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Eight ways a career mentor can help you achieve your career goals

Updated: Feb 9

What is a career mentor / career coach?

Career mentors / career coaches are people who help you make decisions and progress in your career.

It’s relatively common for people to find a mentor within their organisation or industry. This will usually be someone in a more senior position who will help you get a promotion through things like giving you feedback, helping you navigate 'politics and culture' and introducing you to people and opportunities. A mentor like this can be a great help if you want a promotion in the same organisation or industry.

But if you want a change in your career, or want some feedback and development that doesn’t involve your organisation’s ‘politics’ you may want an independent person to work with.

And that’s where career mentors / career coaches come in.

We’re people you choose to work with. We’re independent of your employer and have no ‘agenda’ beyond enabling you to achieve whatever your goal is. You should experience no judgement, no politics and no feedback about ‘needing to be more / less’ anything.

Yes, you have to pay for us. The benefits to you and your career should far outweigh the cost.

What’s the difference between a career mentor and a career coach?

In practice, probably not very much. And many people will describe themselves as both (me included).

The difference lies between coaching and mentoring.

Coaching is more about enabling you to discover your own answers. An exploration of what you want to do will involve coaching – I’ll ask you questions, listen to your responses, make some observations and reflections and ask you more questions. I won’t give you much in the way of information and advice, unless it’s appropriate and you’d like it.

Mentoring is more about sharing my experience and expertise with you. It’s like a blend of training and coaching. Creating your CV and LinkedIn profile, preparing for interviews, understanding how to be ‘more strategic’, developing your leadership capabilities, etc. All these are more aligned to mentoring than coaching because you don’t know what you don’t know.

My Strengths Profile services are a mix of mentoring and coaching. I’ll share with you the Strengths Profile model (mentoring), I’ll ask you questions about your strengths and how they show up for you (coaching), I’ll be able to give you insight into how to combine your strengths, manage and mitigate your weaknesses (mentoring), and then we'll explore how you can do more of what energises you (coaching).

How can a career mentor / career coach, help me?

Here’s an overview of the top 8 reasons clients work with me, and how I help them.

1. I want a change in my career but am not sure to what. I don’t even know where to start to figure it out.

If this is you, please be assured you’re not alone. This is a really common thing. So often we end up in a career by default, rather than by plan. You get a job, you think ‘This will do me

while I figure out what I want to do’ – you probably even enjoy it for a while – and then 5, 10, 15 years later you’re still there wondering how that happened!

Your ‘temporary’ job is now what you do and one day you start to think about missed opportunities – ‘What if I’d done X’ etc.

And then you realise you don’t truly enjoy what you do anymore. It doesn’t light you up. You feel stale, or worse ‘out of place’.

But what on earth do you do instead? How do you figure that out? And then how do you actually make the change happen?

Having done this myself, I know what worked for me. And I’ve helped lots of other people figure this out.

Expect lots of coaching questions as we explore your strengths, values, what matters to you, what you enjoy, what you’ve always (deep down) wanted to do, and what options you have.

And expect some lightbulb moments as it becomes clear to you, and some excitement as you realise you can make the change you need!

2. My role has been made redundant. I’ve worked for this company for over 15 years and only had internal interviews that time. I’m angry and sad about being made redundant, I’m scared I won’t find another job and I don’t know where to start. It’s overwhelming.

I’ve worked with many people following redundancy and if you’re feeling emotional about it, it’s better out than in. I’m happy to listen as you process these feelings and will use my coaching skills to help you move forward and manage that overwhelm.

Then I’ll help you understand where to start. From your job search strategy, your CV, LinkedIn, interview preparation, all the way to starting and getting established in your new role, I can enable you to move forward with confidence.

3. My manager has told me I need to be more strategic and more visible. How do I do that?

This is fairly common feedback and often not backed up with specifics and development.

We’ll talk through what this means for you and your career and explore what’s stopping you from being – or perceived as being – ‘strategic and visible’.

Exploring your strengths is usually invaluable in these scenarios and understanding them enables you to use them, talk about them and be more confident.

4. I like my job but the culture gets me down. I don’t like my manager’s style. How can I deal with this?

We’ll explore what this means for you, your relationship with your manager and what it means for your current role and career.

It may be a clash of strengths and values, it may be a form of bullying and harassment, or somewhere in between.

Once we know, we can figure out the best way forward for you.

5. I’ve been promoted to team manager but am now not sure it’s for me. What can I do?

It’s common for people to be promoted to a team manager role because they’ve been ‘outperforming’ as a team member. It’s also common for this promotion to come without support and development.

We’ll explore what it is that is leading you to think it’s not for you.

If it’s about developing your leadership / people management skills I can help you with that.

If it’s about becoming confident in your new role and with your peers and new leaders, I can help you with that.

And if a team manager role is really not for you (and it’s not for everyone) I can help you understand your next move and how to navigate it the change, including preparing for your conversation with your own manager.

6. I’ve found a job I really want to apply for! I’ve heard you need to tailor your CV but I don’t know how. Plus I want to be really well prepared for an interview.

I’ll help you create a powerful CV that showcases your strengths, skills and achievements and is tailored to the role you want (and once you know how to do it, you can do it easily for future roles too).

Then I’ll help you prepare to shine at your interview. From practicing answering questions using a simple and effective model, through to asking great questions to help you be certain that it is the job for you, you’ll be ready to shine!

7. I’ve achieved the promotion I’d wanted for ages, but now I feel out of my depth. I’m worried my new leadership team are doubting my capability to do the job. How can I make more of an impact?

Congratulations! And please remember that you were promoted because your new leadership team believed you CAN do this job!

I’ll help you explore what’s causing your ‘crisis of confidence’ and making you feel out of your depth.

We’ll check the reality of these feelings as we go and once we know what’s fact I’ll enable you to understand what you can do about it.

Then I’ll support you as you put your plan into action, being here to help you reflect on your actions and learning so you continue to achieve your potential in your new role.

8. I want to progress in my career and achieve my ultimate career goal within X years. I need some help figuring out how I get there.

Congratulations on defining your career goal! As your career development mentor I can help you create your career development plan to achieve it.

We’ll look at the experiences, skills and knowledge you need to develop and how you do that most effectively and efficiently, including identifying your stakeholders and creating your network map.

Learn about my Career Development coaching here.

If you’ve found this blog helpful, it’ll be fabulous if you let others know so it can help them to! Here’s how:

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About Karen Felton

Karen Felton / CompassHR | Strengths-focused career development mentor

Karen is a Career development mentor and coach, enabling people to thrive in their career through understanding their strengths.

She has over 25 years’ experience in HR and Financial Services, leading teams, coaching and mentoring people, developing leaders and enabling people to achieve their career goals. She is passionate about enabling people to be their best selves so they can perform at their best in work and in life.

Read more about Karen here.

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