may not always agree on what our children want to do but being open-minded and supportive will mean they feel safe to make decisions about their future. By removing doubt and fear and providing a welcoming and open space about their careers can mean they will feel more inclined to talk to you if they change their career path goals or have the courage to talk about the scary stuff running through their minds. Be inquisitive about the changes but try to keep the judgment and assumptions out of it.

Understanding why they want to change and talking through it together allows them the freedom to choose to continue the same path or redirect their journey down a different avenue.

Remember there are plenty of services available to support you and your child through their job journey. If you are unsure where to begin or would like more information on employment and training options, reach out to our West North West Working team.