A mentor is not a coach, not a friend and not a therapist.
A mentor is on a long-term journey with you, the foundation of the relationship is mutual trust and respect. Mentoring is often an informal association between the mentor and mentee, whereas coaching is more structured and formal. And friends are more relaxed with no expectations.
A mentor uses their experiences to guide their mentee, acts as a soundboard for ideas, and facilitates access to a wider network.
Another thing to consider is the motivation of mentors. These mentors are mostly not financially motivated but rather more keen to build their leadership skills, learn from others, give back, and overall find personal satisfaction from helping someone. “61% of people said that their mentoring relationships developed naturally.”
A mentor is proven to make a difference in job prospects, with research showing that mentees are five times (5x!) more likely to be promoted than people without mentors.
Everyone has blind spots, areas of work where you have no knowledge or experience. Blind spots can be a liability not only if we don’t know something, but because we may not know what we don’t know in the first place.
One example of a blind spot – not asking for support when needed, and possibly being unaware of this.
A McKinsey survey of 2,207 executives highlights the challenges of biased views. Of the executives interviewed, only 1/3 believed that the quality of decision-making was very good. On top of that, 60% thought bad decisions were about as frequent as good ones.
To reduce the blind spots and improve overall decision making, we must start with awareness followed by taking action(s) to develop ourselves, broaden our perspectives and for job hunting, think differently.
A mentor can provide mentees 360-degree feedback that a person needs to develop. Using the ‘blind spots’ metaphor, it is the same as checking side mirrors before changing lanes on a motorway – the mentor can raise the mirror to allow you to really see yourself.
Similarly to improving blind spots, a mentor can provide you with truthful, constructive feedback that can enable you to grow and work on areas that need improvement.
If you are willing to listen to feedback, PWC research shows 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion, “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”
Further, a mentor is normally not financially motivated, which also means that they can be real and honest as they have nothing to lose. When you receive feedback, you can be comforted to remember that the mentor has no ulterior motives.
However, the mentor can only observe and ingest your decisions before giving you feedback. The rest is always up to you! The trick is to be open to what you hear about yourself and to enter these discussions with an open mind and the motivation to change things if needed for your own benefit.
Did you know that up to 85% of jobs are filled by networking? It can take a long time to build a network across industries and to grow your list of connections.
A mentor who has experiences similar to yours likely already knows people that can help you and places where you can provide value.
A survey carried out by LinkedIn showed that 70% of people had secured employment through their network connections at companies that where they knew at least one person. If your mentor is open to it ask them to make introductions with people that you would like to talk to. Always remember that if you don’t ask, you will never know. Make the most of your mentors’ network to become increasingly connected with your top companies.
In most cases a mentor will be a cheerleader that champions your goals and advocates for you. This energy can really help transform the way you see yourself and boost your confidence when seeking jobs.
What may seem like a daunting and challenging potential role may become achievable and even exciting with the support of a mentor that you respect. A mentor can talk positively about you when you are not in the room and represent your interests and goals.
Having someone that believes in you can truly allow you to flourish. Advocacy from a mentor is a key part of broadening job prospects internally.
A mentor can only enhance, shape and inspire what already exists within you.
The mentor will interpret the life you have created for yourself and benchmark it against your goals to enable further development that can bridge the gap.
Whilst all this is happening, they will also remind you of the things that are your strengths and the different ways that you bring value to situations. A skill or strong talent without being nurtured can wilt, but with the right mentor, it can develop and become something even greater that can prove to be instrumental when applying for jobs or when interviewing.
Finally, like most things in life, with mentoring you gain based on what you put in. You get what you give.
Be mindful of the time that you are given by a mentor and come prepared with questions and asks to the meetings you schedule with them.
In addition, seek the right kind of mentor for the right time period. Be honest and open to feedback and remember that it’s a journey of self-improvement not only to broaden your job prospects, a lot of fun, and can be fulfilling.
Of course, when you do get the intro and then the interview, come back to Mockmate to help prepare the perfect conversation.