We face many challenges and barriers when it comes to finding a job from the ones that are obvious right through to those that aren’t. The obvious include applying for a job with little experience or just talking a shot in the dark while the not so obvious can come down to either overt bias or unconscious bias. Whatever the case a great way of overcoming barriers and challenges when it comes to the job search is working with a mentor. Now, I don’t mean a life coach! I mean a mentor, a person who can guide you, work with you and support through the jobs process. So why are mentors so important? Well, here are my top three reasons that actually don’t have a lot to do with jobs as such!!
#1 Helps you overcome the small stuff: a lot of what holds us back comes down to daily struggles – the everyday things that are happening in our lives that hold us back or stop us from moving forward. They could be to do with finances and debt, relationships, housing or even fear of the future. Some studies have shown that we spend an inordinate amount of time each day sweating on a lot of small stuff. That includes in the work place and on the job search – did I wear the right clothes? Did I have something in my teeth at the job interview! I have coffee breathe! Small stuff in the end is really just in our minds and we make a bigger deal of them than they really are. For example – you send an email to someone and they don’t respond …. You sit there waiting and waiting, clicking send and receive and still no response. All these thoughts then start going through your mind such as have I done something wrong? Or, why haven’t they responded! The reality might be they are just busy and in the scheme of things they have meatier issues to deal with. Therefore while your email might have been really important to you it might have been on the lower end of the scale to someone else. So, mentors help you put the small things into perspective and help you design tools and techniques for managing the day to day – including developing a routine.
#2 Puts in place a plan to focus on the bigger stuff: the bigger stuff is where you really want to be focused. Big stuff such as that promotion you are chasing, buying a new house or basically making a big decision that is life changing. Mentors really help you to shape the how to get to part of where you want to be. Only you can say where you want to be and where you want to go but as people we often don’t know how to get there. This is why it is important to plan. Here are five goal setting things to focus on from an article I read recently:
1. Set Goals That Motivate You: When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.
2. Set SMART Goals: You have probably heard of SMART goals already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be:
Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time Bound.
3. Set Goals in Writing: The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word "will" instead of "would like to" or "might." For example, "I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year," not "I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year." The first goal statement has power and you can "see" yourself reducing expenses, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked.
4. Make an Action Plan: This step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you'll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding, or long-term.
5. Stick With It!: Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.
#3 Shares the load with you: this is where it gets really important - mentors help share the load by giving you perspective and guidance - as well as the all important listening ear! So don't be afraid to reach out and find someone!
About the author: Mark Spinks is Chairman of Babana Aboriginal, a Indigenous men's group based in Australia that works to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into employment and economic opportunities. www.babana.org.au
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