Whether you’re just starting a new job, or are a seasoned pro trying to climb the career ladder, it’s never a bad idea to find a mentor to help navigate the journey ahead. But what’s the best way to find a mentor who will be right for you? And if you have someone in mind, how should you approach them to see if they’re willing to fill the role?
“Know why you want a mentor, how you will benefit from the relationship, and how both the company and your mentor will benefit by investing their time and resources in you.”
That, says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” is the place to start.
“A mentor’s time is extremely valuable,” Cohen continues. “Without a compelling reason or real conviction, you don’t deserve to have one.”
Contacting human resources to find out if there is a mentoring program already in place is the next step. If one exists, find out if you’re eligible to apply.
“If a program does not exist, the human resources person may still be an important advocate in thinking through and arranging an introduction,” Cohen adds.
When identifying your ideal mentor, “Reach for the top of the ‘food chain’ to individuals in leadership positions who have a history with the company,” Cohan advises. “If you can justify why you deserve to be mentored and you can demonstrate that you will exercise good judgment regarding time commitment, you may find that the most senior people in your organization are not yet ‘spoken for’ or assigned to up-and-coming employees like you.”
When choosing a mentor, make sure that expectations are clear for both parties and that your prospective mentor is aligned with your career goals.
“A mentor is not intended to be your career coach to figure out your future or a confidante to vent your frustrations. The relationship exists typically to help sort through and navigate the politics, potential landmines, and resources available to help you achieve your goals,” Cohen says. “You must always emphasize that you will be respectful of their time and their other more important priorities. Above and beyond all else, they must believe that you are grateful for this investment in your career … so express your gratitude.”
As an alternative to your own company, look outside. Join an industry specific association where you will meet more senior people in the industry and develop informal mentoring relationships.
(Article written by Kathleen Furore)