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Question:  “My boss, “Debra,” has been a wonderful mentor. As a result of her mentoring skills, I was recently offered a job with another company at a 30% pay increase. I would like to repay her by doing some “reverse mentoring.” Debra oversees a department of 125 people, manages a $3 million budget and has an MBA. She is also one of the smartest people I know. However, top management here frequently fails to recognize excellence.

After 27 years with this company, Debra finally seems ready to move on. She has been asking me questions like “What else do you think I might be qualified for?”  How can I help her?” —Grateful to My Boss

Marie’s Answer:  How ironic that Debra can guide you toward a better future, but can’t do the same for herself. Suggest that she consider these steps:

•    After 27 years in the same place, Debra may lack confidence in her marketability. To get an idea of her worth, she should contact recruiters who specialize in her field. Most of them will be glad to talk with an experienced executive who has an MBA. 

•    Before making these contacts, Debra must create a well-designed résumé that highlights the most marketable aspects of her background. By consulting job search books and web sites, she can learn how to make her résumé sparkle.

•    Debra should also increase her involvement with professional associations, management groups or civic organizations. The best job opportunities are usually transmitted by word-of-mouth, so networking contacts are essential.

If Debra is responsive to your “reverse mentoring,” perhaps both of you will have exciting new jobs in the future. For Office Coach suggestions on mentoring relationships, see What Should You Look for in a Mentor?.

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