Job Search Mentor

As with all things in life, it is not what you know but who you know. A mentor who has experience in or knowledge of the career field into which that you are trying to break can help direct you on the right path to success. Your mentor can help identify your strengths and weaknesses, and advise you on how best to market yourself and develop your skills. They may also have connections and can help you to get a quick 'in' to the career of your choice or an introduction.

Finding a mentor

You may already have a mentor, but not be aware that this is what they are doing for you. This person could be a work colleague, old boss, teacher, parent or friend. It may be someone you meet up with and discuss your plans, hopes, dreams and concerns.

They offer you some pearls of wisdom and a few constructive criticisms and ideas on how to focus your attention for a better result. If this person does already exist for you, then great. If not, then you could try to find one.

Some organisations and colleges already have mentoring programs in place, so find out if your employer or college has one. If they do not, consider the people you associate with and see if any of them are able to help you in this regard. Most people are happy to share knowledge in this way as it makes them feel needed and gives them a sense of self-importance.

Make sure the mentor you approach is in a positive state of mind and that their confidence, enthusiasm and positivity will rub off on you. If they are depressed or anxious, then that could have the opposite effect to the one desired on your overall performance.

Try to choose someone working in the same business that you are hoping to break into. This person may be someone who you feel could be a role model.

Qualities a Mentor should have:

  • Experience or knowledge of the career you want to break into.
  • Listening skills.
  • Able to give positive criticism.
  • Able to commit a certain amount of time on a regular basis (perhaps once a month).
  • Able to keep a confidence.
  • Sense of humour.
  • Someone you share a mutual rapport with.
  • Able to give feedback.
  • Positive disposition.
  • Intelligence.
  • Intuition.
  • Desire to learn from you.
  • Willingness to share knowledge.

Avoid a mentor:

  • Who is too controlling, needy or clingy.
  • Can't spare the time and seems reluctant to assist but agrees anyway.
  • Who is judgmental, or overly critical.

Arranging the mentorship

Discuss your expectations on both sides and the amount of time that both of you can commit and invest in the mentoring process. Also discuss a time limit, or at the very least a regular review period when you discuss how the mentor process itself is working. If it is working well you may both wish to continue. But it may need work, or it may be time to move on and find another mentor, or go it alone. Either way, review it regularly and when the time comes to end the association you can do so amicably and on a positive note.

Do not ask for more time than the mentor is able and willing to commit.