How to Find a Mentor Step by Step
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 11, 2022 | Published June 21, 2021
Updated November 11, 2022
Published June 21, 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.
A mentor is an individual who guides you by offering advice, answering questions, and providing support. Finding a suitable mentor is important for long-term personal and professional development. In this article, we discuss the steps for finding a mentor and the qualities of an excellent mentor. We also describe how to ask someone to mentor you and tips to get the most value from mentorships.
How to find a mentor
Follow these steps to find a mentor who can support you in reaching your professional and personal goals:
1. Understand what mentorship means
Before you begin your search for a suitable mentor, ensure you understand what a mentorship entails. For example, if you're looking for someone only to support your short-term professional or personal goals, consider finding a coach or sponsor. Mentorship is a mutually beneficial and long-term relationship.
2. Define your mentorship needs
Outlining your career goals and evaluating your current career path can help you find the right mentor. Think about how you intend to achieve these goals and where a mentor may support you. Also, consider how you can positively impact a mentor. For example, you can plan to add value by recommending your mentor for leadership positions or sharing their impact with your network.
People want to mentor you if they see your potential and determination to succeed.
Related: How to Perform a Self-Assessment
3. Identify potential mentors
Once you're clear about your goals, start identifying potential mentors. Think about people you admire. Then, write down a list of candidates in the position you want to advance your career to. For example, if you're a cook looking to start a restaurant, consider choosing a chef as your mentor.
4. Review possible mentors within your network
There are various places where you can find a mentor. Narrow down your search by looking in your professional circle. Your former manager, a coworker in another department, family members, or friends could be suitable candidates.
Related: 13 Important Mentorship Skills
5. Prepare to ask your preferred candidate to be your mentor
Finally, prepare what you intend to say and why you think your preferred candidate is the right mentor for you. Also, identify what you expect from your mentor. Brainstorming a good elevator pitch provides your preferred candidate with what they need to consider your request.
Tips for choosing a mentor
Use these tips when deciding on a mentor:
1. Look for candidates with relevant experience
Your mentor should have more experience in a particular area or subject than you. Their experience could help you identify aspects for improvement and mistakes to avoid. For example, an experienced maintenance manager, as your mentor, can provide tips on managing your new team of maintenance workers. A good mentor is happy to share their skills, knowledge, and lessons from experiences.
2. Determine whether your preferred candidate's core values align with yours
Core values are fundamental beliefs, practices, or ideas that inform how you conduct yourself professionally and personally. While a good mentor offers a different perspective on issues or subjects, finding a candidate that shares your core values is key. Having a mentor in the same industry who values certain qualities helps for better mentorships. If loyalty is one of your core values, look for mentors who feel the same way.
3. Look for honest feedback
A good mentor is honest and happy to give you their sincere opinion about topics. They are comfortable giving constructive criticism or reality checks whenever necessary. They also seek to uphold their promises.
4. Find an emotionally intelligent mentor
Great mentors are also empathetic. They care about and invest in their mentee's growth. They have excellent active listening skills and are available to devote time to the mutual relationship.
How to ask someone to mentor you
Once you've thought through your options, start making plans to ask your preferred candidate to be your mentor. Here are steps to ask the question:
1. Schedule a meeting
Start by sending an invitation to your potential mentor. If you're connecting for the first time, consider sending a professional email or a message on a professional networking platform. However, avoid asking them to be your mentor in your introductory email. Seek first to build trust and learn about your potential mentor through a coffee meeting or discussing in their office.
Ensure you request enough time in your invite to describe your mentorship needs. Scheduling enough time also allows your potential mentor to ask questions about your personal or professional goals. Aim for initial meetings to last for 30 minutes.
Bring a copy of your resume to share with your potential mentor if you scheduled an in-person meeting. Otherwise, attach your resume to the invite.
Related: Guidelines on How to Network
2. Describe the guidance you seek
Next, clearly describe what advice or guidance you seek and your reasons. For example, if you're considering a second career option, outline that you know they made a similar career decision in the past. Then, explain why you'd like their guidance as you start your new career.
Also, explain why you selected the potential mentor without exaggerating their qualities or experience.
3. Confirm your determination to follow through on your plans
Once your potential mentor understands your needs, convince them you are eager to do the work it entails. Also, explain your commitment to applying the advice or counsel they provide you with. Describe your work ethic and any skill you have to show you can put in the required work.
4. Appreciate them for making the time commitment
Finally, thank your potential mentor for considering your request and having a meeting with you. People who receive requests to be mentors tend to be busy and are typically successful in their careers. It's important you respect their time and not ask for an immediate response. Instead, allow them to consider being your mentor.
Send a follow-up email after a few weeks of your initial meeting if you don't hear from them, and try not to be pushy. If you notice they don't reply after a few weeks, start shifting your focus to other candidates on your list.
5 tips to get the most value out of a mentorship
Apply these tips to make the most out of your mentorship:
1. Build an authentic professional connection with your mentor
Having a strong mentor-mentee connection is a good way to gain the most value from your mentorship. Use your interpersonal skills to ensure discussions flow naturally and are conversational. Also, consider sending notes or articles that interest them as a way of checking in. Mentors typically offer the best advice or guidance to people they enjoy relating with.
2. Be open to learning
Aside from doing the necessary work, being enthusiastic about learning can make your mentor reveal more opportunities to you. For example, if your mentor guides you through your new back office manager position, let them know you're open to learning how the position is different in other industries.
3. Be honest
You should feel comfortable talking to your mentor about your fears, concerns, and progress. If you need advice or want to add value in some way, ensure you clearly state it instead of expecting your mentor to pick up on hints.
4. Be proactive and prepared for discussion topics
Ensure you prepare items of importance before your meetings begin. Topics to have ready for a meeting include:
Situation advice topics
Career story topics
Being proactive involves anticipating issues and controlling them before they become urgent. This helps you meet targets, and schedule your professional calendar efficiently. You can also show this quality by adjusting your schedule if you suspect your mentor is running behind and will arrive at a meeting later than usual. Time with your mentor is valuable and you're both busy professionals. So make sure you schedule enough time with your mentor to get the most out of your meetings.
5. Show respect
Respect each other's time by being punctual to meetings and remaining within established limits. As a mentee, it can be tempting to ask your mentor their view about every question, especially if they agreed to be available outside your scheduled meetings. Save significant career questions or support needs for in-person meetings to show you respect their time.
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