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How to Become a Career Mentor

You’ve been working in your industry for several years now, inching your way up from the lowest level, making mistakes, bouncing back, asking the right questions, and climbing the ladder rung by rung. You know you haven’t gotten this far on your own—Plenty of others have helped you along the way by offering advice and setting a successful example. And now that you’ve arrived, you’d like to give something back by acting as a mentor for someone else.

If this describes you, you’re on the right track. Helping someone else is a great way to enhance your own career, and chances are, you’ll learn as much from your mentees as they do from you. But before this happens, you’ll have to establish a strong mentor relationship in the first place. Here are a few ways to get started.

1. Look around. Are there any younger or less experienced employees who you interact with on a daily basis who may already see you in this light? If so, take steps to formalize this arrangement. Ask them if they’d like to commit to weekly or monthly meetings, reading assignments, and feedback sessions. Let them know your reasoning, and let them know that you see potential in them and would like to help them reach their goals.

2. If you don’t see an obvious choice for a mentee, consult with mangers or company decision makers and encourage them to help you or to pair you with a younger employee who may be looking for professional guidance from a personal source.

3. Keep the relationship focused on your mentee’s goals, not your own goals or the goals you would like them to have. Before you pontificate or offer answers, make sure you listen carefully for the questions that interest your mentee the most.

4. When you don’t know, say so. But when you do know and you do have the answers, speak up. Be generous with your wisdom. Draw valuable information and helpful narratives from your own experience.

5. Document the relationship and your mentee’s progress as well as you can. In terms of growth and professional progress, milestones aren’t really real until they’re written down. Use your documentation to help set the course for future sessions, and call upon your records before you write recommendation letters, share testimonials, or help your mentee land a promotion or new position.

For more on how to build a relationship that can help both you and a mentee move your careers forward, contact the staffing and career development experts at Personnel Services Unlimited.