Young people need career guidance, but too often, they struggle to find it. A CareerBuilder study found that twenty-four percent of high school seniors say they have no idea what they want to do for a career.1 Further, a YouthTruth survey discovered that only 45 percent of high school students feel positive about their college and career readiness.2 Without adequate preparation, many young people will take whatever job is available after graduation just to make ends meet, unaware they have other options. Here are four steps high school counselors can take to point their students in the right direction.
1. Offer & Promote Career Counseling Opportunities
As a first step, build awareness of students' career options. High school counselors can do this by administering aptitude and skill tests. You can also partner with a local career center to promote events that introduce students to career counseling. For example, you might host a college readiness event where students have an opportunity to learn about career options, take aptitude tests, and talk to a counselor about how to select the right major.
2. Provide Role Models and Mentoring Support
To steer youth toward rewarding career paths, provide them with positive role models and mentors. Schedule motivational speakers to speak at your high school - they can serve as living testimony to the career paths open to youth no matter what their background. Youth speakers bureaus such as The Fisher Agency3 can help connect you with inspiring speakers. Another way to provide mentoring support is to partner with youth organizations that nurture mentoring relationships, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.4
3. Teach Career Advancement Skills
Seventy-five percent of job recruiters see applicants as unqualified, and 73 percent say applicants do a bad job of tailoring their resumes to specific positions.5 This illustrates that career candidates often lack basic job search skills such as resume writing and interviewing. High schools can aid young people in their job searches by teaching these job search skills. One way to do this is by including courses which teach job search skills as part of your curriculum. Another is hosting job fairs and other events that feature job search training and guidance.
4. Match Students With Employers
Internships help students gain valuable work experience, and high schools can help students gain this type of experience by partnering with employers to develop on-the-job training opportunities for students. In addition to internship programs, classes with hands-on experience components can be used for this purpose.
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