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WORK LIFE - CAREER TIPS

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How to choose a mentor ...
How to choose a mentor

Deciding to find a mentor is not a decision that should be taken lightly - you will be standing on the shoulders of gods.

The actual term comes from Greek mythology - the goddess Athene assumed the identify of a noble, Mentor, to guide and teach Telemachus, son of Odysseus.

Assuming your town hall is devoid of under-employed deities, you will have to lower your expectations a little.

Choosing a mentor is one area where turning to the internet is positively dangerous. Type the word into a search engine and you will find yourself confronted with a bewildering array of US sites talking about the value of positive role models for errant youngsters.

Luckily, we are here to fill the gap, assuming you can cope with being known, as the jargon requires, as 'the mentee'.

Jessica Rolph, training adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, says it is important to think about just what you want to get out of the mentoring process. 'What type of skills, experience and knowledge do you want your mentor to address? Different mentors will help you develop in different directions.'

Ask yourself if the possible mentor knows the movers and shakers in your organisation or the field you want to specialise in. Can they help you network?

Graham Goodwin, managing director of recruitment consultancy GatenbySanderson, agrees that practical experience and knowledge count for more than the 'soft skills'.

'They need to have actually done the job. Mentoring is often provided by people who have the soft skills, but not the track record.'

Having said that, you do want someone who can communicate well and who can empathise.

Ms Rolph says: 'You need someone you can relate to. They might have to give negative feedback and they have to be able to do that in a certain way.'

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