January is “Mentor Month”.  But I say make every month Mentor month!

During this difficult economic climate, and given the staggering numbers of those of us in career search and transition, mentoring has taken on an entirely vital and important new meaning.

For the presently employed to take time and offer themselves as a resource (or reference) to those who are looking can make an immeasurable positive impact. The advice I have received from experts in the field I’m trying to get into has been invaluable and I’d like to share some guidelines that I’ve learned along the way

Social media networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter have opened up an amazing contact pool.  But, I always caveat my request for information with the fact that I am interested in helping that person out first.

I want to be an example to my network and always offer to help out or provide some value first, before asking anyone for their time.

Most professionals I have contacted are empathetic and genuinely want to help.  Many have been in my shoes (or heels) before and want to do something positive.  More importantly, they have been generous of their time and experience.

I have received amazing advice during my research, and provided with feasible and realistic road maps.

What can I offer people who already have jobs?

Well, I share with them my own experience and knowledge, research, relevant articles and links, or pertinent legal regulation (helps to have a law degree), and even topics of interest, i.e., women’s issues, minority/diversity interests, etc.  Look at all that you have to offer. Never devalue that. The people you are asking information from may indeed find it of considerable value!

I am most happy when I can serve as the “connector” between and among my connections.

The most amazing and ironic gift is that but for being in job transition, I would not have made these new and inspirational friends, advisers, and mentors. And I am grateful for this opportunity.

Their generosity inspires me to reach out to others who may be hesitant during their own job search.  And in full circle, I too find myself coaching and mentoring others (something that I truly enjoy).

Here is my homework for you: call or email just one person who is job searching right there next to you.  Offer them your time, whether it be to talk about work, family or world events.  Human contact is the food that nourishes us all, and positive inspiration is the dessert.  Pay it forward!