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John-Michaels, Counselor (LPC)
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 612
Experience:  25+ years working with familes and 6 children of my own.
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I have a son, now a college student, who made good grades in

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I have a son, now a college student, who made good grades in school, makes good grades in college, has high standardized test scores, including I.Q tests and was an eagle scout.

The problem: he has never been able to convince anyone to give him a chance for a job. He has tried food service, is a trained lifeguard/swim instructor and his latest try was for an on campus job in that got to the point of required references but finally he was turned down.

This problem is feeding upon itself and creating a huge self-esteem/anxiety problem that I fear is heading him for depression. I feel the problem has been brewing since middle school. During his school years I spoke with his teachers and he has seen councelors, but no one has been able (or willing) to pinpoint his problem, much less explain what is going on or suggest any solution.

He seems to be friendly, easy going and witty, but nonetheless, people tend to shy away from him. I know many college students end up in depression and I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX fear for him.

Can anyone suggest a positive course of action?

Welcome to JustAnswer! I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. Please note, this is not therapy, but information. I do hope I can help you.


Could you do me a favor and answer a couple questions first though? This will give me a better basis for my response. You say he is easygoing and witty. Is this with people his own age or older? Does he have any other unique personality characteristics you might note? Does he have any special interests? How many jobs has he applied for when he has been looking? Have you considered a job coach for him or at least someone that might mentor him in his job search skills? Just some thoughts that might get us heading in the right direction.


Thank you!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He is easy going with people in different age groups, but mostly within his age group. He communicates with the adults he knows best (aunts, uncles, scout leaders). He is shy and tentative and probably does not project confidence when meeting new people. He has few "special" interests (except computer games), but follows the activities of his peers and rarely leads or suggests activities to others. He has had many opportunities to explore a wide variety of hobbies, but none have particularly "stuck". He probably reverts to computer games due to his social awkwardness. He applied for a multitude of jobs when in high school (50?), but with each failure, his ability to get back out there is greatly reduced. At this point, we can hardly get him to do much in this regard. Every time he does actually apply, it ends in the "circle of failure", etc. I am not sure how to find a job coach/mentor for entry level type work when the problem must be how he comes across to potential employers?

You are probably correct on the mentor for this level of job search. Actually, a family member or fiend might be able to help. it sounds as if he just needs that first job to build his confidence.

His biggest issue does not appear to be a lack of skilLs, but rather a shyness and inability to market himself. Below are some of my own pointers that:

1) Develop a resume. Even if the jobs he is looking foR do not require one, iT will help him get a better feel for what he has to offer.

2) Determine his skills and what jobs they are suited for. Focus on those jobs but dont limit himself to them.

3) Network himself. Talk to friend's and family about referring him where they work. A large portion Of jobs are secured this way

4) Go job hunting through the phonE book and doOr to door. Another large portion of jobs are found this way...Basically bY chance. You must knock a lot of doors to find A job this way. Basically, finding work is hard work.

5) Sell himself in the interview. PracTice the interview proceSs ... How to greet and shake hands, How to answer questions, etc.

These are just a few pointers i give. For a more complete list and some links go to I really do believe if he could gain that first job he could gain the confidence he needs to better hImself;

Some things as a parent you might try:

1) Keep encouraging him.

2) Be his mentor. You havE found jobs. Share your knOwledge with Him.

3) Don,t enabLe him. I know he is shy and this is difficult, but until he faces thIs basIcally phobia he is nOt going to conquer it. Basically, cut him bacK on his allowance or sustenance to the point he feels the need to overcome his fear,

i hope this has been a help to you. If you have any questions pleas post hem here. I do want to be a help. Otherwise, I hope you will leave me a positive rating so I can be compensated for my time.

I see you are offline. I hope the information I gave you was helpful. My response was based on my experience and training and the information you provided. ( I do apologize for the typos, but with age my typing is going to pot). If you have any further questions or info that might further enlighten my response, please let me know. I do want to help you. Otherwise, I hope you will leave me a positive rating so I can be compensated for my time. Thank you.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I sent a reply, but not sure if it reached you? Thanks
It does look as if our transmissions were crossed. The only post I see of yours following my answer is "I sent a reply, but not sure if it reached you? Thanks". Please repost if need be. i do want to help you.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Here is the jist of my reply: All of the recommendations have been discussed and done (we will check out Wikihow). We (parents) do not give enough money for extras, but this also backfires as it allows him to hole up alone and further isolate himself. Because this has been going on for so long (since middle school), my "encouragement" credits are used up and are now perceived only as a pointing out of deficiencies and the very painful failures that I am trying to "help". I am at a complete loss and think all I can do is hope and pray that he will eventually pull himself out. It is a difficult thing for a parent to do nothing. I live in constant fear that if the situation is not corrected (and as time goes on it will get harder to correct), depression is coming and since he lives away there is no one to really help/mentor him. Remember he clams up and keeps all this to himself. He would not like that I am seeking outside help. It is not money that he needs a job for, but for self esteem and his mental health.

I see. The step by step instructions are not what he needs. He needs the desire and the confidence maybe to do something about it for himself. I would suggest you secure counseling for him if you can convnince him to attend. A counselor could help him work through his esteem issues as well as talk him through the job search process.


As an addendum, I am going to take a leap here and outline the symptoms of Aspergers. Please do not take this as a diagnosis, but it is what came to miind when I first read your discription of him. I was just leary of bringing it up at that poiint. Knowing wouldnt fix it either, but it would at least give understanding,


The following are criteria for Aspergers that have been excerpted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV):


  • Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
    • Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
    • Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
    • A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest or achievements with other people, (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
    • lack of social or emotional reciprocity
  • Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities
  • The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • There is no clinically significant general delay in language
  • There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in


Does this sound at all like your son? Aspergers is nothing to fear. Many people with great success in life have been diagnosed with Aspergers, including Bill Gates. Other noteables are likely Einstien and other great minds of the past. Your son sounds very smart and gifted. It just sounds he may have difficulty relating to his enviroment.


I hope you don't find this offensive. I really cannot diagnose from here. But this did come to mind. Please ask any questions and I will respond as soon as I become available.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Well, I would never of thought that, but...his issues do cause "significant impairments in social, occcupational, or other.... functioning". The symptoms that fit are the lack of spontaneity (he has missed many opportunities that come up, but he can't or won't make himself act, then later regrets it) and he also will frequently revert to repetitive activities (computer games) that are within his comfort zone when the outside world becomes uncomfortable (when he feels left out of life). Not sure if these examples are indicative of the described symptoms. Strangely, his major is psychology, so hopefully he will learn to help himself too!! Thank you!
Well, I wish I would have continued that angle to begin with. It really does seem to explain it. As I said knowin g doesn't fix it. It just explains it. He likely functions much better in a well planned structured environment. He is not much of an abstract thinker and needs a lot of explanation. You ate right though, it would seem best at this point if he discovered this on his own. You might do some googling and see what you come up with adult aspergers. He definitely would not be alone.
John-Michaels and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
I apologize for one more thought on this. I mentioned allowing him to discover this on his own. There may be value To that, but he might also find great relief and freedom in knowing. I am sure you will do the right thing.
Hi! I appreciate you allowing me to help you maybe arrive at a solution the other day. I hope I was helpful. Let me know if I can help you in any other way.

John Michaels, MS, LPC