career readiness skills checklist for parents

What do parents and families need to know about career readiness? A lot! While many states and school districts have established career readiness programs tied to specific academic achievement, course planning, and career readiness standards, here are 10 things parents can do to make sure students have what it takes to succeed in the world of work – well in advance of that first “real” job.


1) Planning 

Be supportive, but let them take the lead on making plans for life after high school. Encourage your child to explore careers. Help them narrow down options by leveraging Kuder Navigator® to view a list of occupations that align with their interests, skills confidence, and work values. Is your child seriously considering careers that require a college degree? Are they more likely to head straight into the workforce? What’s their plan? Perhaps technical college, community college, a four-year college or university, or the military? College-bound students need to prep for college entrance exams, learn about and apply for financial aid, and plan college visits. When the time comes to apply, they'll need to stay on top of deadlines and tasks and keep up with communications from prospective colleges.

2) Employability

Open their eyes to what it takes to be employable. Help your child gain an understanding of what employers expect of an employee. More people are fired because they don’t practice good work habits (steady attendance, being on time, getting along with management and co-workers) than because they can’t do the tasks required in the job. These are the skills that today’s employers are seeking:

  • Collaboration: Because it’s how work is accomplished in teams.
  • Critical Thinking: Because it takes sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems.
  • Creativity: Because it spurs progress and innovation and it’s a key driver in the global economy.
  • Communication: Because it’s more important than ever to express thoughts, ideas, and opinions clearly and effectively, both in speaking and writing.

3) Work Ethic

Make it mandatory that they get some form of work experience now. Developing a strong work ethic goes hand-in-hand with 21st century skills, and the best place to gain these skills is in a work setting. Whether it’s a part-time job squeezed into the margins of their weeks, a summer job, internship, or apprenticeship, integrating some kind of work experience (preferably more than one) during high school will help give students sense of what it means to be employed.

4) Networking

Be their partner in networking. Networking is the best way to get a job, so encourage your child to establish one of their own through school, extracurriculars, part-time jobs, and internships. Spread the word in your own professional network, or even members of your family and circle of friends, and ask if any of them would be willing to share information with your child about their career paths.

5) Financial Literacy

Show them why money matters, and how to manage it. Financial literacy equips students with essential skills they need to begin managing their own money once they start earning a paycheck. The Finance 101 curriculum in Navigator is a great place to start. It includes modules on banking, checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and the benefits and drawbacks of loans.

6) Goal Setting

Foster the habit of setting goals. It can begin with asking your child something as simple as, “write down one thing you want to accomplish.” Have them start with long-term goals, then ask them to answer the following questions:

  • Where am I now?
  • Where do I want to be?
  • What have I already achieved?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • Who can help hold me accountable so that I can reach my goals?

7) Time Management

Arm them with effective time management techniques. Whether they’re using Google Calendar, a family scheduling app, or a combination that includes the school’s course management system or digital planner to manage their academic, extracurricular activities, and social activities, get your student in sync and organized. Discuss the basics of time management and the importance of making to-do lists, prioritizing, setting reminders and timers, scheduling time for work and play, and meeting deadlines.

8) Social Emotional Learning

Find ways to support their social emotional learning. It's more important than ever for today's students. Help your child work through the problems they encounter – rather than doing the work for them. Social emotional competencies include self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness. 

9) Job Interview Prep

Help them build a brag sheet, resume, and portfolio – and show them how to make a good impression. A brag sheet is helpful for students who will be seeking letters of recommendation from school faculty members. It should be an accurate reflection of a student’s attributes. A brag sheet can also come in handy when filling out college/job applications. The next step is to build a resume. The Resume Builder in Navigator makes it easy to put one together relatively quickly because the system takes care of the formatting. Developing a portfolio is another item on a student's must-do list. Navigator’s e-portfolio is a convenient place where students can save and showcase digital artifacts. To be truly interview-ready, be sure to stage some mock interviews. 

10) Perseverance

Remind them that career development is a lifelong process. No matter what age or stage they're at in life, they'll need to keep at it. Encourage them to seek support and encouragement along the way from you and others who care about them. Now is the time to build a foundation for success so they can get where they want to go in life.  

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About The Author

Amy Khokhar

Amy Khokhar serves as editor of the Kuder Blog. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Colby College and is a National Career Development Association Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) and Certified Career Services Provider (CCSP).

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