A mentor someone who can support you in your career, alongside giving you feedback, knowledge and guidance. They may be someone who has gone through the same experience as you, has made mistakes and learnt from them, and can advise you in not making the same mistakes.
They are great if you are struggling with problems in your career, in relationships with your colleagues, or in understanding what your next career move should be as they've wisdom to give. They might also be able to help you build you professional network which can help you move forward in you career in the long term.
Anyone can be your career mentor, such as a family member, friend, colleague, aquintance or boss, and they don't even have to be in the same job role or field as you. And it's never too early or late to invest in one. If you are still in university or doing an apprenticeship, a mentor can still really help you define your career.
When looking for your mentor, here are some qualities that you will want to look out for. If the person you are thinking of asking to be your mentor has these qualities, then they are the one for you!
What Are the Qualities of a Good Mentor?
1. Wanting to Share their Experience
Your mentor will want to support you themselves and reap the benefits of being a mentor. They will want to share their advice, mistakes and experience and give you guidance, and advocate for you on your behalf.
2. The Right Expertise
You don't necessarily have to have exactly the same jobs or career paths, however a knowledge of your job role and industry is important. It's likely that your mentor will only be 5 to 10 years ahead of you as they'll have encountered the same situations as you, and not be too far advanced that your situation is unrelatable.
3. Ability to give Feedback
As your mentor has more experience than you they are likely to have better solutions to problems. This means that they can give constructive feedback when times are tough, and a good mentor will talk in a straightforward and honest manner. As they are supportive, you'll know that they are right and their feedback will move you forward in the right direction.
4. Ability to Listen
Before giving you advice on what to do, your mentor should be able to ask the right questions, and get an understanding of your feelings. They'll then be able to take onboard what you have said as well as their own experiences in giving opinions. It's likely that your personalities and career paths won't be exactly the same, so your mentor needs to put things in your perspective.
A mentor-mentee relationship is one that takes time to reap the rewards and benefits, so your mentor has to care about maintaining and growing their professional relationships over a number of years.