What is the value of a Career Mentor?

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17 Oct 2019

In recent months, we have had numerous conversations with candidates about the importance of a professional individual who can mentor and help you shape your career. 

We have built our experience and knowledge working closely with accountancy and finance professionals across all service lines including tax, audit and corporate finance to understand their position and assess how they can achieve their ultimate goal. 

It is essential to continually review your career to ensure you are making informed choices both in your professional and personal life. 

Identifying an individual to act as a mentor for your career can have a number of benefits - adding perspective and market knowledge can be invaluable. 

I would argue professionals shouldn't view a recruiter as simply as someone to only speak to when looking for a job. There is a knowledge base that accountancy professionals can tap into including insights into firms, company cultures and strategic direction. 

Knowledge and Experience of Market

Having close working relationships with firms and senior individuals provides a mentor with the knowledge and understanding of particular marketplaces. This is priceless when comes to advising a professional on the direction of a career. 

As a result of these relationships, we are aware of the strategic direction of firms and their teams, having a clear view of the type of professionals that they are looking to attract. 

The importance of culture, vision and values is on the rise as employees strive for an enjoyable place to work. Having a grasp of what life is really like compared to another firm is highly valuable as it is no longer simply down to a job title, remuneration package and job prospects – the enjoyment factor sits towards the top of the agenda. 

Appraise your career

Combining a subjective perspective and industry knowledge, a mentor should be in a position to provide you with a frank appraisal of your career. 

With the ability to give you a subjective view of your current position, prospects and direction for the future, an appraisal from a mentor should provide you with clear insight into how you sit in the market as well as how firms may view you. 

This exercise helps to identify possible gaps in your skills, knowledge, experience and exposure. It will  help you to maximise and enhance your current position – it could be a case of aiming for promotion with your current firm that will help you to fill those gaps. Alternatively, those areas of improvement could be the trigger to begin taking a strategic view of where to move next. 

You ought to be regularly appraising your career and prospects. By doing this on an ongoing basis, it helps you to track progress and ensure you are on the right path, going at the right speed. Having these frank and honest conversations may help you to identify potential opportunities sooner rather than later. 

Career Mapping Exercise

Following an appraisal, how are you going to plot your journey to success? 

I find committing ideas and aspirations to paper in the form a career map is a great way to begin to shape and plot your journey towards achieving your ultimate career goal. 

Understanding how you are going to progress, what changes you need to make and putting timings to this route, will provide you with guidance of what you need to do to move a step closer to your ambition.

This type of exercise also helps you to consider all options – after all not everything goes according to plan. It allows you to factor the “what if?” scenarios and put together a Plan B. 

This is where a career mentor can really play a role – not just helping to plot a route but to use their knowledge and experience to suggest alternative options and routes to success. 

Sounding Board

Working with an individual who has knowledge and experience of your marketplace provides you with the ideal sounding board. 

Regular, informal conversations help to build a relationship and trust, the perfect foundation to share information and work together to shape your career path. 

It is important that these relationships are built on two-way conversations – not solely someone telling you what you should be doing with your career. It is fundamental that information and insights are shared by both parties – being open and honest with each other is integral. 

Using a mentor as a sounding board can help to open up hidden opportunities through a mentor’s clients and contacts, even when there isn’t an opportunity. 

Willingness to debate and discuss

A career mentor is there to challenge you and your ideas.  Healthy debates and deep discussions make everything a little more real. 

By this I mean, a mentor isn’t the firm, manager or a colleague with a biased view or a partner or friend telling you what you want to hear. 

A mentor’s role is provide you with a frank and honest opinion, they are there to scrutinise and question your ideas with the sole aim of helping you to reach the right decision for you and your career.

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