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Eileen Dooley is a human resources strategist, VF Career Management, Calgary office.

It is never too early to start building a résumé.

The recent story about the 30-year-old man being evicted through court action from the family home by his parents was a startling wake-up call. Although an extreme case, it highlights the challenging job prospects of someone 30 years old, with apparently minimum job search skills, and seemingly not much ambition.

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As with many people my age (a Generation Xer), we could not move out into the real world fast enough. We wanted independence and privacy. We did not much care what we moved into, so long as it was ours. We were not looking to move into something like where we came from (in my case, a nice 2,000-square-foot home). Instead, a 500-square-foot apartment downtown that we could make our own was perfect. But to do that, we needed a job and needed to keep it. Responsibility and accountability were key to keeping that job and owning up to it.

Recently, a former babysitter called me for reference. She is 15 now and wants to work during the summer. She landed a job at a popular downtown restaurant, with a patio, working as a server’s assistant. Not glamorous work, but it is part of her gradual evolution in the work force and I have no doubt she will work hard to be a good employee.

As the school year winds down, it is never too soon for kids to start building a résumé. Working early is not about just making money – it is about gaining experience. It’s really not very different than when you land your first job out of postsecondary schooling, and equally contributes to building one’s character.

Eventually, when it comes to landing a first “real” job that allows them to be independent, your child will have the skills, knowledge and leverage to find work. They will have references, a list of accomplishments and will have demonstrated their commitment to being a solid employee.

So, how can you help your child get that résumé going and hopefully avoid having the 30-year-old at home? There are no absolute guarantees, but here are some suggestions.

1. As early as possible, involve children in volunteering, especially in community causes that show them the value of work. Stuffing food hampers, garbage pick-up in community parks, or serving meals to the homeless come to mind. This type of volunteering opens their eyes to the world beyond their front steps. It starts to build the foundation of the importance of work and what it could mean to others.

2. Help children find early “jobs” that demonstrate responsibility and, most important, accountability. Babysitting comes to mind. With some proper training, it is something a 12-year-old can do. It is not about making a huge chunk of change. Instead, the focus should be on learning responsibility and accountability, and earning a much-needed reference for later. There are also people looking for help shovelling snow or cutting grass. Children should seek out these opportunities themselves and not have their parents doing it for them. That helps them gain confidence and begins the essential early networking skills that are tremendously important later on.

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3. As soon as the child is of legal working age, suggest (or insist) that they find some sort of part-time job. There are plenty of roles out there for responsible teens who can interact well with people, show up to work and work hard. Too many times I have heard the story about how a parent prefers they focus on school work rather than juggle both. Except in extreme circumstances, most children can do both, and do them well.

4. No working-age kid should be bored in the summer. Getting up every day and going to work will fix any type of boredom and could possibly earn some decent money to go toward further education or training. Think about working at a summer camp, or seasonal student employment with the private or public sector.

Work isn’t perfect, but looking back each role teaches us something about the real world, where accountability and responsibility are paramount. It’s never too early to start learning about that.

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