Tag Archives: career development

8 ways you can benefit from a great mentor in your career

I had a mentor once who taught me all I knew about the job search up to a point where I was ready to fly free. My mentor, Ellen, was extremely knowledgeable about the job search. She set the foundation of my career.

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Ellen was also one of the best speakers I knew. I used to say she could talk like an angel, so fluid and effortless. Yet, she never over acted like some speakers do; she was a natural. Ellen was also meant for the role of a mentor.

I learned from Ellen that a mentor can be a valuable person in your career. Without a mentor, you go it alone; you don’t benefit from their sage wisdom and career support. So, what are the aspects of a great mentor?

1. Provide advice and support

The Oxfords Learner’s Dictionary describes a mentor as simply “an experienced person who advises and helps somebody with less experience over a period of time.”

It’s a given that your mentor will have knowledgeable of your occupation and how you should perform to positively impact the organization. You can trust that what they advise will only help you succeed in your job.

Whether you ask for advice or support, your mentor will give it when needed. They might see you failing in an important aspect of a project or assignment and let you know how to approach it in a better way.

2. Allow you to fail

A mentor will also let you experiment and allow you to make mistakes from which you will learn. Failing is part of the learning process. If you’re afraid of failing, you’re not going to advance in your career. You should seek out a mentor who understands the learning process.

Your mentor should give you that leeway and not step in before you make that small error. Sure, your mentor can see it coming a mile away, but they will allow you to make that mistake and call it a learning moment. A great mentor will then explain how not to repeat that mistake.

3. Go to bat for you

I remember a time when I had totally forgotten about a workshop I had to deliver. It slipped my mind. I went to lunch and didn’t check the multiple text messages sent by Ellen, which told me I had a workshop. What did Ellen do? She did my workshop even thought she had a ton of other work to do.

Naturally I was called to the carpet for spacing my workshop, but Ellen was there to tell our boss that all ended well and that I wouldn’t repeat that mistake. Because if I did, Ellen would kill me. Needless to say, I didn’t repeat the mistake again.

4. Give you credit

A mentor will never take credit for what you’ve accomplished; rather they will share your successes with the organization. At staff or department-head meetings, your mentor will purposely and clearly announce your accomplishment.

The opposite of this would be taking credit for what you’ve accomplished. Someone who does this is not a mentor. Similarly, a mentor will not describe your successes using the pronoun “we.” They will say, “Joe wrote the all the content for our Product X page.” You will do the same for your mentor.

5. Point out their own weaknesses

A mentor will not be afraid to point out their weaknesses. By telling you what they did wrong can also be a learning lesson for you. If your mentor blames others for their mistake, they are not mentoring you; it is telling you that blaming others for your mistakes is acceptable.

Ellen would not blame others from her mistakes; rather, she would talk about them openly and end by telling me not to commit her mistake. I appreciated this because it gave me the freedom to talk about my errors.

6. Will ask for your advice

Your mentor should recognize your strengths and emulate them to better perform their job. When I created the first LinkedIn program at the career center, Ellen would ask me to share my knowledge. I was glad to provide it because I saw it as an honor to be asked.

You should not keep your “secrets” from your mentor in fear of losing job security. Your mentor doesn’t hold back advice and information. Neither should you. Your mentor is secure in their position and, as such, freely offers advice when you ask for it.

7. Their door is always open

I mean this literally. You might need a place to vent or talk about personal issues. A good mentor will give you that space. Just make sure you don’t take advantage of your mentor and constantly use them as a shoulder to cry on.

Your mentor is not your therapist, so don’t treat them as such. One of the things I miss about Ellen is the ability of talking shop with her. We would bounce ideas off each other. And, yes, we would vent every once in awhile. We tried to keep these venting moments to a limit.

8. Keep things real

Of course there will be moments when you’ll need to talk about difficulties happening in your workday. This is an important time where your mentor can provide advice as well as tell you to “suck it up.”

When my attitude became unnecessarily negative, Ellen would tell me to snap out of it. Your mentor will do you the favor of keeping it real. They will not let you complain when there’s nothing to complain about.


Your mentor can be a part of your professional and personal growth. Don’t underestimate the importance of a great mentor. Does your mentor have to be your boss? No, they don’t. Can your mentor be someone younger than you? Of course they can. You can learn from anyone who has the right qualities.

There came a time when I had learned all I could from Ellen. I started revamping the workshops which she had developed. She approved of my changes, realizing I was learning at a faster rate. I will forever be grateful to Ellen.

7 reasons why it’s important to keep learning at work

Are you feeling like you’re going through the motions at work? Do you feel like you’ve mastered your role and there’s a lot more to learn? Are you being denied the opportunity to learn? And, worse of all, do you dread Monday mornings and live for the weekends?

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If you have any of these feelings, you’re not alone. Lack of training  and other opportunities to learn is a key reason why employees are unhappy with their job, and the reason why they eventually leave.

If you’re not growing or learning anything new, it might be time to leave, says an article from Forbes.com. “…when you’ve outgrown the position and there is no opportunity for advancement–or you seem to work the same job day in, day out without any opportunity for growth, even though you crave more–it’s time to get out.

Here are seven reasons why learning at work is essential to your happiness.

1. It’s important to stay current in your career to prevent stagnation. Stagnation has killed many a promising career. We are naturally inquisitive beings who require mental stimulation. People who allow stagnation to set in end up hating their job and perhaps making those around them miserable as well. We must avoid stagnation at all costs. here are six reasons why:

2. The landscape of the labor market is changing rapidly. Employers are paring back on apathetic employees and sticking with those who demonstrate an ability to grow with the company. In other words, they’re cutting out the dead wood. They want hungry, lean, ambitious workers. This is simply the trend of the present and future, and it makes complete sense.

