hr-2308519_1280Students  are graduating from college and need a job. They have completed their education and have most likely accumulated debt. Now, it’s time to pay off those loans and enter the world of work.  So getting a good job is high on the graduate’s list.

But what is the employer looking for when it comes to hiring. What makes an interviewer say, “Yes, this is the one?” Is it advanced degrees, ivy league education or who you know? Not really, employers want something else. And parents, you can begin to develop this at a young age.

The desired characteristic is  problem-solving and resourcefulness. According to Alfie Kohn, author of the book, Punished by Rewards: The Problem With A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes, today’s job applicant needs to be a person who can solve problems and use limited resources. And it appears that many of today’s graduates lack these abilities. Maybe this is because we rewarded them for getting the  right answers to their tests and didn’t promote resourcefulness or learning from mistakes.

So how can we change this and raise kids who become more marketable as young adults? Start young.  Praise them for solving problems instead of getting the right answer. When a child is asked to figure out a difficult problem, has to persevere to find a solution, confidence builds. This confidence then becomes an internal sense of motivation. This creates curious students instead of ones who simply want to be right. This skill of problem-solving bodes well for future employment.

It isn’t enough for young people to find information they lack. They can do this with ease and speed given technology. It’s the application of that information to a real situation that counts and seems to be missing in so many millennials. And we see this in higher education–young people who look for the right answer and become upset if they are challenged. But when it comes to applying what they learn to life situations, they don’t do well.

So give your child and teen tasks, problems, and situations in which they have to problem-solve. Don’t do for them. When you helicopter parent or “lawn mower” parent (mowing down the obstacles for the child) you are not preparing them for the future world of work. Let them experience a little stress and struggle and figure out solutions on their own. When you do, you are preparing them to be resourceful and helpful to an organization when they enter the work force. Employers will notice and that young adult will be hired.

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