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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Always let your mentor be your guide

Getting ahead in information technology (IT) takes more than just the requisite technical skills; it also pays to have someone pulling for you, according to a new survey.

More than half (61%) of chief information officers (CIOs) polled said they benefited from having a mentor at some point in their careers.

The majority (71%) of those who missed out on having a mentor felt it would have been easier to advance if they had an experienced advisor on their side. The poll includes responses from 270 CIOs from a stratified random sample of Canadian companies with 100 or more employees.

It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis.

Canadian CIOs were asked, "Did you, at any time in your career as an IT professional, have a mentor, either formally or informally?" Sixty-one per cent said "yes" and 39% responded "no."

Those who responded "yes" were asked, "Which one of the following is the single greatest benefit of having a mentor?" Their responses: Serves as a confidant or advisor 39% Provides insight into a particular field or industry 36 Provides encouragement and/or boosts morale 20 Provides introductions to key networking contacts 5 100% Those who responded "no" were asked, "Do you feel having a mentor would have helped you advance more easily in your career?" Their responses: Would have helped a great deal 29% Would have helped somewhat 42 Would not have helped at all 6 Don't know/no answer 3 100%

"The technology field is fast-paced and competitive -- new hires, regardless of their experience level, must make immediate contributions in their roles," said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "While it's certainly possible to succeed without guidance from a more tenured colleague, having this support can make it easier to advance professionally.

"Mentors often serve as sounding boards at critical points in one's career development. They can provide insight on corporate protocol, make introductions to key industry contacts, and give up-and-coming managers an insider's perspective on the business," Lee said.

Stephen Mill, regional manager for Robert Half Technology, noted that mentors also benefit from these relationships.

"For people who have climbed the corporate ladder, there can be tremendous satisfaction in sharing knowledge and expertise gained along the way with professionals just beginning their careers," Mill said.


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