Along with problem-solving, teamwork and confidence, the world's most attractive employers are looking for maturity. Maturity is not a single competency but a collection of traits that combine to make one "mature".
What makes up maturity? Emotional control is one, manners is another indication of maturity, knowing how to act appropriately in any given situation. Using profanity in the interview (to take an extreme example) might be considered a sign of immaturity in our children.
In the parlance of the job description, there are several words/competencies that are related to maturity. "Professional" is most likely the closest match. "Stable" is used occasionally and sometimes in combination with other words like "Emotional Stability". One phrase that indirectly points to maturity is the "Ability to Work Independently."
What can we do as parents to help our kids develop a natural maturity and what do I mean by natural? I for one do not want my kids to grow up faster than necessary. When my son is 10 I want him to act like a 10 year old. And again, at 22, I want him to act like he is 22, albeit a mature 22... That is what I mean by natural maturity.
Focusing on maturity as a goal is to vague. For the elementary grade school level, we here at the Headhunter Dad house are focusing on three of the elements of maturity: 1) How to act in different situations, 2) Ability to work independently and 3) Manners. Emotional control and stability are important but I plan to touch on those in my article on Confidence.
Teaching our kids how to judge and then act appropriately depending on the situation requires what might be best referred to as on-the-job-training. Simply telling my daughter that at a fancy restaurant it is not appropriate to crawl under the table is not going to have as deep an impact if we are sitting at home in our dining room. Most of the key situations for a job application will be centered around interactions with people. Take advantage of opportunities at the park when you run into a friend to smile, shake hands and show your daughter how meeting someone is done. Give her a chance to introduce herself and praise her for speaking clearly and shaking hands well (also relevant to manners). You can make a game of this by coming up with two different situations and then asking your child, "In which situation is it OK to scream and jump up and down; A baseball game or church?" You can't cover all the possible events in your daughter's life but if you can get her to recognize that there is a time and place for certain actions or words then she will be able to think and handle it herself in the future.
Homework can be a good training ground for the ability to work independently. I have mentioned before (and will likely mention again) that grades matter. Due to this irrefutable truth, my wife and I often find ourselves reminding our grade school son to get his homework done. Unfortunately, this is not helping him to develop the ability to work independently. So, we have begun biting our tongues when the urge to remind him pops up and have let our son get to it in his own time. The ability to work independently requires my son to recognize what needs to be done, when it needs to be done by and then do it. There are still days when I will lose the battle with patience and 10 minutes before bedtime force my son to sit and get to work. But there are also days when he will casually announce as he is pulling his books from his bag, "I think I will do my homework now." Hopefully as he gets older there will be more of the latter.
Teaching and learning proper manners can be a lifelong endeavor. Since this article is about preparing for the job search I am going to focus on the manners connected with a job interview: pay attention, stand up when you meet someone and shake hands firmly, don't interrupt, use the person's name, use all the manner words appropriately (please, thank you, your welcome, excuse me), don't slouch and don't groom in front of people. For all these societal tools of adulthood, we as parents only need to keep setting an example and reminding our kids at the right moments. Repetition is a great teacher.