By guest author Staci Erikson
Being hirable is absolutely critical to our health and security, and in order for our children to grow up and become independent, they will need to land a job. When preparing our children for this day, of course we think about education, test scores, and competency. This is evident because parents are spending more time and money than ever before focusing on building their children’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills. However, less time is being devoted to learning good manners and basic social skills. So what’s wrong with that?
A study by Harvard University in 2018 showed that companies were willing to hire and pay more to candidates who had good social skills over someone who was technically superior. Yes — more willing to hire and pay more for someone with good social skills — over technical skills.
Now before you panic because you think your child is shy or awkward, consider this — good social skills can be learned. Your child doesn’t have to be Mr./Ms. Popular, a good storyteller, or quick with wit. Good social skills in the workplace simply means someone who is easy to work with. That’s it! This is someone who is aware of making those around him or her feel valued and comfortable in their presence. This person comes across as professional.
This means knowing:
- How to greet others when first seeing them for the day. You can help teach this by establishing a routine of having your children greet family members when they see them for the first time each day. This will ensure they know how to do this later on when on the job.
- The importance of good hygiene (clean body, breath, wearing deodorant). Even your six-year-old can understand that it’s much nicer to be around others when they’re not stinky.
- Knowing how long to talk before letting others get a word in — typically about two minutes. You can practice this at dinner with a timer. Ask a question of your children and have them talk until their two minutes are up. This helps them get a feel for how long two minutes actually is.
- To clean up after ourselves and put things back. When working, we might be sharing a workspace, an office, kitchen, or tools. Rotating household chores when kids are young will go a long way in making your child a coveted coworker.
- Basic dining etiquette. Chances are you’ll be eating lunch around others. At a minimum, we must chew with our mouths closed! Try to plan sit-down meals together regularly so that you can monitor and model good table manners for your children.
- Proper telephone, social media, and email etiquette. Don’t allow slang, swearing, or off-color jokes. This has come back to haunt many an employee. This message should be drilled into our children and monitored very early on. Also, children can practice their telephone skills by calling to schedule or change plans with friends, grandparents, the dentist, etc. (rather than texting).
- Show gratitude. Using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ goes a long way to let others know that we appreciate them. However, try to avoid withholding treats or privileges until your child says the ‘magic word’ as this teaches children to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to get what they want as opposed to showing gratitude. Rather, remind them how good it makes others feel when we use the ‘magic words.’
If we parents devote as little as 10 minutes a day to teaching our children these basic skills, they will come naturally when your child hits the pavement looking for that first real job. Waiting until the week before an interview or a job begins is going to put extra stress on that young person because they will have to constantly remember what to do and what not to do.
If you have a child who is going out for that first interview, make sure that he/she knows that his potential employer is not just looking to see if he has certain knowledge, but if he is someone they would want to work with day in and day out.
If your child shows up late to an interview, makes excuses, is unprofessional in his speech or dress, comes across as overly self-interested, interrupts, or talks over others etc., chances are this employer is not going to want to work with him, especially if there is someone else who has almost the same skills set, but doesn’t do these things.
If your child arrives, neatly dressed and on time, and gives his undivided attention to the interviewer and sends a follow up thank-you for their time, he will have impressed the interviewer no matter how advanced his technical skills.
We all want our children to be successful in life, so don’t forget to include some good manners and etiquette lessons in their academic day.
Editor’s Note: We’re excited to host Staci Erikson this summer as a speaker at the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference! You can come hear her in person and get all the encouragement, training, and resources you need for a successful homeschooling year. Learn more & register here.