If you haven’t seen the trailer or heard any talk show host discuss the new movie Waiting for Superman, I urge you to pause and take notice. It is my hope you go see the movie.
In a newspaper article about employers and educators studying ways to prepare students for work, employer’s were more concerned about students graduating with “soft skills” than having high grades in math and science.
As a nation, we know we need to do things differently to compete globally. Employers are saying many high school graduates, and even college graduates, aren’t coming out as ready as they need to be.
In the work world, where employers are trying to hire the “best and the brightest” (wrong measures are being used to decide that), there are efforts to develop people to be leaders. There are also programs to build effective team and collaboration skills. But when it comes to on-the-job performance, at the personal level, each of us is pretty much on our own.
The fact that each of us is on our own to succeed does not explain success. If it did, we could place anyone in any job, teach skills such as self motivation, self starting and self management and everyone would be successful. Right?
In the work world, some companies use advanced talent assessments to match people to jobs. Those companies have found that when the right person is in the right job the level of performance is so different it becomes a competitive advantage (see The Nielson Group]. The level of success is so significant that clients of The Nielson Group do not want their competitors to know about the assessment tools and strategies.
So where are we going with all of this?
Those employers aren’t hiring the “best and brightest”. They are hiring the “best fit”. So what’s so magical about being a good fit to a job? If you were to take two incoming Freshman high school students with equal grade averages, one was given a career exploration coaching program in 9th grade and the other was not given any valid, useful career guidance, which do you think would graduate higher in their class four years later? If you guessed the student that received the career exploration coaching program you’d be correct.
In the work world, those that are matched to the job are matched based on personal motivators, behavioral fit and skills. They experience self-motivation in the work, have a clear future view of themselves and are able to meet the behavioral demands of the job without undue stress.
In the example of two Freshman students, if a student has been given the opportunity to explore careers that fit their “soft talents”, has developed a high level of self-awareness and has a strong positive future view with a realistic plan for how to create that future, it is likely they will be self-motivated and determined to achieve academically.
Would graduation rates go up signficantly if every high school had a career coaching program? I’m waiting on that data. Right now, it is hard to get. Most high schools will tell you they have a career exploration program. Ask students what they think of their high school career exploration program and they’ll probably say “what program?”.
Career Coaching for Students™ is a program that costs between $350 (home study self-directed program) and $850 (workshops) around the country through certified professional career coaches. If schools were to invest, or partner with local employers for grant money to bring Career Coaching for Students™ into the school, all high school students would have access to a quality, in-depth career coaching program. And the cost? There are so many ways that becomes insignificant. What is needed isn’t money.
What we need are visionaries and influencers. By bringing Career Coaching for Students into the classroom we are helping a student create a vision of their future that they want. Paint a picture of what a student wants and watch out. They’ll do amazing things to get it. When it comes to waiting for superman, I think the student is the only one that can fill the role of Superman.