Starting a new career or strategizing how to make moves in your current one can be a daunting endeavor. Where should you focus your energy? What are things that can set you apart and make sure you really shine? A career mentor can guide you on your journey and give you the wisdom to uplevel your career.
The most important aspect of a fruitful mentorship is, of course, finding the right mentor. When a career mentor isn't on the same page as you it could make things complicated. Finding the right mentor is important because, like any relationship, there needs to be trust and understanding in order for it to be successful. If the relationship between you and your mentor is rocky, or simply the two of you don't see eye-to-eye, you can end up wasting time instead of thriving.
Here are a few key things to look for in a good career mentor…
1. They're Highly Experienced.
When you are just starting out in a career or new field, naturally you're looking for someone who has “done it right” or is already successful in that field to help guide you. Take a look at the current organization and get an understanding of the hierarchy. Where do you see yourself going? What are you interested in learning more about? Find someone in that area who is recognized and highly experienced and don't be afraid to ask if they'd be willing to mentor you. Make sure that you are very clear on your objectives and what you hope to get out of the mentorship in your initial meeting with the potential mentor. This goes the same for a career you've been in for a while and are either interested in advancing or moving to a new area altogether.
2. Communication Skills Are Strong.
Having good communication skills is so important because if the advice you are getting isn't clear and concise, it won't be very beneficial to you. You're less likely to be successful when you can't clearly understand what you are supposed to do. A mentor should be able to clearly communicate to you what you need to do in order to achieve your goals.
3. They Really Know How To Listen.
This might seem the same as good communication skills, but sometimes you'll find that not all mentors are really listening to what your goals are. Instead, they might think they know what's best for you and direct you to different areas. We can be skilled in something and not be interested in it. A mentor will really listen to you and your interests. Combined with your skills, a mentor can guide you to help reach your full potential.
4. Your Personalities Pair Well.
It is so important that you and your mentor get along. Mentorship is like most relationships in your life; you both need to be on the same page when it comes to your goals in your career. When you like your mentor and vice versa, you are both more likely to succeed. You don't necessarily need to agree on every little detail though. When you have some opposing views, it might help open your eyes to new possibilities you didn't even know to exist. Or a mentor might help clear up any misconceptions you might have as well. When you're compatible with each other, you're more invested in the relationship and working towards success.
5. They Actually Have Time.
When a possible mentor is high-up in their organization, their schedules might not accommodate time for mentoring. They might be willing and eager to mentor, but they just don't have the time to meet regularly. These might be better suited to occasional advisory meetings as opposed to mentors. You need a mentor who has time to dedicate to really getting to know you and your ambitions and help give you the guidance you're looking for on a regular basis.
Once you find the right mentor, recognize that this is a two-way relationship. You need to be as open to guidance as they are to giving it. Be honest with yourselves on what you want, and be willing to accept opportunities for improvement when necessary. Also, keep in mind that mentors are usually doing this on a voluntary basis and taking time out of their busy schedules to help you. So take them seriously and foster the relationships as needed. When you find the right mentor for you and your career ambitions, it's a powerful thing!
Looking for a career mentor but don't know where to start. Find your perfect pair in the BossBabe Société. Learn more here!
Taharah Saad is a TEDx Speaker, serves as the President of the Arab American Women's Business Council and also a full-time engineer in the automotive industry. She is the Producer/Creative Lead/Host for the “Her Path to Success” series. Taharah specializes in topics of professional development, diversity & inclusion, work/life balance, and many more; however, her favorite titles are wife and mom. She is also the founder of @glassceilingbreakers and @detroit_bloggers on Instagram. Everything she does furthers her personal mission of helping to inspire, motivate, and empower women to achieve their best selves and success!