How To Choose a Mentor in 5 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published February 15, 2021

The right mentor can help you choose attainable professional goals and reach those goals with personalized guidance. Many professional and personal factors can influence how well a mentoring relationship works. Considering these factors and researching how potential mentors can help you is an important part of finding a great match. In this article, we discuss several techniques for finding a mentor that is right for you.

What is a mentor?

A mentor is an experienced professional in your desired field who has achieved success and is willing to build a working relationship with you. They can help you achieve your personal career goals through a connection built on common values and personality compatibility. Mentors can be managers, more experienced coworkers, former professors or professionals in your network.

Read more: How To Find a Mentor

Why should you work with a mentor?

There are many advantages to having a professional mentor, including:

  • Feedback and guidance: A mentor can shape your own professional journey by giving you feedback and advice.

  • Hiring assistance: When you need specific professional help, a mentor can guide you in crafting resumes and cover letters, as well as serving as a reference.

  • New perspectives: A good mentor can give you new perspectives on your career and provide you with unique ideas and approaches, broadening your understanding and making it easier to respond to challenges.

  • Professional knowledge: The knowledge you gain from having a mentor can give you more information about your industry and help you understand the latest developments and methods in different fields.

How to choose a mentor

Several factors are essential in making mentorship valuable for both parties. Both compatibilities and differences are important to consider, and both can add valuable attributes to the relationship. By finding the right mentor, you can build a solid foundation to make this new professional relationship as healthy and beneficial as possible. Here are some steps that can help you choose a mentor:

1. Pick a mentor who shares your values and definition of success

When you're looking for expert advice, it's important to consider your own character traits and values and seek out someone who shares those with you. Some differences between you can help bring new perspectives, but shared objectives can enable you to build a strong relationship. If you and your potential mentor have the same goals for your work and your industry, you can more easily understand their approach, and they can tailor their advice to your specific situation.

If there's someone in your network that you're considering as a mentor, you'll already know a little about whether the two of you are compatible. When you're looking to make a new connection, research into their career, professional connections and online presence can help you make an educated judgment about their values and motivations.

Related: Character Traits: Definition and Examples

2. Find someone who has attained specific goals that you are aiming for

Whether you are looking to change careers, move ahead in your current position or industry or give your career a strong start, it's important to think through the specific goals you'd like to achieve. Once you know what you are trying to do, you can narrow down your pool of potential mentors.

If you're working toward a specific job title, you might find someone who fills and exceeds that position in a way that you admire. If your goal is to transition into a new field, it's a good idea to do some research about the career paths of potential mentors so you can find a model. When you're trying to start a new business or work for a specific company, someone who has done it before can guide you best.

3. Look for someone able and willing to build new relationships

Both you and your mentor need to have the time and energy to build a new professional relationship. And as your mentoring relationship grows, a mentor who is active in your professional field can broaden your network and introduce you to more opportunities. They should be invested in your success, which can help you develop detailed goals and the steps to achieve those goals.

At the beginning of your mentoring relationship, you may want to spend more time communicating with each other, whether it's in person or via phone or email. As you become more familiar with each other, you may only feel the need to check in occasionally. Considering the time investment throughout the relationship can ensure you both are committed and willing to work together.

4. Select a mentor who has differences that can challenge you

While compatibility is important, it's also helpful to think about how a mentor can help you grow in new ways. If you have a professional challenge or weakness, a skill you are looking to master or a new field you'd like to work in, try to find someone who has mastered that. They can help you grow in that area by giving you the specific tips and resources that their own personal experience has given them.

In addition to diverse abilities, consider looking for a mentor who has a different approach or background than your own. In a relationship founded on shared professional values, a diversity of experiences can help you both integrate more mindfulness into your professional processes and see new solutions to your challenges.

Read more: How To Ask Someone To Be Your Mentor

5. Meet with your potential mentor

When you've found a potential mentor, have a meeting to get to know them before officially asking them to be your mentor. A conversation over an in-person lunch or coffee can help you double-check your compatibility and see how closely their personality matches what you found out through your research. This meeting can also be a great time to talk about what they're looking for in a mentee and whether that fits your personality and career stage.

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