New studies show that young adults are taking longer than ever before to begin their careers and those who land jobs may switch paths several times before they find their groove.
Experts say there are steps that parents can take early on to help reverse the trend, and raise career-ready kids.
Certified Career Coach Rhonda Hess helps adult clients identify their strengths. She says kids often show their natural abilities early.
"A real cue is what do children do in their free time, or down time," Hess said.
She says a parent's first step - watch your child play. Expose him to a variety of new people and activities. Introduce the idea of work and career.
For pre-teens and teens, experts tell parents to look for clues in their child's choice of clubs and after-school activities. Make the connection between those interests and possible careers and talk about job "clusters" - families of jobs that require similar skills.
Hess says parents should be careful not to pigeon-hole kids no matter what their age.
"I think encourage and allow are distinctions that are wise to keep in mind," Hess said.
Experts say some schools conduct student aptitude testing and begin career counseling in middle school or high school, but the programs vary widely by state. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers good career planning resources for parents and kids - www.bls.gov.