Identifying & Securing a Great Mentor

Dec 21, 2017

Identifying & Securing a Great Mentor

The importance of millennials in the workforce continues to grow, with recent research showing that they now represent the largest populous in the US workforce. In fact millennials planning to stay with their employee for more than 5 years are twice as likely to have a mentor compared to those that don’t (68% to 32% respectively). It is therefore no surprise that the conversation around the importance of mentor/mentee relationships has grown in the last few years.

Millennials have specific attributes that lend themselves to finding this type of engagement very productive – they desire career progression, they are collaborative, and they are very savvy at building networks. This is of course suggesting that other groups do not desire mentors, and excel with that type of relationship. Within this article we will discuss the key steps in your search for an outstanding mentor who will help you to grow from a career perspective.

1. Have clear requirements

Fundamental to having a successful mentor/mentee relationship is choosing the right person, both from a career and personality perspective. Put in the ground work up front and take time to consider what it is you are looking to gain from the relationship. Only by assessing what your personal requirements are, can you possibly identify a suitable mentor. Consider what experiences you want them to have had. Very often mentees look for someone who has had a successful career in their field of choice, but are a few steps ahead. Have patience – as with any relationship, it is important to not jump in too fast – find the right person for you.

2. Finding someone

The first thing I must tell you is that it is inadvisable to approach a complete stranger and ask them to be your mentor. Why? Because first of all the chances of them being willing to do it are very slim. More importantly, you need to know enough about them to be confident they are a good personal fit for you. Most people start their search within the workplace and their own network. Sometimes it works better to find somebody outside of work so that there are no conflicts of interest. If you have gone through everybody you know and not found a good match, consider how you can grow your network.

3. Secure your chosen mentor

Once you have identified someone you need to ask them. Be aware that mentoring is not for everyone – so try not to be disappointed if you get knocked back. The best mentor/mentee relationships are beneficial for both parties, therefore consider what you have to offer a mentor. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself to your prospective mentor and explain the knowledge, experience, and contacts you have. If they are interested it is a good time to ask them more about their experience as this will allow you to validate if indeed they are a good match, or not.

In Summary

When we talk about ‘securing a mentor’ it sounds like a very official process. However, some of the best mentors I have ever had never worn the badge – it was simply a relationship that naturally evolved. Sometimes it is as simple as admiring somebody and valuing their judgement enough to ask them for advice. However, if you are more actively seeking a suitable mentor, I would encourage you to review and follow the steps shared above.


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