Personalised support (usually one to one, but in some instances group career
guidance/coaching can be appropriate) can come from mentors, role models
or professional career coaching/counselling services. Support can be
provided in a number of ways: face-to-face, on-line, by email, over the
telephone. The type of personalised support that is appropriate for you will
depend on your individual needs and circumstances, and in the case of paid-
for services – your (or your employer’s) budget. You may be happy to plan
and manage your career without any personalised support – this is entirely up
In this section we have tried to provide an overview of the different types of
personalised support to help you identify what might be right for you.
Mentoring is the process in which one person (the mentor) is responsible for
overseeing the development of another person (mentee) outside the normal
line management arrangements.
A mentor is:
an experienced individual, willing to share his or her knowledge with
someone less experienced, in a relationship of mutual trust;
outside the mentee's direct line management structure and appraisal
someone who has the respect of the less experienced mentee, not only in
terms of their breadth of experience and professional knowledge, but who
they are - i.e. their influence in the organisation;
someone who has a wide range of skills to facilitate learning in a focused
and intensive relationship;
senior to the mentee.
The mentoring relationship is a confidential one between mentor and mentee,
where both parties feel able to talk freely and openly about anything related to
their work. It therefore requires mutual trust. Mentoring is seen as an activity
that doesn’t require the more rigorous training or professional
qualification/accreditation of a career coach/counsellor. Emphasis is placed
on a mentor’s work experience and personal qualities. A mentoring
relationship is likely to be longer term, and will usually last for as long as it is
of benefit to the mentee or both parties.
For a fuller explanation of the mentor/mentee relationship, the role of a
mentor, the skills needed and how to set up a mentoring arrangement, see
the “Introduction to Mentoring” document, which is available to download from
the “Seeking Support” page.
CSYH is exploring the establishment of a cross departmental mentoring
scheme for the region. Our recently formed Yorkshire and Humber L&D and
Careers forum, will be looking at this in more detail. In the meantime, if you
want to find out more, see our “Events & Useful Contacts” page.
A coach is usually used for a specific knowledge and skill development issue
centred on job performance (this may involve personal issues if they impact
on the job) and geared towards organisational objectives.
The coach can be junior, the same level or more senior (the latter is less
relevant than it is for mentoring). However, coaching is a skilled activity which
should generally be delivered by trained people. It is better that the coach is
experienced and/or formally qualified as a coach.
Qualified and trained coaches may also offer career coaching, and career
coaches may also offer skill development/job performance related coaching.
So it’s always best to be clear about what level of support you are looking for
and what service is actually being offered, irrespective of the name being
In the more traditional sense, a careers adviser looks at the skills and
experience you have and then fits a career to those characteristics. “Career
coaching/counselling” (see next section) tends to be the term used nowadays
for services that go further than this ie looking at fitting a career into your life
as a whole, around the values that are important to you, with the sort of
people you prefer and within the working environment you prefer. However,
you may find that the terms “careers adviser” and “career coach/counsellor”
are used interchangeably, so (as before) it’s always best to be clear about
what level of support you are looking for and what service is actually being
offered, irrespective of the name being used.
If you are contemplating a change in career, feeling stagnant in your job or
just not sure what to do, employing a professional career coach/counsellor
may help you make an informed decision about your future.
Career coaching has experienced an explosive growth in recent years
(source: Guardian 2009 article). Not to be mistaken for life coaching (which
concentrates on personal development), or more generalised coaching (which
is used for specific knowledge and skill development issues centred on job
performance), career coaching is all about equipping individuals with practical
guidance on how to move up, across or into a completely new field altogether,
often taking account of personal and wider ‘life’ issues. (However, career
coaches may also offer skill development/job performance related coaching
so - as before- it’s always best to be clear about what level of support you are
looking for and what service is actually being offered, irrespective of the name
Traditionally an employee's career path has been left in the hands of a human
resources department, but with more and more individuals taking control of
their careers, the role of the career coach/counsellor is growing. At both
individual and organisational/corporate levels, career coaches are being
engaged to help on a range of areas including career development, career
change, redundancy, job hunting and recruitment and retention activities.
A good career coach/counseller can be the objective, fresh set of eyes to help
you look at (and importantly, not underestimate) your skills, experience and
what you have to offer to a prospective employer. They can help you to get
your CV together, coach you for interviews, give you access to specialist
resources, set careers objectives and support you through the job search
Coaching generally takes the form of regular sessions with the coach, either
face to face or more often, over the phone. The coaching relationship is likely
to be short term and sometimes for a fixed number of sessions that may have
been agreed at the first meeting (eg. 6 sessions over a specified period of
perhaps a few months).
The International Coach Foundation is the trade body which accredits career
coaches, throughout the UK.
Within the civil service, you can find out more about accessing the free
services of the cross government coaching network via:
http://civillearning.nationalschool.gov.uk/ . All coaches hold relevant,
You can also talk to an adviser by calling 0800 100 900 or visiting the
government’s Next Step careers advice service on
The FDA also offers members discounted career coaching and bespoke
programmes tailored to individual needs or the needs of your employer (eg
employer-based workshops and CV, application and interview support). See: