What Is the Role of a Mentor? (And How They Can Support You)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 12, 2022

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 provides counsel and resources to help other, often less experienced individuals, develop in their professional lives. These experienced professionals can guide others to advance in their careers and increase their self-worth and confidence. Learning about a mentor's role in your professional life can help you determine if seeking one is the right decision for you. In this article, we define the role of a mentor and list 13 ways a mentor can support you in your career.

What is the role of a mentor?

The role of a mentor is that of an experienced professional who offers advice and guides someone with less experience or knowledge, known as a mentee. Mentors are advisors who provide their mentees with information regarding their career path, motivation, guidance, and emotional support. For example, a mentee may ask their mentor what to do in a specific situation where they're unsure of the appropriate action. The mentor might then share advice that helps the mentee make an informed decision. A good mentor considers what's in the best interest of their mentee and serves as a professional role model.

Read more: What Is a Mentor? (With Benefits and Useful Tips)

13 ways a mentor can support you

Here are 13 specific ways in which a mentor can help you develop in your career and personal life:

1. Acting as a professional reference

Depending on how much time you spend with your mentor, you may use them as a professional reference for future employment opportunities. Not only can they talk about your relevant experience, but they can also highlight your professional growth and all that you've overcome and accomplished in your career. For example, they might highlight an example of when you overcame an obstacle to achieve the desired result or a moment when you impressed them. If other professionals in your field respect your mentor, having them speak positively about you can help you get a job.

Read more: 21 Thoughtful Gifts for a Mentor to Show Your Appreciation

2. Being a trusted confidante

Having a mentor means you have an unbiased person to advise you on various aspects of your career. A mentor can serve as a great resource, providing you with knowledge and becoming a trusted ally who can give you an honest opinion. For example, if you inform your mentor about a challenge you're experiencing at work, they might inform you of actions you can take to better the situation. Receiving advice from someone you respect and trust, such as a mentor, can help you make more informed decisions about your career.

3. Building your network

Mentors often provide access to new opportunities in your industry. Whether they introduce you to new opportunities directly, take you to relevant events, or introduce you to their network connections, their help can improve your career advancement. For example, your mentor might have a contact who is hiring professionals in a role that interests you. By introducing you to their contact, your mentor might help increase your likelihood of getting the job. If you have a mentor, consider discussing your interest in meeting new contacts and expanding your network.

4. Challenging you

Mentors can help challenge you to become a better employee and grow professionally by encouraging you to set goals and embrace new opportunities that you may not have previously considered. For example, a job opening for a more senior position might become available. Instead of thinking you're not ready and ignoring the opportunity for growth, your mentor may challenge you to put forth your best efforts in the application process and apply. Even if you are already self-confident, having a mentor you respect telling you that you're worthy of an opportunity can encourage you to pursue it.

Read more: How to Find a Mentor Step by Step

5. Encouraging you to adhere to schedules

Once a mentor gets familiar with your schedule and various projects, they can determine the time you require to complete each assignment. They can offer reassurance if you feel you lack sufficient time or offer strategies to help you improve your time management skills. For example, a mentor might advise you on the importance of adhering to a schedule and share tools, such as applications, that they've found helpful in their career. You can then implement these strategies to ensure you complete assignments on time and impress your supervisor.

Read more: How to Be a Good Mentor

6. Helping you increase your salary

Using a mentor's specialized knowledge often makes career advancement easier, which then presents new opportunities for higher compensation. A mentor can also assist you in getting promoted, negotiating a higher salary, and finding options that allow you to earn more money. For example, you might be unsure of salary standards if you're at an entry or mid-level job. Having an experienced mentor who knows salary standards for your industry can inform you if a salary offer is fair or not.

7. Improving your morale

Mentors who share their wealth of knowledge and experience can help you develop your skills and feel more competent at your job. Feeling like you can do your job well may help increase your mood and happiness, improving your overall job satisfaction. Sometimes, it takes hearing that you're doing a great job from someone you respect for you to believe it. For example, a mentor may praise you when they think you've accomplished an impressive task at work, making you consider your efforts and feel proud of your achievement.

Read more: 13 Good Mentor Qualities (Plus Tips on How to Find a Mentor)

8. Offering a new perspective

Having a mentor can help you gain new and unique perspectives that you may not have previously considered. For example, they may help you develop strategies or solutions, present you with new ideas or concepts on how to complete a task, or help you with your self-discovery. For the latter, mentors can help you better understand who you are and what you want to achieve in your life, making it easier to set goals.

Read more: Coach vs. Mentor (With Tips on Selecting the Best Fit)

9. Offering guidance

Mentors can use their specialized knowledge and experience to offer you expert advice to help you grow as an individual. For example, a mentor can explain how they achieved their success and offer you advice they wish they had known when they were at your stage of career development. Consider asking your mentor specific questions so that you receive actionable steps you can take to achieve the desired result. The advice and insight you receive may help you make wise choices in your professional development, gain knowledge, and reduce any learning challenges you may face.

Read more: 11 Questions to Ask a Mentor

10. Providing constructive criticism

Mentors can offer you constructive criticism to help you make positive improvements in your professional development. Compared to the more general advice provided by friends or family members, a mentor's specific and actionable suggestions can help you grow in your career. They might draw attention to your mistakes and areas that may benefit from development, highlight what you're doing well, and help you establish stronger working relationships. For example, your mentor can let you know if developing a specific skill might allow you to achieve your goals and then share advice on developing it.

Read more: 13 Important Mentorship Skills and Why They Matter

11. Setting achievable goals

Mentors often keep mentees accountable for their various goals. They can even help you set specific and measurable goals to advance your career. For example, your mentor might consider their experience when helping you set a goal by ensuring you set ones that, by working hard, you can achieve. Mentors provide clarity on how to reach your goals quicker and can advise you on the best steps t take.

Read more: What Are Mentoring Goals? (How to Set Them and Examples)

12. Speaking words of encouragement

When problems arise in your professional life, mentors offer much-needed support. Having a source of positive encouragement during challenging times can give you the motivation or confidence to keep pursuing your goals. For example, if you share your frustrations with a difficult coworker, they might advise you on how to turn your feelings into an opportunity for professional growth.

Read more: How to Build a Successful Mentor Relationship in 5 Steps

13. Sharing their honest opinions

Mentors are likely to give you an honest opinion on various aspects of your career development. You can make strategic decisions to benefit your career with their honest feedback. For example, if you're working on a new project, a mentor can help you see which ideas have potential and which need improvement. This information may provide you with a greater chance of success.

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