Do you have a mentor? Are you thinking about searching for one? There is a good reason why many professionals seek out people to mentor them. Having a mentor can have a significant positive effect on your career development. Below we’ll discuss :


what is a mentor?

A mentor is a person who can act as a coach or guide. They are someone you can confide in about your career. They can encourage you, challenge you, and give you advice. A mentor can be many different things depending on what you are seeking. They can be your source of motivation, emotional support, and even help you set career goals and make industry connections. 

It’s common for mentors to work in the same industry, but this is not always the case. Mentors can be a peer, but they are commonly in a management or leadership position.

Two woman sitting on a window sill looking at papers.
Two woman sitting on a window sill looking at papers.

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what’s the difference between a mentor and a sponsor?

A mentor is not the same as a sponsor. They can do different things to support you and your career aspirations. For example, a mentor is more of a guide. They answer your questions and give you advice. A sponsor helps you find opportunities. They can leverage their connections and act as your advocate. They can help you find new career opportunities and be a key factor in your career growth. While they are different, both can play an important role in your professional development. 

tips for finding the right mentor and working with them

Finding the right mentor is the key to a successful arrangement. It’s important to find the right mentor for you specifically. Here are some tips to help you find the right person and work with them effectively:

a mentor doesn’t have to be in senior leadership

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. While most people think of a mentor as someone in a senior position or someone with exceptional success, they can come from many backgrounds. 

The right person doesn’t need to be someone who is at the very top. Someone with a title or two above yours can be a great mentor. They can often be even more relatable because they were in your shoes in the not too distant past. 

Mentors also don’t need to be on the same career path as you. Don’t be afraid of a mentor in a different department or company.

set expectations

Setting expectations from the beginning is a key success factor. Be clear on what you want to get out of the relationship. Talk with the potential mentor about what they can provide. When you set expectations beforehand, you both know what to expect from the relationship. This will reduce the odds of issues and unfulfilled expectations occurring in the future. 

don’t be afraid to ask

You don’t have to wait for your company to offer a mentorship program. And, you certainly shouldn’t wait around for someone to offer to be your mentor. If you find someone you’d like to mentor you - ask them! But don’t be that person who asks for mentorship out of the blue as your first point of contact with someone. See if you have a mutual contact who can introduce you, you have something in common or try to build a relationship first before asking for mentorship. 

linkedIn is probably not the best place to be looking for a mentor

LinkedIn is great for a lot of career-related things, but it’s not always the best place to look for a mentor. Top performers and industry leaders get tons of offers for ‘coffee dates to pick their brain’ on the platform. You’re more than likely to be ignored. In-person contacts or people you have some tangible connection to are more likely to be fruitful mentors.

make it easy to be your mentor

Mentors are offering you invaluable insights and guidance. So, make it easy for them. 

Don’t be too demanding or ask for too much. For example,  a twice-weekly commitment may be a little much! Most mentors are busy people. So, be flexible and do your best to fit into their schedule. 

take the lead

Taking the lead not only shows initiative but also proves to the mentor you are taking things seriously and want to get the most out of the relationship. 

Figure out the logistics so they don’t have to, such as setting up the meeting place to call time. Be reasonable about timing and other commitments. Being a mentor is rewarding, but it’s a big commitment.

take your mentor's advice!

Be willing to listen to their feedback and integrate it into your work. There’s no point in having a mentor if you’re not willing to make changes. 

you can change mentors

It’s okay if you start working with a mentor and you find things are not working out. People change mentors all the time. Know that it's perfectly fine to change mentors as your career progresses. Someone who is a good mentor for you now, may not be the person you need in a year or two.

If you are looking for some job search mentorship, reach out to our recruiters at Randstad Canada. We’ll help you find the best job openings in your area

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