While there are many mediator qualifications out there, very few offer unlimited lifetime support once the course is over. And, from speaking to prospective trainees, this is arguably one of the first things they look for.
After all, there is an undeniable gap between training and finding cases, just as there is in any line of work: Great, you’ve got the qualification, but where’s the experience to back it up?
As such, “young mediators” (young in experience, that is) are often quick to ask, “UK Mediation, how do I go about finding cases?”
And, while we do offer more tailored guidance to our learners, here are our six top tips for finding experience in mediation:
Find a niche
With so many established mediation providers out there, it can be hard for a freshly-qualified mediator to stake a claim in the market. However, if you have a unique background or skill set, this can really help to set you apart from the crowd.
For example, we have had a couple of recent learners who were recently retired from the police force. With constabularies becoming a very common client for mediation services, they were able to use their expertise to find work pretty much straight away. After all, referrers from this sector feel much more comfortable entrusting their disputes to someone with experience of that kind of organisation.
This is far from the only example though. We have seen similar situations with NHS Trusts, universities, and the armed forces, where referrers have been keen to overlook a lack of experience in favour of someone with extensive sector expertise.
Use existing contacts
By far one of the most effective ways of gaining experience quickly, this is usually the first approach that qualified learners try. Depending on the kind of career they’ve had, learners have gone back to previous organisations they’ve worked with and informed them of their new mediation service.
This way, if any disputes come up in the future, they have been first in line should the organisation require a mediator. By already having that rapport and working relationship in place (and perhaps with help from a “mates’ rates” discount!), this can be an easy foot in the door to get your first mediation case.
As part of our accredited mediation training course, we strongly recommend that delegates take the opportunity to network and share contact details with each other. Not only can it be useful for discussing conflict situations with other like-minded individuals, we have often seen learners create working relationships too.
Past delegates, upon receiving their first mediation referral, have invited a fellow learner to take part in co-mediation with them. This can provide moral support to both mediators, as well as sharing the experience and helping to build both portfolios of work. This can also provide some nice opportunities for reflection after the case as both mediators can evaluate and talk through their performances.
On the other hand, some qualified learners may prefer to jump out of their comfort zone straight away. And, to these, we recommend approaching local mediation providers in their area for volunteering or observation opportunities.
Many local providers, specifically those in community mediation, are often swamped with active cases of noise disturbances or neighbour fall outs. Because of this, past learners have informed us of great success in using their widely-regarded qualification to take on cases, both supervised and unsupervised.
Join a mediation body
In addition to the qualification you receive, there are many ways to boost credibility when promoting yourself as a mediator. One suggested way is to become a member of a professional body or organisation.
And, while we would always recommend shopping around and asking them what they can offer you in return, our mediator training course does meet all of the necessary requirements to apply for membership:
• 40 hours of learning time
• More than 50% of learning time made up of case simulations and role plays
• Training on the ethics of mediation
• Assessed through both practical and written assessments
• A tutor-learner ratio of 1:10
Get yourself out there!
At the end of the day, becoming a mediator is just like any other business – if you don’t put yourself out there and promote your services, referrals probably aren’t going to present themselves on a plate for you!
So, get yourself a website, create social media business pages, and maybe even do some good old-fashioned print campaigns – anything that can get you in front of potential customers.
Most importantly, use the fact that you have an internationally-recognised qualification and a Code of Practice to back it up. We’ve put a lot of work in over the last 20 years to meet the required standards of AIM Awards, Ofqual, and ISO-9001, all so that the qualification gives our learners the best possible opportunity of becoming a professional mediator.
Not to mention, our ‘Accredited Mediator’ logo looks fantastic on business cards!
You can find out more about our accredited mediation training course here. And, of course, please do get in touch should you have any further queries about the post-course support we can offer you.