Home ed teens and entering the workforce

Home educating teenagers and entering the workforce

HEN regularly answers questions about how home educated teens will access tertiary education, but some students will be more interested in joining the workforce, in either a part time or full time capacity. Sample CVs seem to focus on school achievements, so what does a teen who is not in school put on their CV?

Work experience is extremely worthwhile. Not only does it help your teen discover which jobs they enjoy (or not), but it provides future employers with an unbiased view of how a young person performs in the workplace. Work experience evaluations can be attached to a CV, and demonstrate punctuality, initiative and work ethic. It’s worth asking the supervisor if they would be willing to act as a referee at the end of the placement. For many teens, work experience provides a direct link to employment. Being known in the company gives teens a head start when interviewing for a position, and often competent teens are offered jobs or apprenticeships at the end of their placement.

Volunteering is another way to show important skills such as honesty, punctuality, empathy and responsibility whilst also contributing to the community. Home ed kids volunteer in so many ways, from helping at playgroups and fostering animals to joining the CFA and Surf Life Saving. The ongoing nature of many volunteer positions also demonstrates the ability to prioritise, and that teens understand the importance of commitment.

Scouts, Girl Guides, Air Force/Army/Navy Cadets and the Duke of Edinburgh (D of E) Award are popular ways to show leadership qualities. These activities give kids interesting experiences to talk about at interviews, and are great ways to show leadership and initiative. The D of E can be done without being part of an organised group, so is a great option for kids who might not thrive at Scouts or Cadets.

Some teens may have their own small business as dog walkers, window washers, or cake decorators. Even if the business is new or on a very small scale, it’s a sign of initiative, responsibility and creative thinking, all skills that employers value.

Sport, languages and music are all school subjects where considerable persistence is required to succeed. If the teen plays in a league, has an AMEB grade, or a language qualification, list it on the resume. If you choose to participate in any of the state or national competitions for various subjects, results can also be listed in the academic section of the resume.

Think carefully about which hobbies and interests to list on a resume. In addition to being genuine interests, aim for a balance of solitary and group activities as well as indoor and outdoor pursuits. Ideally each interest can be used to demonstrate something of value to the employer, and it’s worth preparing a few examples ahead of time.

One area where home ed kids are at an advantage for part time work is availability. When you can choose your own school hours, you can be free to work during the week, at lunchtime, or early in the morning.

The first interview is a daunting process, so try to set up a few practice sessions with friends and family. Some kids struggle to promote themselves without feeling that they are boasting, or find it hard to understand how an employer thinks, so spend time discussing these things. Don’t forget to talk about what employers don’t want to see, tardiness, inappropriate clothing, or badmouthing previous employers. It’s a tough market, and teens may have to apply for multiple jobs before receiving even a courtesy response, so it’s best to be aware of this before they start applying. If you know anyone who works at the company, or who has applied there before, it’s helpful to get an idea of their interview process, and the kind of activities that are used in group interviews.

Work is just one more way for your teen to grow and learn, a continuation of the home ed experience you have provided. Supporting your teen as they move on to the next stage of their lives is bittersweet for many parents. But remember that whilst their success and ability to adapt to the world of work is due to their own efforts, it’s also a validation of the choice your family made to build the character, values and skills that prepared them for this exciting new adventure.


For more information on home education for teens, please see our page Home Educating Teenagers. You can also read about some volunteer and work experience stories on our page Stories of Volunteering and Work Experience.