AIM toward Great-Fit Jobs That Don’t yet Exist

How can you possibly aim toward the jobs of the future? It’s a challenge faced by all students and educators. According to some experts, most of today’s children will work in careers that do not yet exist.

“The top 10 in-demand jobs in the future don’t exist today. We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” — Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education

Let me make an audacious promise. I’ll show you how to identify your student’s talent, or your own talent, and help connect it to future employment—even for presently unknown careers.

But how can anyone do that? I was never issued a crystal ball, and I’ll bet you didn’t get one either.

AIM without a crystal ball

The truth is, you don’t need to know the jobs of the future. But you do need to discover and develop talents, which are far more essential than any crystal ball.

By talents, I mean personal strengths in the form of the Big Three career guidance constructs. These concepts have already been proven over many decades of research to help people find their optimal career path. I’ve been building to this point for some time, so let me sound the trumpets now. Ta Da!

Introducing AIM, in which A stands for abilities, I for interests, and M for motivators.

As AIM implies, these three concepts will help point your child in a good beginning direction. In addition, AIM is simple, unlike many of the career planning resources out there. You do not need to manage a million different factors. Instead, you can chart a course with just three.

I’ll use the career of Spanish teacher to show how AIM works.

Abilities are a mental, social, or physical power, often manifesting as an action and expressed as a verb or a skill: for example, to teach. Abilities are what your child actually does on the job. You might call it her function. A teacher teaches.

Interests are that part of reality on which a person focuses her attention. She learns about her interest area because it’s something she likes, such as Spanish. Her interest becomes her college major and the subject matter she teaches.

Motivators include needs and values. For instance, teachers want to help others. They desire friendly relationships with co-workers. Their needs to both provide a social service and also enjoy camaraderie with colleagues come together in a value called Relationships.

AIM has another virtue: The order of the letters follows natural career development.

Abilities appear first, becoming stable by age 16. If your 16-year-old daughter has strong aptitudes for verbal creativity and inductive reasoning, then those aptitudes will stay high throughout her life. You may notice that, compared to her friends, she’s more verbally adept and quicker at figuring out what needs to be explained, because she’s already something of a natural teacher.

Interests develop next. They usually stabilize in the range of 20 to 25 years old. That means that after her mid-20’s, your daughter could well be interested in the same subject for decades, growing her knowledge of the Spanish language and culture over time. Such stability is a source of strength in a world of dizzying change.

Motivators will likely play their biggest role later, after your child becomes independent, providing a way to trim-tab her direction in adulthood. Here’s one way this might happen: When your grandchildren are in grade school, your daughter might want to teach for their school district so she can share their vacations; once her children become college students, however, she may be motivated by different values.  Maybe she’ll want to teach older students or to make more money.

In the next several posts, I’ll explain how abilities, interests, and motivators point toward a career. The goal is to start off in a good general direction, so that from an early and advantageous position you, or your child, can more easily make connections to future employment.

Now, let’s peek into the future.

Thanks to your talent mentoring, your child has developed her ability for verbal and creative problem solving. Her knowledge of Spanish is impressive. Like a teacher, she wants to help people.

However, she has zero desire to teach.

No problem. Her abilities, interests, and motivators are abstractly identified and therefore flexible. She’s now well positioned to find a career that no one had heard of when she was in grade school. Using the same talents required to teach Spanish, she could instead capably direct herself into the hip new position of cultural mediator.

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