Help Your Teen Get Their Ideal Job

Whether you're a parent of a teen, a teacher or youth work professional, you are positioned in an important role. You have the influence and obligation to assist your teen to navigate their way from adolescence into young adulthood. With youth unemployment at high rates and soaring, follow these six steps to support your teen to not just find any job, but find the career path they want and are passionate about.


  1. Determine their aspirations. Ask them about their interests, what they like to do or are good at and even what their ideal or “perfect” job would be. This gets the teen talking about their favourite topic – themselves!
    • You can learn a lot from this conversation. What do their answers come back to the most? Is there a common theme or interest? Notice what goes on with them as they talk about these things. It's a great starting place, which then allows you to move onto the brainstorming step…
  2. Brainstorm. This is where the planning and goal setting stage happens. Encourage your teen to think big and ask “What if..?” Make it conversational, and suggest possible pathways you know, but don't force any onto your teen.
    • Rather, just make them aware of what's out there. Ask them to consider how best their skills could be used and what would be important to them in a job.
    • By now your teen has identified some possible career paths or jobs that could be stepping stones to where they want to be in the future. This then allows your teen to see the relevance in exploring various forms of education…
  3. Consider their readiness. Looking at where your teen is at academically, what would be the next best step for them? Perhaps just completing high school is the focus. However, if that is going well, then look at further education via University or TAFE. But if your teen is a hands-on learner, then think about apprenticeships or trainee-ships as an option.
    • By asking your teen what they know about different educational options, you will get a good idea of where their knowledge and enthusiasm is when it comes to the further development of their own learning.
    • From this conversation, your teen will tell you what they know and see the route to get where they want to be vocationally in the future. This is now the precursor for deciding the way forward in their learning journey…
  4. Start to build pathways. Connecting their interests with their ideal job and a possible educational pathway, it's now time to lay a foundation upon which your teen can build on. This could be University, TAFE, a short course, work experience, volunteering, learning on the job, etc.
    • Determine your teens preferred learning style and what their vision is for their own future. By now, they are piecing together the puzzle of work and education, beginning to see that making a choice is easier once they've considered what's most important to them.
    • Realizing that a job matching their interests is a possibility, there are educational pathways to get them there and a variety of ways to learn, they will now be ready to start moving in that direction…
  5. Encourage them to take action. This is where the teen picks their target and goes for it. It might involve applying for a job, enrolling in a course or both. It also involves what to do beyond the initial attainment of these goals, i.e. how to keep the job once they have it and how to manage their own learning experience once in a course.
    • Asking questions that give them a good insight into their strengths and weaknesses before they start will prepare your teen with the mindset they'll need to navigate their chosen direction. Questions like “What are your concerns and fears about job interviews? Is there anything holding you back from studying or working right now? How do you go at taking instructions and meeting deadlines?”
    • Before they even start, your teen can see how they will go in doing certain things. This prepares them mentally, giving them the confidence and ability to predict how they will handle various situations and the duration of time they will require of themselves to take each step. With a plan and a clear outcome in place, they'll have a better chance for…
  6. Help your teen to set goals and expectations that give them the best chance of success. Encourage them to choose a direction, emphasizing that everyone starts somewhere and where they begin won't necessarily be where they remain.
    • They may try many roads in their working and learning journey, but the important part is to simply start somewhere. Check in with them regularly around how well they understand their choices and pathway.
    • Remind your teen that once they've made it they still have to work to keep it; being responsible, committed and enthusiastic.