How to Find a Career Mentor (Definition and Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're at a stage in your career where you feel like you want to achieve more growth, working with a career mentor can help you to progress. Career mentors can provide good insights into your working situations to identify opportunities for growth in your career or a clear sight for your career path. Knowing what a career mentor is can help you gain a trusted guide and advisor to help you decide what you want to achieve in your career. In this article, we explore what a career mentor is and show you how to find a career mentor.

What is a career mentor?

A career mentor is someone who guides an individual through their work experience by offering advice to them in professional situations after building trust with them. A career mentor also responds to any concerns or questions someone has regarding their career path and guides you on how the professional industry works and steps you can take to be successful. Some ways a career mentor can help improve your career include:

  • identifying areas of improvement in your professional life and opportunities to improve

  • guiding or telling you the optimal way to communicate with your clients, colleagues or customers

  • giving you feedback on your work

  • building a professional network for you for future opportunities

  • providing insight and advice for your career growth

  • providing support during your job search

  • providing letters of recommendation for you during the hiring process

Related: 10 Steps for How to Make a Career Change (With Roles)

How to find a career mentor

If you feel that a career mentor can help you grow in your professional career, you can follow these steps to learn how to find a career mentor. A good career mentor can support you and assist you through your growth in the industry. Here are some steps you can follow:

1. Decide if you require a career mentor or not

Consider if a career mentor is someone you require to grow in your career and consider if you may be a good mentee. As a career mentee, you may want to possess the values that mentors are looking for as well. Some of the good values that career mentors usually look for include respect, willingness to work hard, flexibility, adaptability and being open to criticism and feedback.

Related: How to Find a Rewarding Career Path in 9 Steps

2. Identify your career goals

When looking for a career mentor, it's important to find the right people who can help you achieve your specific goals. It's important to find someone who already works in the industry you want to excel in because they may have the knowledge to guide and advise you in your career. These professionals can provide expert advice about progressing in your career.

Before finding a mentor, consider writing a list of your specific career goals. This can help you find the right person to help you achieve these objectives. For example, if you want to earn a promotion, you might find a career mentor who started in your current role and progressed to your ideal role.

Related: Career Goals: How to Set, Examples and Tips for Achieving

3. Consider your existing connections

There are a few places you can start searching for a career mentor. You can create a list of people in the industry who may seem like the right career mentor for you. You can also identify people who are already in the position you want to attain in the future. These individuals could also possibly be your career mentor.

You may also consider family members, professional associations, colleagues or even friends. Your network of connections is important as it may already consist of good mentors or professionals who can connect you with potential career mentors. After looking through your personal network, you can start expanding your social network and looking for successful people who inspire you in life.

4. Prepare a pitch

When looking for a career mentor, you might want to pitch to them to convince them to be your mentor too. Prepare a pitch that can help you share your goals with the potential mentor and why you feel that that individual is the right mentor for you and what you're looking for in them as a mentor. You can set expectations with them when reaching out to them, such as your goals, time commitment and what you may require help with. These expectations can help your potential mentor think about your pitch and if they can provide you with the help you require.

How to ask someone to be your career mentor

Before you ask people to be your career mentor, you may want to ensure that you're asking the right people. Being a career mentor involves a lot of time and responsibility and you may require setting up multiple meetings with them or convincing them of your potential to become your career mentor. Here are some steps you can follow to ask someone to be your career mentor:

1. Schedule a meeting with them

When you've found the person who you think is the right mentor for you, you can ask to meet them. You can email them to introduce yourself first and explain why you're reaching out to them. If possible, you may try meeting your potential mentor face-to-face after the first email. It's good to be patient since your potential career mentor may be busy and can they may take some time to respond to you.

2. Explain your reasons for seeking a career mentor

After meeting your mentor, you can share your reasons for looking for a mentor. You can tell them about your career goals and expectations and areas that you're looking to improve in. By explaining to them what you want to gain from this mentorship, they can better assess if they may want to accept you as a mentee. You may want to show them any written plans you may have prepared as they would realise that you're serious and committed to the mentorship.

Related: How to Make a Career Plan and Set Career Goals (With Benefits)

3. Explain why you selected them as a career mentor

Your potential career mentor might not know you, so it's important to share why you selected them as a career mentor. You can start off by saying what you admire about them and share your perspective on how they can be a good fit for you. They may be more likely to accept you when you can explain clearly what you're looking for in a career mentor and why you chose them as a career mentor.

If your potential mentor is unavailable to mentor you, you can always look for another career mentor. The first person you connect with may not be the right mentor for you, or they may be busy and not have availability. You can continue searching for other mentors who can help you.

What to look for in a career mentor?

When you're looking for a career mentor, you may want to find a person who can give you the right advice and insights to aid your professional growth. Here are some qualities you can look for in a career mentor:

Experience

Finding a career mentor with sufficient experience is important since a knowledgeable mentor can guide and advise you regarding your career. The right career mentor is successful in their field and has the skill required to help you advance in your career. They can be a director in a company of the industry you're looking to enter or someone who has a lot of influence in a field you're interested in.

Compatibility

You may wish to find a career mentor who is compatible and who has the same values as you so they can help you out in the right ways. It's also important for you to build a good relationship with your career mentor, so find someone you can connect well with. When looking for a career mentor, it's important to also be clear about your expectations and agree on them with your mentor. This helps your career mentor know what you expect out of them and they can know how to guide you to achieve your career goals.

Empathy

It's important to find a career mentor who has empathy because they may be more willing to spend the time and effort mentoring you through your career choices. It's important for career mentors to want to see your success and take responsibility in giving you feedback and advice for your career. A good career mentor is usually willing to share their skills, knowledge and expertise of the field with you.

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