• Paul Rutherford


Updated: Jun 10

Dear 'Millennial Client'

First, please excuse the anonymity. Rather than use your name to shame, I’m defining you by your 30 years. Which, for the record, is half of my tally.

The difference between us was the reason our paths crossed. A mutual connection asked me if I would mentor you. Some grey hairs might help you clarify next steps along the great road less travelled by (aka your career).

I remembered how useful it was to receive this sort of help aeons ago, so I agreed immediately. My turn to pass on the baton. Almost three months later, here's advice offered in the spirit of Alan “Fluff” Freeman and his 'Pick of the Pops' countdown.

(If Freeman and his radio show were before your time, here's a taster):

"Straight in at Number Three, No Matter How Busy, Respond."

Our mutual contact first contacted me on 16 September. The next day, a note of introduction went to both of us.

It took you two weeks to even acknowledge it. That should have been a warning sign, but my good nature gave you the benefit of the doubt:

"Probably very busy in the post-Covid stampede."


"While the introduction is well-meaning, s/he might think this is a very bad idea, and possibly hopes that I will go away."

But I didn’t. Once a record has started, the groove will keep playing until someone lifts the needle. Neither of us did. Two weeks later you must have felt obliged to keep playing.

"At Number Two, climbing from twenty-seven in the chart, is Always Have Your CV Ready."

Our purpose was to talk about your career. It seemed reasonable to request a copy of your curriculum vitae (resume). Something to save us time, to get us both to base camp. When we scheduled a date to speak, you also agreed to send me your CV.

Ten days later, it appeared - the day before we were due to Zoom.

The typos and missing info was like receiving homework completed the night before. It was a wretched Microsoft design, supposed to make the sender look ‘professional’. Instead it looks like someone is completing an application form. Badly.

It was disappointing that you chose not to create a personal design, expressing your own intelligence and skills. Nor have it spell-checked.

I keep reading that we’re in a fast-moving, ever-changing world. The next opportunity may appear with the shortest-possible time window. Be ready.

(If you do need CV help, try this.)

"And still at Number 1, where it’s been for the past 2,860 weeks – since my fifth birthday – it’s Grandma’s Note at Christmas."

The Season's excitement always came with a virtual hangover that my parents wouldn’t let me avoid: Writing thank-you notes.

The gifts – socks, mittens, colouring books - may have sometimes seemed dull. But sending an appreciation was part of meeting the standards expected by each other.

It's still the oil that keeps the social machine turning over.

Today is six weeks since we spoke. Your silence has grown louder. Especially as I offered to pass the baton with your name to someone else in my network. Someone who could have been a direct career step.

That door is now closed. Rather than turning over the record and continuing the music, I’m lifting the arm and turning off the amp.

How busy you have been, how many other opportunity plates you’re spinning, I'm no longer interested. Not having the time or inclination to send a short message changes the nature of the mentoring I offer you...

You might be basking in seas of offers amidst 'The Great Resignation'. But it won't last. Economic and social patterns never do. At some point, someone you ignore or forget might be the one who can do you the most good, immediately or in years to come.

Courtesy 101

So my advice?

  • When invited, respond quickly, even if it's a 'no'.

  • Always be ready for an opportunity. Update your CV every quarter.

  • Offer thanks, as soon as possible.

I wish you well in whatever path you take. Like a labyrinth, the central goal of a career may be clearly in view, but the route is never straight.

When support is sourced or offered, treat it well - especially when you think you don't need it. Because there will come a time when you will. It always does.

And in that spirit... if you have been, thanks for reading.

#career #courtesy #mentoring #gratitude #countdown

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