3. You owe it to yourself to be the best you can be. Forget for a moment that you don’t make as much as you’d like, or that you find it a bit odd to read work-related literature before bedtime. (Guilty as charged.) Keep in mind that when you stop bettering yourself, you essentially stop reaching the goals you strive to obtain.

4. You’re a role model for your colleagues. The more effectively you work, the more effective your colleagues become; the better the company or organization for which you work becomes. You are concerned with the success of your company. You want your colleagues to feel the same. Success for your colleagues and ultimately the company won’t come unless you are proactive in your quest to become better.

5, You are judged by your expertise and performance. If not by your boss, you’re judged by the customers who depend on your service or products. When you can’t keep up with the demands of your customers, you have become stagnant. You shrink into the shell of self-defeat. Don’t give up on your goal to be the best in your area.

6. When people ask you what you do, you’ll want to tell them with enthusiasm; have a glint in your eye and excitement in your voice, when explaining the job that offers you stimulation and challenge. Some interviewers ask the question, “What did you like most about your last job?” When you can’t answer that question, you come across as someone who wasn’t challenged and motivated to perform. And that’s your fault.

7. The final, and one of the most important,  reasons to learn at work is preparing yourself for future employment. One thing employers are looking for is increased responsibility at your former job. Have you stayed idle, or have you shown the willingness to do more? Think about your future in this precarious economy.


Staying current in your job may not be a priority of your employer. It may require that you read literature on your own, or take a college class on your dime, or reach out to other experts in your field. It may seem implausible at the moment, but if you think about how damaging stagnation can be to your career, you’ll either make the effort…or find a new job.

Career Development: How to Create Your Career Development Plan in 3 Steps

Guest post from Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent

If you are pondering your career direction and how to get where you want to be, there are some simple steps you can take that will help you come up with a plan.  Let’s not be confused by the word “simple”.  Sometimes the simplest of concepts or steps can be tough to do, because they require some thinking and some effort.  Yet, your think time and effort are an investment in your future and happiness, which make it all very worthwhile.

Step 1:  Figure out your destination.  As with all efforts, you must be clear about your direction.  You don’t take a road trip without knowing where you want to end up.  You also don’t need to overly complicate this task.  I think the following questions are helpful in thinking out your destination.

Where do you want your career to be in 2 years?

  • I like this question because this window is close enough to your current reality that it is easy to visualize.

Where do you want your career to be in 5 years?

  • If you see that your 2-year goal is merely a step in an overall direction, then this question helps you define a longer term goal.  Sometimes it’s difficult to see that far out in time, as life and opportunities present themselves and can cause you to reset your plans.  That’s ok, but it’s good to be looking “2 steps ahead”.

What makes these targets resonant for you?

  • Don’t make a goal just for the sake of making one.  You need a goal that really rings your chimes and helps to motivate you into action.  If you’re making a goal based on what someone else wants, it also isn’t going to be that compelling for you.  Being clear on your direction means being clear that this direction is inspiring and motivational and knowing what is driving you to it.

Step 2:  Do a Gap Analysis.  A gap analysis is where you figure out the differences in the qualifications between where you are right now and your 2-year goal or next step.

Using a job posting or job description for the position you are aiming at is a good way to get specific information about the skills and experience that are expected.  I think it is good to get more than one job description (perhaps one with your company and one with a competitor) in order to ensure you aren’t missing any key items during your analysis.

Go through the job description line item by line item and rate your current state of skills, education or experience to what is listed.  Your rating system can be as simple as 1-10 with 10 a perfect match and 1 being completely missing.  As you rate, make notes about your thinking for future reference.

Once you have completed this exercise, identify all of the items where there is anywhere from a fair amount to a substantial amount of development that is needed.  Look for commonalities and clump those together as a category.  You will discover that there will be themes to your gaps.  Also, don’t get too compulsive about where you don’t think you’re a perfect match, but think you have fairly developed skills.  If they are mostly present, they will make you a competitive candidate and shouldn’t require too much development attention.

You now have a list of development items.

Step 3:  Create your development plan.  You are now fully armed with a clear 2-year goal and all the details of where and what you need to develop to get you where you want to go.  Your plan will be best if you can consult with your boss and/or a mentor to help you with ideas of how to get the skills you need to add.

There may need to be some logical order to a few of the items on your list.  Sometimes you need to do x before you can do y.  Make these among the highest priority items so you can accomplish these things and move on to others.

Usually there are multiple ways of accumulating the needed skills.  You may also want to have multiple ways of beefing up your skill set to add depth to it.  An example is if you want to move to a project management position, you may want to get certification and also to ask for project responsibilities.  Initially, these may be small, which are fine; they will give you an opportunity to grow and learn.

You may need to research various ways to get the skills you need.  Once done, it will give you ideas on how you can approach these items.

You need dates.  You need to keep yourself accountable to your plan; and the best way to do that is to give yourself a “start by” date.  You can’t predict how long or how much work you will have to do in order to develop the skill at the level you need, but you do have control over the action you take to get started.

Keep track.  You need to pay attention to your plan a minimum of twice per year.  This will allow you to stay focused on your progress and remind you of next steps.

Career development is the sort of thing that you can easily forget about until you wake up one day to realize you have gone nowhere and aren’t having fun.  You are responsible for where you go in your career.  With a little bit of planning you can accomplish great things.

For more career tips and advice claim your Free Instant Access to the Career Makeover Newsletter AND eWorkbook “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – both dedicated to Your career success, when you visit

http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldIstayorShouldIGo.com/  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from www.nextchapternewlife.com and www.mbahighway.com