How a mentor can help you progress your HR career

One of the things I get asked often, is how did I progress my career?

I started my working life as a Travel Agent and selling holidays on the high street, I made a move into HR as an HR administrator, and now I run my own multi-award winning business which is a dream come true.

The answer I give is – I did not achieve this dream alone!

At the start of my HR career, it took me a while to find my feet, I always compared myself to my colleagues and whilst I aspired to develop and progress, doing so is a much bigger task than I anticipated. So one day I got the courage to ask for help and I was recommended that I get a mentor.

“But I’m in HR, I know lots about people and teach others how to do it, so why do I need someone to tell me what I already know?”

How naïve I was to think that?! However, after so many more years in HR, I still hear it all the time, from fellow professionals as well as new people coming into their careers. We never know everything about our profession, it is constantly changing, so exposure to other people’s experiences and perspectives really help us to understand how diverse people management can be, but also how we adapt to the changing business environments.

There are many benefits to having a mentor throughout your career journey, it’s a continuous process, not a one off! However, it can be difficult to try and find the right mentor or even know where to begin your search.

Here are some tips for finding a mentor:

  • Look for someone you admire and respect who has the knowledge, skills, and experience that you are looking to enhance
  • You can also look for a mentor who can give you advice on how to set SMART goals, they can also help you to navigate the workplace, build your confidence and provide practical guidance.
  • Ask your friends or family members if they know anyone in your area of interest that would be willing to help guide you through your career. If they know someone, they may be able to introduce you.
  • Attend your local CIPD branch events, that’s where I met my mentor!
  • Get active on LinkedIn, there are several groups that may help you find the right mentor for you

Once you have identified several people as potential mentors, it helps if you have some questions ready in advance so that when the time comes for an actual meeting, it will not be awkward. Think about what kind of information or help you are looking for from them and write down some questions based on those needs. This way when the time comes for your meeting or phone call with them, it will not feel like just another job interview but instead an opportunity for both of you to learn from each other.

Another piece of advice, is to come up with three goals that you’d like to accomplish within the next ninety days; for example, think about how you would like your life to be different or something specific that could have an impact on at least one other person such as yourself, family member or friend by the time ninety days has passed. Make sure that they are truly SMART goals, that way you can break each aim into practical smaller steps that are achievable. This will help your mentor to understand your aspirations, and be honest!

I hope this helps even just a little, and I will see you back here next week for some more HR fun!

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