Designing your career support team

Brainstorming in the office
© Getty Images/ferrantraite

Getting appropriate and adequate career guidance is critical, yet also challenging. When a variety of opinions are overwhelming you, I recommend implementing what I refer to as the 5-50-100 rule to ensure the advice you are getting – and following – is balanced and suitable to your needs. Let me explain who the people are you should be targeting to obtain holistic career guidance.

5 % ahead

The first person you should consult is the one who is slightly ahead of you. This person may have just landed their first job, or recently successfully transitioned into a new industry. They will know what it’s like „out there“ on the job market in the last six to twelve months and be able to give you concrete, up-to-date tips and tricks.

100 % achieved

This person has had a successful career and is moving towards retirement. They may or may not know about current trends on the labor market in your field – but that doesn’t matter because that’s not their advice-giving specialty. You’ll want to ask this person about how they balanced life and career goals, power moves they made, and what they wish they would’ve done differently. This person provides you with perspective, often reminding you that your career is not your whole life and encouraging you to make the right moves while not taking things too seriously.

Designing your career support team

Building your support team takes time, and managing the differences between networking, mentoring, and coaching is key to building your team effectively. Here’s a refresher:

  • Networking: Connecting to and with others over shared interests on digital platforms or at in-person networking events. Networking is supposed to be mutually beneficial, where both sides gain something. Networking should be complimentary for both sides, though the platform or event may charge a fee.
  • Mentoring: Someone with a lot of experience is providing you with guidance. It may be ad-hoc, unstructured, and is likely complimentary. Mentors mentor to give back, not expecting much in return besides being able to pass on knowledge and shape the next generation.
  • Coaching: A trained, experience career guidance professional is offering a systematic method for approaching your career goals. This service is normally not complimentary, as the coach is tailoring their approach and service entirely to the student. An exception is career coaching provided through universities, which is often offered to students free of charge.

Finding your career support team

If you will be job searching soon, try to include a mix of networking, mentoring and coaching into your career support team. The Alumniportal offers one-on-one career coaching, a mentoring program and a mentoring contact function, as well as ample opportunities to network. In addition, check out your university’s alumni network, reach out to a peer in your graduating cohort, or message someone on professional social media who you noticed recently made a career move. If you are looking for work in Germany from abroad, make sure to include a mix of internationals and Germans in your support team. Look to the people who you admire – and don’t be afraid to reach out.  

Reaching out to your career support team

You’ll likely be met with open arms. Everyone is busy, so suggest an informational interview between 15-30 minutes. Remember that the focus is on them, not your job search, so ask about their experience and make sure to prepare for the call by reviewing their LinkedIn or Xing profiles. The people following labor market trends and correctly managing their career networking know that the newcomers today may likely be the bosses tomorrow. 

Take the 5-50-100 rule and start building your support team today. Check out the Alumniportal’s , and .  

Read more articles by Jessica Schüller on the Alumniportal

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