Inside: Learn why career planning can help your teen discover a career that’s a good for his unique talents and interests.
You might be asking what is career planning and why does my child need it? Let ‘s first talk about some common concerns. Are you afraid your child is never going to find something he is interested in? Do you worry about spending money on college or other training that he may drop out of or end up not needing?
I know these are a few of the fears parents can have because I have been there! On top of that, everyone you meet is asking what your teen wants to do. It adds a lot of unnecessary pressure and can make you and your child uncomfortable if he doesn’t have an answer.
I think it’s asking a lot for most teenagers to automatically know what career they’ll go into. They need to purposefully devote some time to figure out what they like. Many don’t instinctively know this
That’s why I recommend teens explore the area of career planning long before they graduate. The ACT even recommends starting in middle school. It can help them feel more comfortable when answering those dreaded questions and more importantly, have a significant impact on the path they pursue.
Career Planning for High School Students
Career planning is a process of self-discovery, which helps identify areas a student is interested in. Through a series of tests and checklists, he’ll discover his specific strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits.
Once he’s gathered this information, he can start exploring what careers are a good fit based on those results. This identifies the jobs he’s most likely to enjoy and excel in.
The final step in career planning is to set some goals and start preparing for the future.
Why Career Planning Is Important
When a student learns more about his abilities and personality, he’s better prepared to make informed decisions.
He has zeroed in on his talents and interests and can identify jobs he may be best suited for.
As he researches different occupations, he may discover careers he didn’t know about before. He’ll also know for sure if college, trade school, or an apprenticeship is necessary, rather than blindly entering college with an undecided major and rack up thousands of dollars in debt.
Career Planning Benefits
Students who take the time to do career planning have a much clearer sense of direction. They may not have pinned down exactly what they want to do, but they will at least know what they are and aren’t good at and be better able to identify a potential fit.
They are also going to be more motivated in their studies when they are learning about something they are interested in. This is going to increase their confidence and therefore, optimize their chances for success.
Parents benefit financially when they don’t have to pay for more schooling than is necessary. They can feel good about the decisions being made because they weren’t done on a whim and feel confident their child is heading in the right direction.
Steps to Career Planning
I am going to cover eight specific steps your child can take for strategic career planning.
1. Asking for God’s Direction
If your child is a Christian, he should first be praying and seeking God’s direction for his life. No matter what he decides to do, if it is not God’s will, he is not going to have the success he should. Teaching your child to seek God first before making decisions is the most critical part of this.
2. Talents and Interests
There are a lot of free tools you can search for on the internet which your student can use to help him find out what he is and isn’t good at. He may be surprised at some of the results he gets. Searching for and taking different interest inventories is an excellent way to hone in on his specific skill sets needed for certain careers.
3. Personality Assessments
We can learn a lot from personality tests. I find these fascinating, and there’s a good chance your child will too. If he takes them seriously, he is going to find out a wealth of information about himself. This is the information that is going to make certain types of careers stand out, and help him pick occupations that fit his personality. Knowing these traits can help explain what drives him and find a job he enjoys.
Search on Google for free personality tests. There should be several that come up. Just make sure you find one that will give the 4-letter personality type and a decent description of what that means.
4. Career Categories
Based on your student’s results, he needs to look at websites showing the different career categories that are grouped together based on whether individuals like to work with data, people, things, or ideas. This enables him to pinpoint jobs that are aligned with his interests, talents, and personality.
5. Creating Potential Career Lists
While learning about these occupations, your child will develop a list of potential ones that interest him or fit with the results of his assessments. During this process, he should list everything he finds, even if he has no idea what it is. These are all possibilities he should learn about.
6. Digging Deeper
At this point, your child should have a fairly developed list of possible jobs he needs to research. He may start to see certain ones listed over and over. These are the ones he especially needs to pay attention to.
Using websites, books, college course guides, and the library, he’ll dig deeper into each one on his list. He needs to find the job descriptions, what skills are required, the outlook for the future of the occupations, the average income, the education needed, and any other relevant information to better understand these careers.
7. Getting First-Hand Experience
When your child completes the research, he should select all the possible jobs he’s most interested in. From that list, he needs to choose the top three fields he would like to investigate further. He’s going to set up some interviews and even shadow some people at work to see which ones really resonate with him.
He can list all the facts he wants and think a career is right for him, but talking to someone who does it or going to seeing it in person can shed a whole new light on it.
It’s important he also considers jobs he was neutral on, meaning he didn’t hate them, but wasn’t sure he’d like them. Experiencing them in person may be completely different from what he thought and can change his mind.
Your teen will need to come up with a list of questions for the interview. He can find friends, family members, or just call up businesses to get a contact person to interview. It can be conducted in person, over the phone, or by email.
Conducting these in person is probably the best way because a face-to-face conversation can lead to other questions and a better understanding, but that’s not always possible.
After completing the interviews, he needs to choose one or two people he’d like to shadow. This can be for just an hour or two or a whole day. However long, it’s going to be the most valuable method of learning about a career, and he’ll walk away with a much better understanding of what’s required of a person in that position.
8. Goal Setting and Future Planning
By interviewing and shadowing, your child will most likely figure out what he likes and doesn’t like and will be able to choose something that really interests him.
Does this mean your child has determined the exact job he’s going to be in for the rest of his life after doing this? Probably not.
How many adults do you know that have changed careers later in life? The job market is a different situation now than it was many years ago. People change from one career to another or the businesses themselves change.
The important thing is because your teen now has a greater understanding of all the areas he excels in and how his personality matches with specific skills, he can be flexible and easily move into another area if necessary. There is more than one job a person can do. His skills will overlap into different areas.
It’s always scary thinking about spending money on college or trade school, but this process should help increase the chances of your child actually sticking with a program.
Something else to consider is whether your child should take a gap year to continue examining occupations if nothing surfaced during this time. This could also be used as an opportunity to do an internship to solidify his choice before officially enrolling somewhere.
Now it’s time to begin planning for the future. Through the research, your child should’ve learned what education or certifications are required to enter into his field of choice.
He should begin looking at:
- The different colleges, trade schools, or apprenticeships that are available to him.
- What high school courses are a prerequisite?
- Are there specific skills that would give him an advantage?
- Can he intern over the summer at a local business?
- Are there online courses offered that he can get dual credits for?
- Can he attend training or camps on this particular subject?
You can streamline his high school courses and electives in the direction needed to prepare him for this career. That’s the great thing about homeschooling! You can pick and choose your curriculum to meet the needs of your children. He will be ahead of the game when starting because he has already been building a foundation.
Here is a video talking about the steps in career planning.
Career Exploration Worksheets
My goal was to answer the question about what is career planning and I hope you have found this article helpful. It can take a lot of time looking for all the different sites and information required to go through the process of career planning.
I’ve created some Career Exploration Worksheets to help your teen do this. This career planner includes links to assessments as well as a variety of forms that’ll be used to research and record the findings.
Why would I want to buy these?
- Feel confident your child is learning to determine what the best occupations are for his unique characteristics
- Have the peace of mind that your teen will discover information about himself to make wise choices about his future
- Have a better understanding of your child’s personality and how to use it to his advantage
- You will have a wealth of information to use as an education planner for high school courses
- It’s a time-saver because the work is already done for you
- You can use this as an elective course for credits
- Your student can do this independently because it is laid out in a format this is easy to follow
All for only $14.99!
Help your teen prepare for job interviews. Download my practice questions to give him confidence!