Value of a mentor during a career changeFeb 09, 2023
Deciding to switch careers can be overwhelming, so it’s important to have people who can help you make that transition. Mentors are those people.
Take a look at who is in your corner now. This could be a manager, someone you worked with at a previous job, a friend who works in the industry or company you want to be at. From those examples alone, you have access to someone with leadership skills and influence, someone with a knowledge of your strengths and key abilities of their own, and someone with insights about where you want to be.
This is a great network that could also provide you with a great mentor.
Benefits of having a mentor
What exactly does a mentor do?
They share their career path with you and teach you what they learned about navigating the industry. They motivate you to pursue opportunities you otherwise overlook. They may even introduce you to some of these opportunities.
If you’re unfamiliar or new to an industry, a mentor can let you know everything they wish they knew when they were first starting out. From polishing your resume, to making an introduction to a professional in the company you want to work for, a mentor can be the bridge to your dream job.
Right off the bat, your mentor will know more about the industry than you. They have worked in it, they have the professional and personal experiences you will be jumping into, and they have reflections to share with you.
They will also have a better idea of what it is like to build a new career. You’re not starting from scratch, but some responsibilities and expectations will be different. Knowing what they are from someone who has experienced them will give you leverage.
It is quite the jump to go from the non-profit sector to the for-profit, corporate world. Your target audience is different. Working in reception in dentistry will be different from working as a sales representative in fintech. Your stakeholders and board members are different. Work expectations and standards are different. Customer service has a new tune.
You’ll want to know what to expect and how to navigate interviewing in a whole new work environment. Mentors can give that to you.
Setting your career goals will be central to your transition success. Working with a mentor who has the context of the company or industry you desire will help make your goals SMART:
If you need to earn a few more certifications, refine some skills, or even just work on your resume and portfolio, your mentor can make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Unlike a teacher or prof, they are not breathing down your neck to evaluate you with a pass or fail. They have your best interest at heart. They have seen the vision of where you want to be and they are doing their best to help you get there – by helping you honour your commitments. Mentors provide accountability that will get you to your goals, faster.
As they hold you accountable to your goals, they can provide feedback to help you perform better.
Do you need someone to read your resume for a company they worked at three years ago? Do you want someone to critique the way you answer an interview question? Do you need someone with ten years of experience to tear apart a design or code or schedule you are working on so it’s in its best shape before you show it to your target company? Mentors provide the feedback so you can refine your products and services before you present them to the people who are deciding if they want to hire you or not.
Experience & Connections
Mentors have this discernment for career hopping because they have work – and life – experience. They have most likely experienced what you are going through, seeing the highs and lows of their industry work. And now they can share that with you.
On top of that, they have met plenty of people who worked through those highs and lows at the same time. The connections a mentor can provide are limitless. It could be a colleague, a team lead, or even someone who worked on their team. The point is, mentors have enough experience in the professional world that they have a few names under their belt, ready to share with you if they believe it's in your best interest.
How to find a mentor
Mentorships can be formal or informal. Take the workplace. Some companies have mentorship programs where employees sign-up to be a mentor or mentee and are matched with others to kick-start their relationships. There may be designated out-of-office events for this or mentorship meetings you take on the clock.
Other times, the mentorship flows naturally out of a supervisor or manager relationship.
But mentorships can also happen outside the workplace. If you don’t think someone you work with can provide you with the mentorship you need or you are currently looking for a job, there is still hope for you to make a great connection.
Online mentorship websites
ADP List gives users access to over 14,069 mentors across over 5000 companies for one-on-one relationships. When you are searching for a mentor, you can filter them according to your needs including:
- Job position
- Level of their career
Source: ADP List Mentor Explore
Here are some of the current industries you can seek a mentor in:
- Design – 9667 mentors
- Product Management – 3515 mentors
- Data Science – 190 mentors
- Content Writing – 393 mentors
- Marketing – 1289 mentors
- Software Development – 1674 mentors
- Product Research – 2602 mentors
PushFar is a company that helps people find a mentor and become mentors. With free registration, you can meet a global community of people seeking professional development.
When you’re building your user profile, you can include your industry, most recent job title and company. Then you move onto the areas you’re trying to develop. If you want to work on improving your job search, networking, general general advice, or anything else, the program will match you with mentors who can help.
Pushfar also provides resources to enrich your mentorship experience. They have remote mentoring guides, resources about mentoring with diversity and inclusion, and a list of the best questions to ask your mentor or mentee.
If that does not convince you, trust Capterra, a Canadian business software rating website where Pushfar has maintained a solid five-star review.
Mentorcity makes connections between potential mentors and mentees through a cloud-based mentoring software. User profiles can include languages and specialized skills. It also organizes your connections so you can monitor your progress and stay on top of who you’re meeting and the goal you’re reaching.
Mentorcity also offers courses with Mentorcity On Demand. You can learn about the foundation of strong mentorships in classes taught by professionals with decades of experience in career and employment services, management, and recruitment. Mentorcity users have seen progress in as little as three months.
One customer’s testimonial shares about how Mentorcity took her career to the next level:
There are also a few industry-specific online mentorship programs:
- MentorCruise for tech, design, and business
- GrowthMentor for growth hackers interested in startups
- Pelion for tech careers
Of course, LinkedIn is on the list. As a social networking website designed to make connections between working professionals, it’s a great place to establish mentorships.
But it’s important to know what type of connection you have with someone so you know how to approach them. LinkedIn has three types of connections: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
1st connections are a direct connection. You may know them in your daily life, or you are at the very least connected online. They may be a bit familiar with you and could be open to meeting for coffee or taking a call. Be professional when you reach out, but a bit more personal.
2nd connections are people who are connected to one of your first connections. They could be in the same industry, they are engaged with the same posts you are interested in, or they have many mutual connections. Your proximity could help you make a connection. When you send a note to connect, try bonding over your mutual connections’ industries, talent, or news that may be relevant to them. This way, your potential connection can see that you are making an effort to connect and you could be a close connection like the ones they already have.
3rd connection means they are not connected with you or your connections’ connections. This is where you are very professional and to the point. Start with your name, ask how they are doing, and if they have time for a conversation – but give them something compelling to make them say yes.
Their LinkedIn page will show you their recent activity. Comment on something they shared. Congratulate them on their successes. Ask them about an endorsement they have or how they developed a skill or acquired a certification.
The only way to get a mentor to help you develop is to find someone worth seeking mentorship from. You won’t know until you find someone whose career you admire.
Whether they are online or in-person, mentorships are a great place to meet like-minded career professionals who could become valuable mentors.
Conferences can be busy, so they may not be the best time to ask someone to be your mentor. The event is more about the building blocks. A conference is where you introduce yourself, share your skills, then invite a more personal connection through an online meeting or a coffee later on in the week.
If you are attending a conference, make sure to research the speakers and as many attendees as possible. Know their work history and prepare questions to ask them. Show that you’re interested in what they do. Build connections in where your previous work and work desires meet.
Consider making a business card to hand out so people can put a name to a face. Here are a few design and card delivery websites to work on:
A day or two after the conference, reconnect through a message and continue to work towards that conversation to start a mentorship.
From mentor to transition
Your desire to switch careers should be very clear to a mentor from the beginning. Not only will it help you as you set career goals, but it will kickstart the process of finding any industry connections to get you closer to your goal.
With your polished resume, newly developed skills, and guidance from your mentor, your successful career transition is sure to come.