Monday, 21 January 2013

How having a mentor can increase career opportunities

Mentoring is a fantastic method of improving career development.   It can help employees achieve great results, improving job satisfaction and increasing career opportunities.  It can also enable businesses to increase productivity and retention.

Many businesses are now using mentoring schemes to help develop the careers of their employees.   It can be hugely beneficial, improving both business performance and reputation as well as enabling individuals to pursue fulfilling and rewarding careers.

Without a mentor, an individual can start to feel lost within their career and perhaps lose some control over their career development.  This can lead to a decrease in job satisfaction and increased stress at work.  The worst-case scenario may be that the employee leaves the organisation feeling negative about both their employer and career.

The use of a mentor can be such a simple and effective way of preventing occurrences of this worst-case scenario.   A mentor can really help individuals to maintain control of their careers whilst improving their performance and skills.  
You may be thinking that this sounds similar to coaching but it does differ in that the mentor is a trusted adviser and teacher with experience in a specific field and knowledge of a particular organisation whereas a coach uses an objective process to enable an individual to achieve goals and overcome challenges they face.  In fact, coaching and mentoring can really complement each other.

Who should be my mentor?

A mentor must be a more experienced colleague who is willing to share their skills, knowledge and experience to assist the career development of others.  In choosing the right one for you, ensure they have relevant experience that will be of benefit to you.  It is also important that you feel you are able to trust and respect their advice.  Your mentor should not be your line manager as your manager will have expectations of what you should do and may not allow for opportunities to broaden your thinking in an open and honest way.

Another important consideration is the network of your mentor.  Do they have a wide circle of contacts and will they be open to introducing you to new contacts?  Networking is of course another great way to advance career development.

If your organisation does not have a mentoring scheme, perhaps talk to your line manager about the possibilities of you having a mentor.  Discuss some of the benefits as outlined above as well as showing how it demonstrates your commitment to your career development and performance.

Mentoring is a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee and schemes should be implemented in all organisations to ensure success against competitors in this tough economic climate.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

How to improve your chances of getting a new job

A successful job search often requires so much more than scanning the internet for ideas and opportunities.  It requires the use of a variety of tools and resources which used together will greatly improve your chances of finding a new job.
When you are actively looking for a new job, it is extremely tempting to rely solely on searching the internet for ideas and job opportunities.  Sitting on the sofa with a hot cup of tea and laptop on your knees scanning recruitment websites and job boards can be really useful but it can also use up valuable time as you get distracted and wander into the realm of Google to find the answer to all your career concerns.

Whilst the internet is an essential tool in your job search, it should not be used in isolation.  There are many other resources and tools you can use which will rapidly enhance your search.


Approximately 7 out of 10 jobs are obtained through networking.  It is one of the most powerful and effective ways to discover job opportunities and enables you to increase the number of people you know in the fields of interest to you.  It is the best way to expand your knowledge, broaden awareness of your marketability and discover unadvertised job opportunities.

Networking should involve contacting warm and cold contacts (speculative applications) as well as attending networking events.  For more information on networking events, have a read of my factsheet here.

Social Networking

The use of social media can also really enhance your job search.  Many recruiters now use social media to find potential employees.

·         LinkedIn 

LinkedIn provides the opportunity to tell other professionals what you can do and what you can offer.  Read about how to write a great LinkedIn profile here. 

·         Twitter

Twitter can be used in conjunction with LinkedIn. It can be used to market yourself and build professional connections.

Recruitment Agencies

Sign up with 2 or 3 Recruitment Agencies. As well as using their online resources, have a meeting in person with a representative during which you can have a discussion about your job search.

Job Advertisements

Look for job advertisements online and in print.

Target companies and organisations

Research companies and organisations of interest to you and understand where they advertise job openings.

That is, no doubt, enough to keep you going!  To enable you to juggle all these different tools and resources, ensure you manage your time effectively and this will help you to move forward efficiently and give your job search the focus it requires.