You hear a lot about the importance of having a mentor for your career development. But what makes a good mentor? A few simple suggestions can help you find the right person, or persons, to guide you.
- A mentor should first of all be someone you enjoy being with and truly respect and admire. If you don’t enjoy their company, it’s not the right choice.
- The mentor should be someone who naturally cares for you, believes in you and encourages you. The relationship should be warm and heartfelt.
- A mentor should be a good teacher and enjoy that role. If the person can’t articulate how they learned and pass that learning on to you, it would be hard to gain much from their experience.
- A mentor should be able to help you define your dreams and focus on setting your goals. They should be able to ask the right questions and give you the freedom to search for your own answers.
- Mentors should be 100% honest with you about your abilities, your progress, and your chances of success. Sometimes it might be hard to hear, but in the long run you will be more successful focusing on skills that are your strongest and identifying the areas where you need more work. An honest mentor would make this happen.
- Most mentors are going to be older than you are, or at least more experienced. They should make a good sounding board and have a broader long-term perspective of your career area and your role in it.
- Have more than one mentor! You may not find one person who can guide you in all the areas of your career. So have one who gives you support and encouragement, one who gives you training and advice in areas you where you need help and another who may be able to introduce you to people who can advance your career.
Every mentor will have strengths and weaknesses just like you do. But it’s always better to have capable support than going it alone. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. When choosing the right ones for you, listen to your intuition. If they don’t have your best interests at heart, it’s probably not a good match.
Yes, you might have more than one mentor. You may find one person you focuses on you and your abilities, and another mentor who can guide you in the intricacies of your chosen field.