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Friday, December 10, 2010

Listening to your kids will help them get a job

Chances are that our kids will apply to a company that has needs in both the front and back office.  The front generally refers to marketing, sales and customer service.  Pretty much any function that interacts regularly with the outside world and more specifically with customers will be called Front.  Back is more often applied to functions like IT, Human Resources and Accounting.  Many larger organizations will not advertise the specifics of the position at the new grad level.  This means that your son or daughter will be screened and categorized by the interviewers into either a Front career track or a Back career track. New grads who will be pushed towards a Front position will show more extroverted attitudes and those who are a bit more analytical and introverted will be more likely to be slotted into a Back office role.

However, regardless of whether the interviewer judges my daughter's personality to be Front or Back the ability to communicate will be one of the underlying factors behind the hiring decision.  Interviewers want to know that a new grad applicant can explain him or herself with confidence.  They want to hear proper grammar and enunciation.  And, surprisingly, they want to see something of our kid's spirit.  If you have ever had to open up to someone about something a little personal, you can imagine how hard that might be in an interview situation.  But this is just what will set our kid's apart from the ones who lack the confidence and ability to communicate.

Teaching your kids how to communicate is something you can start working on even with small children.  Learning to listen to what our kids say is probably the most passive approach to teaching them how to communicate but it can have a huge impact.

Nothing instills confidence like having an adult and more importantly a parent pay attention to what the child is saying.  It is not enough to nod and make noncommittal grunts to let them know you are still in the room.  Listening, really listening, means that we as parents need to absorb what is being said, consider it and the respond to it in a serious and appropriate way.  How often has your 2 year old come up to you and said something like, "Is me ni Dora to shoe be my to self."?  I am assuming that your reaction would be something like mine.  My brain continues on with whatever else it was doing and I mutter, "That's nice" and my daughter patters off back to her adventures in the living room.  Now, let's add two more words to my response and see how it changes the impact on my daughter.  Instead of, "That's nice" how about, "Dora? Wow! That's nice."  By using one of the words (Dora) my daughter used in her original sentence (if you can call it a sentence!) I am letting her know that I actually heard what she said.  The "Wow" is a bit of encouragement that what she has to say is interesting to me and therefore validates her choice to share it with me.

Validating your child's ideas will go a long way towards giving them the confidence to speak up and express themselves.  They will grow up feeling that what they have to say is worth saying.  So when the interviewer asks them a tough question like, "Tell me about  a difficult situation you once faced." They can respond clearly and outshine their competition.

There are three reasons it is a good idea to start this when our kids are young.  The first is that repetition is often the best teacher.  The more validation your child receives over the years the better off they will be in the job interview.  Second, it is good for us as parents to practice, we need that repetition too.  Third, by the time my daughter reaches her teen years, I want her to know that what she says to me is important and that I will listen to her with respect and love.  Isn't that worth the effort?

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