Most people think of a mentor as someone who helps them in their early 20s, guiding them toward a path that will help their careers. • Then that career takes off, cruises along at altitude on autopilot, and the mentor is a memory, or someone who — now a friend — asks for advice as much as giving it.
But what about when that career crashes? Maybe it's time, again, to call on a mentor — maybe the one you had in your 20s or maybe someone different this time.
A mentor needs to be someone you can trust to review your resume. She also needs to be someone who will tell you that your shoes are inappropriate and, yes, your butt looks big in that skirt.
Beth N. Carvin, president of Nobscot Corp., a Honolulu human resources firm, said a mentor is someone who can step in and give you a lift.
It doesn't need to be just one person; sometimes it is good to have two or three people to help with the different tasks.
Interviewing: To assess your skills, maybe it's worth turning to an old boss or someone in human resources with a previous employer who's well-versed in interviewing candidates. That mentor can help you work on your skills because no matter how competent you may be, it doesn't matter if you come off looking like a dolt.
Job search: Another mentor, maybe a former co-worker or someone from a college alumni group, can help develop a job-search plan with daily and weekly to-do lists.
That also would be the person to listen to, someone you can vent frustrations to about job hunting, and the person who can reassure you that just because you didn't get the job doesn't mean you aren't qualified.
Total package: A third mentor would be the person who can look at your job-hunting package: resume; work samples, if that is appropriate; cover letters, and tell you if they hold up.
He might be someone found through an industry association or a university alumni mentoring program. You also could approach someone you once heard speak and ask if he would be willing to help.
The goal is to find someone who can take an honest look at what you have and where you can go. "If you're working, your mentor will help you with your career choices," Carvin said. The process also works for the unemployed or underemployed.
"Maybe you're in one type of career, and maybe those skills can be applied to something else," she said. That's where a mentor can help make an honest assessment.
Recruiting a mentor: Explain why you are choosing him and why you think he can help you. If it is someone you don't know well, tell him you are seeking a limited amount of his time and ask, specifically, if he will act as a mentor for you.
"Expect to receive some rejections," Carvin said. "Have a long list of possible people. Keep going until you find a great mentor."