About the programme

Steps Ahead is a free national mentoring programme supporting people to be in a better position to find work. It is delivered by the CIPD, a registered charity that champions better work and working lives.

Across England, Scotland and Wales, jobseekers are referred to Steps Ahead Mentoring by referral partner organisations such as Jobcentre Plus. You can also refer yourself to receive support.

You will get one-to-one remote support from CIPD members, who volunteer their unique insight and knowledge of the world of work to help you develop your confidence and skills to be in better position to find a job in the industry of your choice.

Together with your mentor, you will work on what you find most challenging, from creating a great CV to developing your interview technique.

In response to the pandemic, we are currently supporting young people starting out in their careers (aged 18-24) and parents and carers (of any age) who want to return to work after a career break. Sessions are taking place remotely (telephone, email or video conferencing).

We are currently offering the programme in an extended format, Steps Ahead Plus. We are working on developing a short-term, bite-sized format which will focus on specific employment challenges, such as interview technique.

On Steps Ahead Plus, you will work with your mentor over a period of several weeks to build your confidence and skills.

You will have one-to-one remote support for up to 22 weeks, held over a minimum of six one-hour sessions.

The type of support you get depends on you and what you find challenging, but could include advice on CVs, application forms, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, mock interviews and practical advice and support to succeed in work.

The programme is free. It is run by the CIPD and delivered by volunteer CIPD members.

The programme is open to people who meet our eligibility criteria and expectations.

To be eligible you must be:

  • aged 18-24, or a parent/carer looking to return to work
  • Out of work or looking to change your career
  • a UK resident with the right to work

We are particularly interested in supporting people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

You can be interested in a career in any sector or industry to take part.

You can access the programme in two ways:

  • One of our referral partners, often Jobcentre Plus, will refer you. If your work coach thinks the programme will benefit you, and that you will commit and engage, they will recommend that you register.
  • You can refer yourself directly, via our website.

We expect you to:

  • Be reliable and committed to attending sessions
  • Be open to developing skills
  • Be motivated and willing to accept constructive feedback
  • Be work ready or an employment alternative (for example, apprenticeship, traineeship, work placement)
  • Be willing to dedicate time to follow up after sessions (for example, update CV, draft cover letter, etc)
  • Complete a post evaluation survey at the end of the programme

We also encourage mentees to share their experience to inspire others and help promote our programme. This is voluntary but is beneficial to enhancing your professional profile and attracting potential employers.

  • Up to 22 weeks of support covering a minimum six hourly sessions.
  • This is typically arranged as three hours each month for sessions and follow up work.
  • Free advice and support from an expert in the world of work.
  • Confidence and professionalism during interviews and beyond.
  • Ability to talk about your goals and work interests.
  • Advice on the areas you feel you find challenging, for example, application forms and covering letters.
  • Learn where to find suitable work opportunities.
  • Ability to talk to a professional in a relaxed and informal environment.
  • Receive a CIPD Certificate of Completion (by request only).

The mentors are all members of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. They work in all kinds of organisations, across different sectors, but their extensive experience of what employers look for will be useful to you, no matter what type of career you want.

They have volunteered to take part in the programme and are taking part because they want to share their experience and help you to be in a better position to find work, as well as develop their own mentoring and coaching skills.

If you decide to continue the mentoring relationship beyond Steps Ahead Plus, this must be mutually agreed with your mentor. If this commitment is made, this no longer falls under the responsibility of the CIPD and the Steps Ahead Mentoring programme.

Registration process

After submitting your registration form, you will become a Steps Ahead mentee and should receive a confirmation email. Mentors will now be able to see the following information about you:

  • where you are based
  • job sector interest
  • why you'd like a mentor
  • how you were referred to the programme (for example, via Jobcentre Plus or self-referral)

Please note that your name and contact details will only be available to the mentor who matches with you.

Once you are matched with a mentor, you will receive a confirmation email. At this stage your mentor will gain access to your contact details and will get in touch by email and/or text. You will also be able to see their contact details if you log back on to the Steps Ahead Mentoring portal.

If you don't hear from a mentor within one week of receiving confirmation that you’ve been matched, please contact the Steps Ahead Mentoring team via email at mentoring@cipd.co.uk.

If you have already registered, email mentoring@cipd.co.uk with your name to confirm that you no longer wish to be mentored and we will remove your details from our system.

If you don't receive a confirmation email once you have submitted your registration form, please check your 'Junk Folder' in your email inbox. There is a chance that it might be in there.

If there isn't an email in your 'Junk Folder' then please email the Steps Ahead Mentoring team at mentoring@cipd.co.uk. We can confirm if we have received your details.

Once you’ve checked your internet connection and PC/laptop/tablet/phone device and are still experiencing problems, please email mentoring@cipd.co.uk.

On the Steps Ahead Mentoring login page there is a 'forgot my password' button. Please use this to generate an email to your account which will allow you to re-set your password.

What if I have further questions?

If you can’t find the answer to your question in the FAQs, contact mentoring@cipd.co.uk. It may take up to five working days to receive a response.