With the cost of college tuition at an all-time high in the U.S., the most common question asked on campus tours these days is, "What's the job placement rate of your graduates?" However, having a college degree no longer guarantees you a great job. With so many people earning degrees, it's not the differentiator it used to be.
The solution isn't advanced degrees either. In fact, most employers I talk to say more education isn't better at all. One human resources manager (who asked to remain anonymous) told me, "I find many people with master's and MBA's to have higher expectations of what they think they're worth, but don't have the skills to match." So what can a parent do to make sure their child becomes the kind of worker every company wants to hire?
The more resourceful, the better.
Employers say that, while we have the most educated workforce on paper, what's missing is an ability to be resourceful in solving problems. Especially Millennials, who are used to being coached and given a playbook for success. The inability to come up with unique solutions using a limited set of materials is prevalent. What's caused this decrease in resourcefulness?
Praise and other bribes are the culprit.
In the book, Punished by Rewards: The Problem With A's, Praise, and Other Bribes, author, Alfie Kohn explains how our culture's focus on rewarding behavior for getting the "correct" answer has created a generation of workers who aren't motivated to be resourceful. Instead, they expect rewards for doing what they were told to do. Being right and feeling the reward of praise and acceptance has become the focus. In the process, an ability to make mistakes, learn, and grow from them has diminished. So what can we do?
Focus your child on being a problem-solver.
If we know kids want to be praised for a job well done, then the solution is to praise them for solving problems. It's not the end result that should be praised, but the effort, tools, patience, and grit they used to figure it out. This builds confidence and creates what's called "intrinsic motivation," the internal satisfaction they get from tackling and figuring out difficult situations on their own. Being self-motivated is a key component to being resourceful. The more your child is driven to solve problems, the more valuable they will be to employers in the future.
P.S. Knowing how you like to add value will help you coach your child.
There are workplace personas that define how each of us likes to add value on the job. Knowing your own workplace personas can help you better understand all the ways in which you're resourceful to companies. This makes it easier for you to recognize, coach, and reinforce the proper behavior. The more you can articulate and validate what resourceful behavior is and isn't, the better the chances you'll be able to develop the skill in your child.