It's a family affair


By Jackie Grisdale

As another year draws to a close, many of us choose to reflect on the year just gone and ponder what lies ahead. And for young people, it’s no different. Spending time with parents and family over the festive period brings with it questions and conversations about career aspirations, hopes and dreams. So, for the final blog about influencers this year, it seems only fitting we turn our attention to the influence of parents and family members.

And what an influential group! According to High Fliers, parents and family members are the second most influential factor when making career decision – second only to students having real life encounters with the workplace. And their influence impacts right from the very start, shaping beliefs, attitudes and behaviours while also acting as role models.

When it comes to your attraction strategy, it’s important to consider the role of this important influencer group; the role they really play, their information needs and how they can be reached and engaged with as part of the career decision making journey.

When it comes to family influence, it’s important to consider which segment of the audience group you are talking to as it will vary. School and college students for example are likely to seek more direct support from parents than those at University – but don’t underestimate the importance of a parents’ opinion when it comes to a graduate’s career choice (I’ll come back to this in point 5).

Here are my top five tips when it comes to engaging with parents and family members.

1. Inform them

School and college leavers often turn to immediate family for advice and guidance in the first instance. But they can often be at a loss as to where to start too, especially if they haven’t got direct experience of Higher Education, apprenticeships or particular industry sectors. Give parents and family members a helping hand with dedicated information and resources to support them in guiding their child around career opportunities and alternative entry routes. It could be anything from a dedicated parent guide, to a dual content brochure for students and parents, or even a parents’ portal on your careers website.

2. Include them

If you’re holding events for school students (digital or face to face) make sure you think about the role of parents and family members. If appropriate, invite them along to the event too. Not only will it help their own understanding, it will give confidence to the young person. But when doing joint events, think about the format carefully to make sure all audiences get the value they need from the event.

3. Engage them

Parents and family members often have different information needs to a young person. They will often be much more interested in the structure and practicalities of a particular entry route – wanting to understand the difference an apprenticeship will have compared to a university degree when it comes to achieving career aspirations for example, whereas students will want real life insights into the day to day role. So, make sure you tailor your content to be engaging for each segment of your audience, answering their specific information needs and role in the decision-making journey.

4. Target them

A tricky audience to target, parents and family members are transient throughout a young person’s life so there isn’t a one size fits all approach. Targeting this audience calls for creativity. Events are just one route to reaching and engaging this audience, but with some careful planning parents can be reached through a number of different channels. Targeted social media, content on relevant websites and in key publications and a creative approach to harnessing other stakeholder groups to share messages with parents are all top tactics.

5. Reassure them

A parent or family member may hold deep-seated views around particular careers, or even hold their own aspirations for their child. This can present difficulties for a young person when it comes to discussing particular career options or entry routes due to the negative reactions they can experience. Therefore, it is just as important to dispel the myths a parent holds so a young person can feel confident about their chosen career path. We tackled that head on with our recent Unlocked video campaign – all centred around the (often) negative reactions people have towards graduates wanting to pursue a career as a prison officer. Take a look yourself.