The top five first jobs that set kids up for career success

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

Your child's first job is often a stepping stone to their next one, and so the most important thing is for them to get their foot in the door. 

Usually, securing their first role is the hardest as they are trying to get into the workforce with little or no prior work experience

However, businesses often look for extra staff over the holiday periods and take on interns, so now is a great time to look for opportunities actively.

The great news is that holiday and part-time jobs provide a range of life-long skills

Aim for transferable skills

Encourage your child to be flexible with the type of role they are seeking. They will find that the more flexible they are, the easier it will be to land their first job.

Regardless of the nature of the work, your child will learn essential skills, including social skills and relationship management, responsibility and accountability, money management, process management and how to use systems and new technology.

Good entry-level jobs are ones that offer a range of transferable skills they can take with them to their next job.  Jobs with highly transferable skills include:

Tutoring – where they learn how to explain details and teach another person a skill, as well as how to problem solve and explain complex problems

Retail sales – where they learn customer service, relationship management and sales skills

Call centre – where they learn how to engage with a customer remotely, how to manage conflict and customer complaints, as well as how to use different systems and processes

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Waitressing – where they learn how to deal with demanding customers, how to manage multiple requests, and how to balance their energy and time management

Receptionist – for a small business where they learn how to interact with people from all walks of life, along with customer service and communication skills

Think digital

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum released data which showed that in the next 10 years, nine out of 10 jobs would need digital skills.

Many children today are already very tech-savvy, and so there may be fabulous opportunities to put those skills to use and get paid for it.  

For example, securing work with a marketing company where they are supporting social media management and graphic design projects, or working with a technology firm where they are doing basic data entry and web management tasks.

Emotional skills highly prized

The future isn't just about 'big tech', robots and digital.  Knowing how to relate to people, build relationships, solve complex problems and understand yourself is critical for a sustainable, long-term career.  

In a child's first job, regardless of the nature of the work, they will learn much about themselves and how they relate to and interact with other people.  To be successful, they will need to manage themselves, their time, energy and be able to work with people they find challenging.

Encourage children to see the investment in understanding themselves – who they are, what motivates them, what they stand for and how to best manage themselves – are life skills that are just as essential as technical and practical skills.

Get volunteering

You child can gain much needed experience and skills by participating in voluntary activities. 

Whether it is volunteering to support the local community group or a charity, your child will learn valuable skills. 

For example, how to sell and fundraise, how to market an idea and how to prioritise and plan activities.  

Don't forget the old rules

In a rapidly changing workplace, by the time a child of today enters the workforce, new roles that we have currently never heard of will exist.  Consequently, it pays to look broadly, to experiment and to be open to a broad range of first-time jobs.

Don't forget, however, that while the world is changing, many of the old rules of career success still hold.  It always pays to work hard, build strong relationships and to consistently do more than is asked of you.

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert and the author of 'Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work' and 'Bad Boss: What to do if you work for one, manage one or are one'. Find out more at michellegibbings.com