Supporting Your Child’s Future Career

Summer is a time many high school students and college graduates are looking for jobs.

As your student or grad becomes work-minded, this is a time to actively support them in their career pursuits. Our July blog series will provide guidance to support the young people in your life as they consider their future work.

The vast majority of parents want their child to be happy and succeed in reaching their career goals. Even with noble intentions, we often make some missteps as parents. Here are two of the most common:

Assuming our child will “figure it out.”

Many mid-life career changers find career transition and job search anxiety-provoking and stressful, even with a lifetime of experience to draw from.

According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey, the most commonly reported sources of stress for teens are school (83 percent) and getting into a good college or deciding what to do after high school (69 percent).

We can take an active, supportive role to help our children gain clarity.

Not taking the unique design of our kids into account when offering advice.

The advice that worked for our strengths, values, and preferences might not work well for our child’s. Here are a few examples:

  • Assuming our children should pursue traditional careers, such as an office job.
  • Assuming our child values career pursuits based on earning potential.
  • Expecting our child to attend a traditional four-year college when s/he might be better suited for vocational training in a specialized skill, such as welding or electrical work.
  • Expecting a child to follow in our footsteps, or take a similar path.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)

Since God prepared our work in advance, can we assume he also equipped us with specific gifts to pursue these good works? Scripture offers many examples to indicate that is the case. Varied gifts are given by God to serve others through our work.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, ESV)

So, how can you start to support your student to do good work?

Help them recognize and embrace their unique design.

Our talents fall into four categories:

  • Relating with people (showing empathy, positivity, investing or including others, finding common ground).
  • Influencing people (building alignment and getting people on the same page, moving people to action; accomplishing goals through people).
  • Executing to get results (achieving, organizing, planning, creating structure or process, being dependable).
  • Thinking (generating ideas, learning quickly, establishing a vision or strategy, analyzing, gathering and sharing information).

Your child’s natural talents set his or her priorities, just as your talents set yours!

If your child is a relator, s/he likely prioritizes relationships. Relators build one-on-one connections and like to work with people.

If your child is persuasive (competitive, confident, and has presence) s/he likely prioritizes influencing others. Influencers work through people and tend to prefer meeting a variety of new people. They will likely struggle with jobs heavily focused on execution, or that work apart from people.

If your student is an achiever, dependable, and organized s/he likely prioritizes tasks. They are likely doers, driven to get results, often as an individual contributor rather than leading others.

If your child is a thinker (through future thinking, learning, researching, etc.), s/he will likely prioritize work with complex mental challenge. Thinkers need time alone to process, plan, analyze, learn, strategize, and make decisions.

When you think about your gifts, do you think you have Relating, Influencing, Executing, or Thinking talents?

Consider how your talents are similar to your child’s and also how they differ. Parents and children with different talents can often experience conflict.

For example, a teen that is a strong thinker or relator can frustrate a task-oriented achieving parent who doesn’t understand why their child procrastinates on certain tasks. Assuming a teen is “lazy” is a common reaction, yet procrastination is avoidance. We tend to avoid things that aren’t a priority for us.

Tell stories about their gifts and talents

An idea for action is to home in on your child’s talents. Write 1-3 stories of a time your child made a positive impact or a time you observed them using a natural gift. Discuss your stories with your child and ask them to share their thoughts about the talent you shared. The following examples of natural talents will get you started:

  • Achiever – Likes to be busy and productive; hard-working
  • Caring – Knows how others are feeling; helpful, kind, inclusive, thoughtful
  • Competitive – Enjoys being the best, measurement-oriented, driven to win
  • Confident – Brave, self-assured, takes risks, doesn’t follow the crowd
  • Dependable – Quality work, ethical, reliable
  • Discoverer – Loves ideas, creative, curious
  • Future Thinker – Visionary, excited about the future, imaginative
  • Organizer – Likes structure, order, being on time; puts things where they belong
  • Presence – Draws people in; leader, get people’s attention
  • Relator – Genuine, loyal; a good friend

In our next blog post, we’ll share how to guide and advise students according to their values, rather than our own.

This post was written by Kristin Sherry.  Kristin is a member of the Crossroads Career Board of Directors.  She is the best selling author of YouMap & Your Team Loves Mondays…Right? She joined our board in 2019 and lives with her husband and 4 kids in North Carolina.

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