Talking careers with your young person

A mother and daughter talking on a couch

Deciding which career path to take can be a challenge. Find out how to help your young person explore their future career.

Before your young person can decide which career path to take, they need to understand themselves and what excites them in life. You can help with this self-discovery. How you talk careers with them can have a big impact on their future decisions.

Five tips for supporting your young person

Choosing what to do when leaving school can be stressful, so taking a supportive approach helps.

  1. Many young people don’t respond well to being told what to do – instead listen and help them talk about their options.
  2. Young people’s career choices start at school – learn more about what they need to consider when leaving school so you can give good advice.
  3. Young people need time to make a good decision – don’t panic if they haven’t decided on a career yet. They may want to work until they find a career that suits them.
  4. Your young person’s ideas may be different from yours – let them choose their career.
  5. Understand that technology is changing careers – your young person may be considering a job that didn’t exist a couple of years ago. Be open to their choices and do some research.

Step-by-step guide to chatting about careers

Talking careers with your young person is best when you’re both relaxed.

  1. Start with a general talk about their day, sports and hobbies.
  2. Ask questions about which subjects they like, their interests, values and what they think they’re good at.
  3. Give positive feedback. Share what you see are some of their strengths.
  4. Explore your young person’s answers further – would they like a career that’s related to their subjects and interests?
  5. Discuss what your young person wants from life. Attitudes towards money, working life, challenges and career enjoyment may help identify career options.
  6. If your young person has a career dream in mind, talk more about this. What do they know about how to get into this career?
  7. If they are unsure about getting into their chosen career, or is worried they don’t know what they want to do, reassure them. Offer to help them research their options.

How to talk about careers after the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption worldwide, with many people losing their jobs. This makes it hard when young people are planning their careers. You could:

  • reassure your young person that it's normal to feel unsure about the future
  • tell them that the job outlook for their chosen career may change once they've finished their study
  • show them industries that need workers.

Encourage young people with career stories

Our Careers NZ YouTube channel is packed with career stories – from learners talking about how they chose what to study to learners on work experience trying out careers.

Keep in mind that we may change jobs many times in our life. Your young person may need time and experience in the world of work before they settle on a career path that is right for them.

Related article

Helping your young person match subjects, talents and interests to career ideas

Mother and daughter read a laptop screen

Finding a career for your young person is a matching game. Get tips on how to match talents, interests and strengths with career ideas.

Updated 8 Jul 2020