Finding a mentor who helps you become the best version of yourself is an excellent career decision. It can boost your salary, career progression, leadership skills, and job satisfaction.
If you’re wondering how to find a mentor for your career, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about mentors and 8 strategies for finding the best one.
What Does a Mentor Do?
Mentors are people with more knowledge and experience than you who can help advance your career. They make excellent sounding boards and listen to your ideas, provide feedback, and push you to approach situations differently.
Mentors do the following for their mentees:
- Encourage but do not directly instruct how to do something
- Provide general guidance and help you figure out where you want to go without telling you precisely how to get there
- Take a long-term view of your professional growth
- Challenge you to approach problems or situations differently; point out blind spots
- Provide feedback when asked
Note that mentorship is not coaching, though the terms are similar. Coaches are usually in your life for a finite time to help you strengthen a specific skill or eliminate a behavior. They help you boost your performance in very specific ways.
Mentors, however, are long-term partners who offer general guidance, connections, wisdom, and support.
Who Can Be a Mentor?
Anyone can be a mentor, so long as they have experience and guidance to give. That said, who would best serve as your mentor depends on a few things. Here are some aspects to consider when finding your mentor.
Mentors are usually higher up the career ladder than you, working in a position you aspire to be in. Look for someone whose career progress you want to emulate.
Similarly, look for a mentor with a track record of outstanding leadership. For the mentor-mentee relationship to be successful, you need someone adept at providing feedback, pointing out blind spots, and generally helping people be the best version of themselves.
You may also want to consider a mentor with a similar demographic status. You may experience challenges at work based on your gender, socioeconomic status, race, ability, or other characteristics. A mentor who’s dealt with those challenges can better serve and relate to you.
8 Strategies for Finding a Mentor
Now that you better understand the mentor-mentee relationship and the type of person you’re looking for, here are some tips for finding a mentor.
- Is Mentorship The Right Fit?
Before finding a mentor, ask yourself if it’s the right fit for you at this moment. For the mentor-mentee relationship to be successful, you as the mentee must:
- Be coachable and open to constructive feedback
- Take the initiative to schedule regular conversations with your mentor
- Be comfortable discerning which bits of advice are worth taking and which are worth disregarding
- Constantly evaluate your career goals
- Be comfortable discussing with your mentor how to measure success in the relationship
- Be ready to commit to developmental progress and prepare to be pushed outside your comfort zone
If you’re ready for all this, then mentorship could be right for you.
- Know Your Goals
Finding a mentor that best suits your needs is crucial. To do this, get crystal clear on what you hope to get out of the relationship.
First, narrow down the industry and type of company you want your mentor to have experience with. Map this against your career desires. If you want to work at a fintech Fortune 500 company as a manager, find someone who’s done exactly that.
Next, consider which of the following you need out of the mentor-mentee relationship:
- General support and guidance
- Help determining your blind spots
- Performance coaching
- Guidance navigating an industry or achieving a position
From here, drill down on your mentorship goals for help finding a mentor best suited to your needs.
- Search Your Network
Review your professional network. Think about current or past coworkers and any connections they may have. See who best fits your ideal mentor.
- Other Sourcing Options
Finding a mentor doesn’t have to happen through your network. If that doesn’t turn anything up, consider joining professional organizations in your field or attending networking events. You can also search on LinkedIn.
- Make The Initial Ask
Wondering how to ask someone to be your mentor? First, come prepared to the initial ask with your elevator pitch on why you think this person is the best fit to mentor you.
Set clear expectations on the level of commitment and what you want from this relationship. Also state what would make you a good mentee, highlighting your coachability and desire to grow.
Once that’s ready, make the ask. An email or phone call can work; choose a method based on your relationship with the person. You can ask them to meet on neutral ground in a relaxing area, such as a coffee shop or in a park for lunch. A virtual meeting will do if the person is busy or far away.
As you prepare the initial ask, be honest. You can say something like: I’m going through a difficult situation at work and could use the guidance of someone I respect. You came to mind immediately, and I’d really appreciate your perspective. Would you be open to meeting?
Whatever the situation is that’s prompting your mentorship ask, be transparent about it.
- Not Everyone Wants to Mentor
Finding a mentor means realizing that not everyone can or wants to serve that role. Don’t take it personally if the first person you ask turns you down – better that than you’re stuck in a one-sided mentor-mentee relationship.
If you get turned down, thank them anyway and move down your list.
- Make it Easy on Them
To show your mentor how much you appreciate their time, handle the logistics of your initial meeting.
Get the Zoom link, find the in-person meeting spot, respect their time constraints, and buy their coffee/lunch/whatever it may be if you’re meeting in person.
- Prioritize a Company That Values Mentorship
Finding a mentor by striking out on your own can be challenging. Although it’s doable, to build the most effective mentorship relationship, you want to work for a company that values these relationships.
Mentorship numbers are expanding. Fortune 500 companies with mentoring programs outperformed the competition during the pandemic. Since the pandemic, 30% of companies upped their investment into mentorship programs.
Additionally, employee retention rates are 72% for those with mentors but just 49% for those without.
All this is to say that supporting mentorship is in a company’s best interest, so you should be able to find one that invests in these programs.
Perhaps the company you work for already values mentorship. If not, Jennings Executive has over two decades of experience matching companies with talent. We’ll find you an organization whose mentorship values align with your own. Learn more today!
We hope this guide helps you on your journey toward finding a mentor.