The Importance of Career Mentoring

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author:Neil Gordon
date_saved:2007-07-25 12:30:19

One of the things that sets successful people apart from the rest of us is coaching or mentoring. Smart people know they don’t have all the answers themselves, and others have already found out through their own experiences the best approach for a particular field.
All of today’s professional sports men and women have coaches. They can be general or specialist – fitness, diet, particular skills etc. Politicians have speaking and writing coaches. Singers have voice coaches, actors, dancers – all in the highly paid sports and entertainment businesses. The rewards are high if you reach the top, and there is a fine line between success and failure.
Career mentoring is no different. You need to get a competitive advantage over the rest of the workforce. This could be increasing your chances of promotion in your existing company, or looking for a new position elsewhere. You could be thinking about starting your own business.
How do you start? It is not smart to re-invent the wheel, so you need to find someone who has already been down the path, and has been successful. They know what works and what doesn’t work. They can guide you in the right direction, and stop you going off on tangents. Make sure the coach is credible. Have they actually done it themselves? Why should you listen to them?
You must look at your career so far – where have you been successful? What have you enjoyed doing? What are your strengths? It’s extremely important to look at what you would like to do taking everything into account, e.g. where you want to live, balance between work and family, travel, stability, as well as financial issues. It wastes your time applying for jobs that do not meet your criteria. It wastes your time not making the most of your skills and experience by not marketing them effectively. It also wastes your time sending out thousands of resumes with a tiny chance of success.
You must know that networking is the key to success, and the most effective way to leverage your network of family, friends, acquaintances, business colleagues, church members, professional associations etc. A good career coach will enable you to build an effective network that will thrive through mutual help.
If you try to do it all on your own, your chances of success will be much lower compared to someone that employs the help of a coach or mentor. While the services of a coach are not free, the amount paid is a great investment that will pay for itself many times over in the future. But … you need to be clear about what you are going to get for your money. There are some companies out there that charge a huge amount for questionable benefits – be careful.
Before you start working with a career coach or mentor, you must be perfectly clear about what services you are going to receive for your money. Ask the provider to explain exactly what you get, and the value it will bring. Ask the provider what evidence they have that a particular service is effective. Have they done for themselves, or are they just doing a sales job on you? What is the background of the person you are dealing with? Can you meet with or speak to the actual coach/mentor before you sign up? What is their background and experience in the field? How did they get their current and previous positions?
Do your research before you commit your hard earned dollars. While having a quality coach, who has “been there, done that” can make all the difference, someone of poor quality will not only provide low value for money, but also put you off coaching services. We get back to the start of this article – success is a team sport – make sure your team is of a high caliber.
Copyright 2005 Neil Gordon

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