How to get a job as a mediator

Published: 25th January 2011
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Mediation in a increasingly popular career choice. However if you are not an experienced mediator then finding your first job can be exhausting. As someone who has seen the mediation field explode, I found it frustrating to see the inflated qualifications that were stopping new mediators from entering the conflict resolution profession.

Here I present my best practice guide to getting your first mediation job...

1.Develop a niche

The catch all term of mediation covers many areas. Being a successful mediator is all about being an expert in a specific area of mediation.

Try to cover all areas, and REALLY research what you want to specialise in. Popular mediation career choices include family, divorce, legal, corporate, community and conflict zone / international and diplomatic conflict resolution. Do some research into what is involved in each type and then start to market yourself in that field. Geography could play a big part in this too. Let's say for example you live in a city that has loads of commercial mediators - all that competition mean that it would be a lot harder to break into. If you absolutely have a passion for a certain type of mediation, consider moving to an area where there is a market. Lastly in your niche try to set yourself apart from other mediators in your field.

2.Know where to look

A career in mediation in one full of competition - learn where to look to get a head start. If you're only using generic job boards you will struggle to find a job. Being a mediator is a niche career choice, so you must look for jobs in the right places. The internet is the most useful tool you have. Learn where the best online communities are (Beyond Intractability and Conflict Gateway both offer regularly updated jobs boards). Also remember that communities are about contributing. Don't just register and wait for jobs. Being more involved in these online communities means making more contacts - this can open doors for you. I once got offered the chance to go to Malaysia and mediate a crisis with local farmers purely off of making connections on an online mediation job board.

3.Pro-bono is a massive plus

Experience is essential for gaining a career in mediation - forget the qualifications. It is a chicken and egg scenario that must be worked around if you are to have a successful career in dispute resolution. Offering your services for free is a good way around this. Local councils in England and America offer volunteer mediation programs. They are great for gaining practical experience and getting a well known employer on your resume. You can also advertise your services for free on social media networks in Linkedin and on groups. Don't be afraid to cold call companies offering your servcies, you must act like a salesman to get your foot in the door. Eventually you will see offers to take up cases coming your way.

4.Mediators are happy to help

Most qualifies mediators are lovely people - get in touch with them and don't be afraid to ask for help. Perhaps you have identified the niche you are interested in by now? Then why not do some research and contact some of the leading mediators in that field? Please don't worry about asking for insider tips or how they got started - they will be happy to tell you. Be careful though not to look like you are out to try and steal someone elses client base. Remember as well that most mediators will be glad to answer questions but that does not make them your go to contact - try not to pester them too much. Be sure to ASK FIRST if you can keep them as a contact.

5.Navigate the qualification maze

Not all mediation qualifications are created equal! And as the old adage goes "buyer beware". In some states almost anyone can set themselves up as a mediator with little or no qualifications. It is vital that you research courses before paying for them. Even if you have a Degree or Master's degree in a related field, you will likely have to take one of the accredited courses before serious job offers will arrive. Look for courses that have a practical element. The most reputable courses will make you do 40 hours of real world mediation work before they accredit you. These types of course will not only give you experience but also useful contacts.

Whatever path you choose, mediation is a rewarding career, both spiritually and financially. Follow these tips and you will soon be on the path to mediation career bliss.

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