6 Tips for Having Meaningful Conversations with Your Teen about Career Choices

As your child journeys through secondary school, they’re likely to become more curious about their next educational steps and what their future holds. Leaving school and stepping into the world of work is an exciting time but can also be overwhelming for many teenagers. So, while employment might be a few years away, starting meaningful conversations about career possibilities now can help ease any fears your child might have and create a clearer path.

Here are our top tips on how you and your teen navigate this important journey together...

  1. Discover Their Interests

Discussing your teen’s interests is a great starting point for exploring career possibilities. This not only opens their minds to what’s available to them, but also reassures them that it’s entirely possible to find work that’s enjoyable and fulfilling. Once they grasp this idea, career conversations can become much more engaging and far less daunting.

Encourage your teen to think about what they like and dislike. If they enjoy writing, it could be easier for them to gather their ideas on paper, or perhaps draw a mind map if they’re more visual. Prompt them to think about their subjects at school. Is there a particular subject that they excel at? Are there any that they love (or loathe)? Another area to explore is their hobbies. Perhaps, they have an interest outside of school that could transfer to the workplace, for example, if they enjoy going to the cinema, encourage them to explore what careers might be available to them in the film industry.

  1. Focus on Your Teen’s Strengths

If your teen is struggling to think about what they enjoy or how their hobbies can be applied to the workplace, you can start by looking at their strengths. They might be a brilliant communicator, an amazing listener or have excellent attention to detail. Suggest more general fields of employment such as care services and see if anything stands out to them.

Highlighting your child’s strengths can also boost their confidence, especially if they haven’t found a hobby or sport they love. Affirm to them that there is nothing wrong with not having discovered a passion or their ‘thing’ and rather, their future career can be developed from their soft skills as opposed to a specific interest.

  1. Discuss Opportunities

Another approach to discussing careers with your teen is to explore what local opportunities are already available to them. In your area, there might be a high demand for specific professions, or perhaps you have a family business that they could join in some capacity. It’s a good idea to pose these as helpful suggestions and options to consider, rather than directions they should follow.

  1. Help with CV Building

If your teen has their National Insurance Number and wants to start looking at part-time roles alongside their education, they’re going to need a CV. Return to your previous discussions about their skillset, encouraging them to think about what would be most relevant to the role they’re applying for. You might also want to suggest they consider any other achievements in or outside of school.

While their CV will be updated continually as they gain more skills and experience before starting their first full-time position, it’s great for them to have a starting point. Creating a CV is also a good way to help them prepare for promoting themselves to potential employers, which is a good skill to have.

  1. Suggest a Careers Advisor

As a working parent, your insight and support is invaluable. However, you may wish to point your teen in the direction of a careers advisor to provide professional guidance. Their school or college may offer this service, so it’s worthwhile enquiring.

As well as knowing the current job market, a careers advisor could also be able to connect your child with potential future employers and other valuable contacts. They’ll also be able to suggest any amendments to their CV from an employer’s perspective, or advise on what subjects and courses to pursue in order to increase their chances of employment in that field.

  1. Avoid Adding Pressure

Navigating the teenage years can be tough, without the added pressure of having to think about the years ahead. Try to keep conversations open, allowing your child to communicate on their terms. Avoid adding pressure by asking closed questions or suggesting they must make any immediate decisions or should already be set on a career.

Every teen has different expectations of what work will be like. Perhaps your child is excited for the next stage of their life, but others may be feeling worried about leaving school behind. As a parent, the best thing you can do is to offer your support and manage your expectations. Your teen doesn’t need to have everything figured out and by pointing them in the right direction, the workplace might not look quite as scary, after all.