What Children Can Teach Us About Career Management, Part 1

Girl walking barefoot on white spheresSometimes we make life harder than it needs to be. Perhaps keeping it simple and being more intuitive can put us on the right path for being successful.

In being a mom, I have learned many lessons about the job search and career management through my children:

1) Kids are not afraid to ask for help.

It’s a tragedy that asking for help is something that gets programmed out of us as we get older. Yes, it’s important to be able to stand on your own two feet, but there are some situations that call for outside help. Job loss and the subsequent job search are two examples.

Ask for help with proofreading your résumé, on preparing for interviews, with networking, in processing what is happening and what this job loss means for you. There is no shame in tapping your family, friends, and other people in your network for help. If you have been a resource for others when building your relationships, they will be glad to assist you in your time of need. All you have to do is ask!

2) Children know their strengths and interests.

I have two kids — my daughter is four and my son is two. As a mom, I have given them opportunities to experience a variety of activities and have let them play with whatever toys suited their tastes. I’ve encouraged them to try out all sorts of toys. And how has it all played out up to this point? Pretty much right down the stereotypical gender lines.

My daughter is emotional, talkative, and very nurturing. She has always gravitated to toys that allow her to be a caregiver of some sort (playing mommy, cooking on a play kitchen, etc.) She also loves the expressiveness of music; hence dancing and singing are two of her favorite activities. She feels a need to discuss what she is doing and to question “Why, why, why?” Once in a while, she will be introspective, but mostly she like to be with people and talk. A lot. 🙂

And my son? Totally opposite. He is much more into doing stuff — building towers with blocks and Duplos, throwing and kicking balls, climbing (and scaring the heck out of me!) His favorite toys have always been his beloved trucks. He will scoop them up and run all over the place holding onto them. As young as 12 months, my husband would take him to the local implement store to look at the tractors and other big machinery, and our son would start grunting like a mini Tim Taylor!

I bring this up to illustrate that both of my children are experiencing exactly what they want in their young lives based on their strengths and interests, and it makes them happy.

As adults, we all have obligations to pay our bills and such, and yes, we need to be responsible for that. However, one significant component of a great job fit is passion. To find that passion, you ultimately need to look at where your strengths and interests lie. Not that “Well, I can make money in this career to be able to buy the things that will make me happy,” but finding a vocation that excites you on most days. As personal and professional lines become blurred, this becomes increasingly important.

3) They are willing to try new things.

With children, that is what their whole existence is about — learning about the world and figuring out how to do the things that people around them are doing. From the early attempts at walking and talking to figuring out the social norms of interacting with other people to expanding their knowledge in areas of interest in school, kids are always learning and trying new things.

Job searching and career management should be about that, as well. I feel like I say this a lot, but social media has really changed what activities constitute a job hunt. And it’s going to keep evolving, so what is considered current when looking for a job today could be outdated in five years (or less!) If you are learning about Twitter, LinkedIn, and VisualCV for the first time right now because of your job search, it will be in your best interest to continue to develop your understanding of the upcoming technologies and tools even after you have landed a position. These will be a part of networking in the future, and you don’t want to have to start this process all over again because you didn’t keep up with the changes.

More thoughts about this in upcoming posts! Click here for the second installment.

Image courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt

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