By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
Managing life at work and the ascension up the career ladder can be difficult in these changing times. You need to have a clarity and focus to stay on an upward trajectory and a solid game plan to ensure your career stays on track. Managing a successful career also means understanding how best to use your resources and time.
Knowing if that path is leading to where you want to go can be overwhelming—especially when you’re looking to climb the ladder in the world of The Big Four. That’s one of the best reasons to look for the guiding hand that comes attached to a mentor. However, picking the right one can be a challenge onto itself. Remember these people who have blazed a trail through the overgrowth of the corporate forest aren’t there to be your career coach or listen to your problems .
A good mentor is there to help you navigate through the political waters that can bog you down, develop strategies for career success, avoid pratfalls and help get the most from the resources at your disposal.
Roy Cohen understands how these special relationships work best and what parts need to go under the hood to make one of these run smoothly. The New York based career coach and best-selling author specializes in the delivery of career services primarily to senior and mid-level
executives. For over a decade, he’s worked with clients on Wall Street and in a variety of different industries and been a guest speaker at prestigious locations like The Yale Club and the New York Society of Security Analysts.
He says due diligence comes into play as a first step in looking for this kind of specialized help and you need to present a well-planned case to any prospect.
“Sometimes people want something because other people want it,” he said recently. “We respond to peer pressure and that doesn’t necessarily need or deserve a mentor.”
Cohen feels that getting the best value from a mentor relationship is all about starting the process off with some introspection.
“Ask yourself why you want to have a mentor and what you’re looking for from the relationship and if your expectations are reasonable in terms of what you expect to get from having this sort of advisor.”
He goes on to explain what can happen when a candidate doesn’t understand the nature of the role well enough to present themselves properly to a possible mentor.
“If I’m a senior executive at a company and a junior person approaches me to serve as their mentor and they don’t have an understanding of how much time we will spend together and how we will spend that time, or they just think they’re a fast tracker that deserves to have one, it looks like a waste of time to the executive.”
Real conviction and a compelling reason are the best ways to get attention of the best people. Cohen also suggests you enlist the help of the Human Resources department since many of The Big Four Firms have existing systems in place for assigning mentors. He also stresses they should already be aligned with your career objectives .
“Mentors need to know that someone is hungry and they already have a game plan and an idea about where they envision their career going,” he says.