A mentor is like a mirror: Even a senior (expert) needs - and wants - mentoring #mentor (SueMentors.Blogspot.com)
I haven’t been posting for the past 3 months because of an extremely busy time. But I have been mentoring – and in ways that were surprising to me.
In July-September, we at Social & Scientific Systems (SSS) were unexpectedly were facing the sooner-than-expected project close-out, and it meant that several staff needed to be looking for new jobs. I wasn’t surprised that some of the staff – mostly those still early in their careers – were asking for my help in updating their resumes.
I was more surprised to have two very senior and experienced professionals ask for my help. When they gave me their resumes to review before we met, I realized that both were examples of why a mentor can be useful, no matter how far along you are in your career.
One had an illustrious and varied career and many qualifications prior to coming to SSS two years ago. But her resume read like someone who had just finished graduate school. She was very detailed in listing all the things she did (both in her SSS job and before). She did not, however, really describe her senior-level work. When we sat down together and I asked her to describe her present previous job, she really didn’t sell herself. When I asked her to listen to my brief descriptions of what I knew her roles to be, however, she agreed that what I described was her real work.
It turned out that she just needed a mirror to reflect back to her what her skills and experience really had been – so her resume would show that.
The second is a real go-getter and, because of her varied qualifications and experiences, she could fit into different types of work opportunities, not just in the narrow niche in which she’d been working at SSS for the past 7 years. Her resume, when she sent it to me, also sounded like a laundry list of specific tasks, even when she grouped them under useful headings such as project management experience. When we met to discuss her resume, she said her challenge was trying to understand – and then convey in writing – how her seemingly narrowly-focused skills could be applied to different kinds of job opportunities. We discussed where we both thought some relevant job opportunities would be available and I walked her through how better to group and describe her skills and experience. In addition, I recommended that she begin to look at websites of organizations where she might want to work so she could examine their specific job postings. This would give her an even better idea of how to specifically focus her CV.
And these experiences reminded me that even seniors need a mentor sometimes, no matter how expert they are.