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How Can I Help My Daughter Figure Out Her Career Path?

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Dear Daily Slog,

‘My daughter is 16 and has just finished transition year. She did some work experience placements this year to help figure out the career path she would like to pursue but she hasn’t quite settled on any course and says she doesn’t feel particularly passionate about any subject area.

I know she is so young and that it takes most people years to figure out what they want but I would like to offer her practical advice and let her see the myriad career options out there. When we were at school we weren’t given much insight into careers outside of the traditional ones – how can I help her see the bigger picture and work out what’s right for her?’

 

Dear Reader,

It’s been said that students have the world at their feet. What a daunting thought!

Endless choices and intense pressure to choose a career can mean a very confusing and stressful experience when it comes to answering the question “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”.

Some people almost seem like they are born with a particular career path that they are heading towards. But, more often than not, students, graduates and other young people don’t have a fixed and focused idea of which career path is the right one for them.

If your daughter is unsure about which way to go then taking some time to get to know more about herself is a good first step. The amount of options can be completely overwhelming, especially when you don’t know where to start, but with some support and guidance she should be able to narrow down the field and work out what’s right for her.

 

It’s exceptionally important that you have recognised that this is her choice – one where you support her but not direct her.

 

It is important that students take the time to discover who they are, what they value, what they like to do and what they’re naturally good at. It’s also exceptionally important that you have recognised that this is her choice – one where you support her but not direct her.

Every student needs to discover the right career direction for them and follow a path that they want and choose rather than one that is chosen for them.

I’m going to outline a process that your daughter should follow, one which I find particularly useful with students and one which I hope will help you to guide your daughter to figure out what’s right for her.

 

Whether we realise it or not, our career choice tends to be based on values rather than the actual work itself.

 

What’s important to you?

Your values are what is important to you in life. Knowing your values helps you understand what drives you – what you enjoy, inspires you and would like more of.

By building a career around our values we create a life that is more satisfying and meaningful to us. Whether we realise it or not, our career choice tends to be based on values rather than the actual work itself.

Values are the beliefs, attitudes and judgments we hold as most important to us. They are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.

Identify your career values under each of the following three headings:

  1. Intrinsic Values – These are the intangible rewards, those related to motivation and satisfaction at work on a daily basis. They provide the inner satisfaction and motivation that make people say, “I love getting up and going to work!”. For example, do you like to help others? Do you like to feel respected for your work? Do you like to feel intellectually challenged? Do you like to use physical skills and abilities?
  2. Extrinsic Values – These are the tangible rewards or conditions you find at work, including the physical setting, job titles, benefits and earnings/earning potential. For example, do you want to work indoors or outdoors? Do you want to earn as much money as possible? Do you want to have power and influence? Do you want to have regular work hours or flexibility?
  3. Lifestyle Values – These are the personal values associated with how and where you want to live, how you choose to spend your leisure time and how you feel about money. For example, do you want to travel and holiday at expensive resorts? Do you want to live close to your family? Do you want to live in a big city or in the country?

 

Identifying career skills & personal strengths

The next step is to identify what skills and strengths you already have, what skills and strengths you would like to learn and what skills you think you would be good at. Make sure you are honest with yourself about what skills and strengths you believe you have or would be good at given the opportunity to learn them.

Google a list of skills and strengths and circle the ones which you believe you have already. Repeat the exercise for skills and strengths you’d like to learn and think you would be good at. Make a “top 10” list of both these lists to identify those most important to you.

 

If you can, find someone who is already in that career area and see if you can ask them some questions. Most people are very happy to sit with a student and talk about their career.

 

Psychometric assessments & your career interests

Psychometric assessments are designed to provide an in-depth understanding of your interests, motivation and personality. The results and feedback can provide great insight into who you are, what you like and what drives you, which can be invaluable information when it comes to choosing the right career for you.

Career assessments act as a tool to help you gain a greater level of understanding of yourself and guide you in the right direction, towards your ultimate goal of attaining what it is you want from this life.

There are some free psychometric tests online but more often than not you will need to pay for them. You can do them yourself online or you can make an appointment to meet with a professional and qualified psychometric tester who will choose the right ones for you and guide you through them.

 

Write down all the positive and negative aspects that you can see with each of your future career options.

 

I’d recommend starting with finding an online assessment for free or for a small fee, such as one which uses the scientific Holland Code model to show you which jobs will suit your interests, talents, and aptitude.

If you feel that you benefited from this, then look for a qualified career coach and / or psychometric test user who will be able to help you delve deeper into the wide range of psychometric assessments available to support your search for your ideal career.

Completing psychometric assessments will have identified specific career areas which “match” your values, career skills, personal strengths, interests, personality and motivation. 

 

The right fit.

Once you have gathered all of this information, it’s important to evaluate everything you’ve learnt so far.

For each of the identified specific career areas that match who you are and ones you have chosen to pursue, you will need to conduct further research to ensure that they are a “real” option for you.

This is the Reality Check. It’s all very well saying that your dream career is to be a Doctor if you hate studying and don’t want to go to college! You can research entry requirements for most careers online which will help you decide whether your dream career can become a reality.

After the reality check, it’s time to explore each of your specific career areas to narrow down the focus, helping you to make a final decision. If you can, find someone who is already in that career area and ask if you can talk to them to ask them some questions. Most people are very happy to sit with a student and talk about their career in an effort to support them to make the right choice.

 

Of course you might get it wrong, but after putting in so much thought and effort into it, you’re much more likely to have made a well informed decision that reflects who you are as a person.

 

Also try out a career visualisation to see if you can see yourself in each of the specific career areas. Try to imagine a day in the life of each of the jobs you’ve chosen as possibilities.

Don’t hold back on the detail; try to imagine every little thing. Now describe to someone or write down your ideal day at work. Does it match what you’re thinking of? Does it match your values, skills and interests? Do you enjoy what you’re doing? How did it make you feel? Excited, nervous, overwhelmed, happy?

Write down all the positive and negative aspects that you can see with each of your future career options.

 

The hard part…

Finally it’s time to evaluate all the information, narrow down the focus and make the decision. As with any other major life decision, this is the hard part.

Of course there is a possibility that you might get it wrong, but after putting in so much thought and effort into it, you’re much more likely to have made a well informed decision that reflects who you are as a person, what you want from life and your skills, abilities, interests and motivations.

Once you’ve made this decision, commit to it and create a career goal and a plan to achieve this.

What’s important now, is that you believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your chosen career.

 

Other great articles from Jennifer Davies:

Managing millennials: “I’m tired of mediating the office drama”

What is the best way to manage someone out of a company?

Can you really trust your HR department? 

About the Author

Jennifer Davies is a HR Consultant, Career Coach & Owner of Captured HR Consultancy based in Cork, Ireland. For more information on her services visit www.CapturedHR.ie

Jennifer Davies Captured HR

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