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How to Find a Career Mentor

2 months ago by Saima Chadney

How to Find a Career Mentor


It can be hard navigating a career in a world of endless opportunities and choices. Even if you have a specific job in mind, the road to getting there is never straightforward. 

Having a mentor to act as a helping hand in your journey is one of the most effective ways to keep you on track in your career. They provide invaluable advice, encourage skill development, and give you the expertise needed to stay focused and on track in your professional life. 

What is a career mentor? 

A career mentor is essentially a work fairy godmother. They sit down with you, share all their knowledge and let you in on their top tips and tricks that helped them achieve their goals so that you can become just as successful. 

This type of relationship can be particularly valuable for individuals who are new to an industry, whether they have recently entered the sector or are transitioning from education to the job market. It's common to feel uncertain about how to advance your career in these situations. A mentor, with their first-hand experience, can provide invaluable guidance on navigating your industry, helping you identify the best strategies for taking the next steps. 

In addition to this, mentoring can be equally beneficial for those in senior positions. If you're facing a tough decision or finding it challenging to communicate your ideas confidently at work, a mentor can provide the guidance and support you need. In fact, studies indicate that87% of menteesreport increased self-confidence since working with a mentor, leading to greater empowerment in the workplace.

How to find the right career mentor 

Now, let’s look at how you can find your very own career fairy godmother!  

Step one: Establish your career goals 

Before you begin the search for a mentor, ask yourself exactly what your goals are. 

What do you want to accomplish in your career? Be specific with your aims and create both short and long-term goals. Where do you want to be in six months? A year? Five years?What are your current struggles? Do you know what’s holding you back? 

Having these answers clear in your head will help you find the right type of mentor for you. For instance, if you are facing obstacles related to being underrepresented in the workplace, a mentorship program that focuses on identity-based support would be most advantageous. On the other hand, if you are transitioning to a completely different career, you may require a mentorship program that prioritises assisting you in obtaining the necessary education and qualifications.

Step two: Research and network 

Once you’ve nailed down your goals, it’s time to find people who have been successful in the things you aspire to do. If you’re already working in the relevant industry, make use of your existing network. This could be a former boss, colleague, professor or even family member. If you’re switching careers, you’ll need to connect with new people. Find out the names of successful leaders in the sector, scan their LinkedIn profiles, read about the work they've done and see if it aligns with you and your aspirations. 

Step three: Reach out 

The next step is to contact the potential mentors and ask them if they are willing to do it. This bit can feel quite intimidating but there’s honestly no reason to be scared! After all, requesting someone’s help is a huge compliment! The best way to make first contact is by sending them a short email to introduce yourself. Start by sharing a few things you admire about their work. Then explain where you are in your career and what your goals are. End the email by asking them if they’d be willing to meet up over a coffee or a quick video call to have a chat about mentoring. Be patient here, it may take a couple of weeks for them to respond and you may have to send out quite a few emails before you get a yes! 

Step four: Get to know your mentor

The initial meeting should be spent getting to know the potential coach and assessing whether the relationship is going to work. Don’t just ask questions about their professional life, get to know them personally too by finding out about their hobbies and other interests. Do you have anything in common with you? Do you share similar values? If there's good chemistry between the two of you, it's a sign that there is potential for an effective mentoring relationship. 

It’s also important to assess whether they have a general willingness to help you. A mentor should be able to show compassion for your situation and be excited to help you find your way. If they're not showing much interest, there’s no point in taking it any further. 

How to maintain the relationship with your mentor 

1. Be consistent 

How often you meet with your mentor should be decided from day one and kept consistent i.e., every two weeks, every month, or every two months. This will ensure you stay on track with progression and that you are making the most of the relationship. 

2. Accept feedback and constructive criticism 

Remember, your mentor is the expert. Whatever you’re struggling with, they’ve probably been already through it. Listen to the feedback they provide you and act on it.

3. Keep them updated 

Send them emails about your achievements and how you’re getting on in your journey generally. They want to see that the time they’re investing in you is having a positive impact and that they are part of what is helping you get closer to your dreams. 

4. Make it a two-way relationship 

Since they’re helping you, why not ask if you can do anything for them? Find out if they need some assistance on a project they’re working on or if there’s anyone in your network that would be useful for them to be connected with. 

Ultimately, while it might take a bit of time to find the right career mentor, once you do, the relationship you nurture is worth it. They’ll show you the ropes of your field, help you develop the skills needed to succeed, and provide you with the right guidance when challenges come your way. 

No matter where we are in our professional lives, having someone cheer us on and give us a helping hand when times are tough is always beneficial. We all need a career cheerleader, now go find yours!

Looking for some help in finding your next role? We’ve got you! At Gleeson, we specialise in just about every industry and sector, from engineering and manufacturing and IT, to human resources and marketing. Find a division and get in touch, or you can leave us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.