How can you help your son/daughter make career decisions?

Research says that parents have the most influence on a young person’s career choice.

From direct influence in-terms of their views on different career options and advice they give to their sons and daughters to indirectly through the careers that they themselves have chosen.

However, not all parents feel confident giving their child careers advice and information. Professional careers advisers are certainly worth talking to, but what can you do yourself to help your son or daughter make good career decisions?

Believe in yourself

You know your offspring better than anyone and obviously have a vested interest in helping them choose a rewarding career, so believe in yourself and the advice you give. To help you understand what that advice could be, here are some practical ways you can find out more about current and future careers, and how to help your son/daughter figure out themselves what they might be interested in.

Talk to your son/daughter. Work out what is important to them by asking questions about their interests, skills and values and how these could relate to a career choice.

Help them gather information. Visit careers websites; go to Careers Fairs, talk to family and friends about what they do for a career. Find out who is the Career Lead at school and talk to them.

Investigate work-experience opportunities. Work-experience, work shadowing and volunteering are great ways to see people in their working environment and to understand more about their roles. Some important questions to ask someone about their job could be:

  • what they do on a day to day basis,
  • why they chose to do this specific job,
  • what qualifications/training they needed,
  • what they like most/least about their work.

Encourage them to take part in personal development activities. Programmes such as National Citizen Service, Duke of Edinburgh, Scouts and Cadets all help to develop self-belief and confidence, making young people feel more positive about the future.

Finally, remind yourself that career choice is a personal decision. Long gone are the days when a person would stay in one job for the rest of their life. Careers are fluid so your son or daughter may change their ideas several times too.

Exposure to careers information, people working in different sectors and roles, and finding opportunities for work-experience, work-shadowing or volunteering will make all the difference.

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