Giving careers advice: Tips from the pros
Does your teenager hide behind their phone whenever you mention careers advice? It’s hard to win their attention from Snapchat, but career choice is one of the most important decisions they’ll ever make.
Here are some tricks from leading career coach Louise Rochford of Louise Rochford Careers Consultancy to get them to listen to you – and make sure you’re sharing the right advice.
Louise recommends getting ahead with career planning. Schools often don’t offer one-to-one careers sessions until Year 11, when it can be too late to benefit. “Encourage your son or daughter to think about ways to progress from at least the May half-term of Year 10,” she says. Starting the process even earlier — in Year 8 or 9 — will give them more time to think about and research their options.
Before choosing a career, Louise recommends your teenager first works out who they are and what motivates them. Then they can discover which careers will best suit their personality, and how to pursue them. Careers websites have personality tests such as the buzz quiz on icould.com (https://icould.com/buzz/), and some schools have careers software like Cascaid and eClips — ask the school for access.
Take advantage of all possible resources, even the most unlikely ones – favourite TV shows and books can help young people research areas that interest them. Talking to as many people as possible is a great use of time. “Is it possible for your son or daughter to chat with friends and family about what they do?” suggests Louise. “Or even better, some work experience or shadowing.”
There is so much careers advice out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Louise suggests the ‘STAR’ technique: • Be Specific about what you want to find out. • Set yourself a few Tasks for each research session. • Make notes along the way — this is your Action. • Then come to your Result, which should be to organise your notes and discuss your findings. “Write out any questions you have, and decide who can help you answer these: a career adviser, teacher, or further research,” says Louise. “Having a Result at the end of each session will make you and your teen feel they’ve achieved something.”
“As a schools careers adviser, I find it really helpful for parents to attend one-to-one careers appointments with their son or daughter,” says Louise. “If their school doesn’t offer this, ask! Do some research beforehand and make a list of questions to take with you.”
“It doesn’t matter if they don’t know what they want to do,” says Louise. “It’s about choosing the right pathway. If you’re not sure what you want to do, it’s probably best not to rush into an apprenticeship at 16. As long as their voyage of discovery continues to teach them about themselves, and what their skills qualities and strengths are, they can use this to make informed choices later, as they embark on their chosen route to employment.”
“Don’t push your ideas on them,” says Louise. “No one should be telling a student what they should or shouldn’t do with their future. Instead give them the tools to make that decision for themselves.” Louise continues, “Many parents think A-levels will get their child the best job in the future, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Dispel myths with research or by asking a professional. There are lots of misconceptions out there, such as people assuming engineering is all hard hats and dirty fingernails.”