It’s a joke in the Black community: giving your child a “resume acceptable” name at birth. Failure to do so will almost ensure that he or she will end up in prison, or worse, reduced to a lifelong career in field during which the highlights consist of inquiring if a patron “wants fries with that?”
I think it’s important that we pause at this juncture and lay some basic truths on the carpet. Everything we do in this world is controlled by a select group of people known as Gatekeepers. These are the people who set your salary, determine where you’ll live, determine what quality of education you’ll get (if any at all), even down to if you’re fit to shop in one establishment or another! Gatekeepers are the decision makers of our existence. They determine which of us gets access to our desired “thing”. It’s nice to think that we are all masters of our fate and captains of our destiny, but even the indomitable Oprah Winfrey was denied the opportunity to look at a hang bag by a Gatekeeper.
In short, if you give the power of decision making and gatekeeping to a power hungry douche bag, we’re all screwed and will suffer for it. However, there ARE things you can do to thwart, or at least stave off, the wily tricks of an ignorant decision maker. And these days, job seekers need as many weapons in their arsenal as possible to help distinguish them from the pack of other job hunters out there. As middle class ranks begin to swell globally, it is more and more important to find ways to adapt quickly t the needs of potential employers!
In the world of the employment search, giving your child a benign, unremarkable, culturally acceptable name like “Eric Thompkins” or “Sue Pine” will go a long way in helping them make it across a recruiter’s desk and into the candidate pipeline. (Unless you’re recruiting for IT, in which case names like Reddi Rahmahanjan and Sundhi Patel are like catnip for resume miners.) We have not yet reached the point culturally where Gatekeepers do not make assumptions about a person based on their given name. Parents can help with that. The next steps, however, require a joint effort between parent and child: i.e. building the contents of said resume.
I came across this blog post last week about Millennial Candidates, the hurdles they face in the hiring process, and why employers should not be so quick to dismiss them. It got me thinking: It truly never is too early to get your kids on the path to success. Every decision we make on a daily basis affects the next outcome for the future. Consider this scenario I found myself in over the weekend. I was out with the girls selling Girl Scout cookies at a booth at Kroger. I wanted to get a gauge for how the other moms were doing with sales, so I inquired on their progress individually.
Me: How many cookies has Isabell sold so far?
Isabell’s mom : About 600 boxes ($2,100 worth)… Almost the same as last year.”
Me (muttering): Dag. 600 boxes…
Isabell’s mom: Oh yes. I make her do her own sales and pitches. I’m part of the Whatever Important People’s Club that meets once a month. She got to stand in front of a room of 300 or so people, give her pitch and take down her orders.
Me: I see…That’s, well, that’s brilliant! Getting her acclimated to public speaking like that, I mean.
Isabell’s mom: Yes girl. She’s gonna need it.
Me: Yeah…all our girls will.
Isabell is 9, by the way. She’s been reading since she was 4 and doing public speaking since she was 5.
The conversation was brief but impacting. It is the essence of what the Millennial Hiring blog post is about. Sure a recent college grad may not have all the working world experience of a 15 year veteran, but there are still certain real world SKILLS that a recent college grad can (or should) possess that will make them successful in the market place. Getting acclimated to selling yourself, your knowledge, a physical item or an idea and then translating that into digestible fodder for a hiring manager or business partner can never come too early. As we move further into the tech era, negotiating and demonstrating these skills has become crucial if one wants any measure of reasonable success. The prophecy that the Geeks shall inherit the Earth is quickly coming to pass, if it has not already.
I have quickly come to re-realize (because I frequently forget), that most American success comes down to the proper application and implementation of keywords. The right keywords at the cash register will get you a discount. The precise keywords at the bank will get you a loan. And sometimes ONLY the exact keywords on your resume will get you a job, or at least closer to landing it than the other guy. Parenting today, just as it has in eras past, has to go through a revolution in order to prepare our kids for success in the future. With these thoughts heavy on my mind, you can therefore imagine my displeasure when Nadjah’s teacher offered her free tutoring classes (which means I no longer have to fork out $x00 for Kuman classes) and I came home from a long day at work to a weeping child at the dinner table.
“What’s wrong with her?” I asked
“She’s just mad because she has to go for extra studies.”
“Oh shut your face and quit crying, Na!” I exploded. “Stop crying because me and your Daddy are trying to make sure you don’t fail at LIFE.”
The crying immediately stopped. See? Keywords.
I firmly believe that guiding your child’s activities both academic and extracurricular is essential in ensuring their future success. Most American parents in my opinion have yet to strike a balance in this area. They either let the child have total control or impose their demands on their children’s experience. So if a kid likes to draw, encourage them to do that, but also enroll them in a camp that will show them other aspects of art, not just working with crayons. Diversity in your specialty will be key in this changing market. This is just one of the many things I wish my parents had told me, or known to tell me. So many of us assume that college is going to teach our kids how to make it in this world. It doesn’t. All a university degree gives you is a piece of paper that says I can sit through a class and see it through to completion.
Are you a parent? Have you begun ‘templating’ your kids future? Do you ever worry that you are not doing enough to secure their success? Have you ever thought about it, or do you just pray for the best? Discuss!