Mentors are great. Everyone should have at least one. Even the best leaders surround themselves with great talent and advisors who can counsel them on specific areas of expertise. Although a CEO’s leadership team or a president’s cabinet may not be seen as a team of mentors, in many ways they are. They bring a level of experience or professional wisdom to the table that a leader can call upon when needed. They help guide executive decision-making.
You may not be able to build a team of experts around yourself to serve at your beck and call, but you can keep company with talented friends, colleagues and leaders who can all serve as mentors. Most people are complimented when you seek out their knowledge and wisdom, so don’t be fearful of asking for it. As long as you are not requesting serious time commitments for advise from a mentor, most wise sages will be happy to impart their knowledge and advice.
And don’t think of a mentor as someone older with more executive experience. A mentor can be far more junior but simply more proficient or knowledgeable in particular areas. Millennials with their technology and social media skills can be great mentors to older, less tech-savvy professionals. Plus age is not an indicator of maturity. Keep your mind and eyes open for mentors of every age. More importantly, think about what it is you are seeking from a mentor, then find the person with the right capabilities to fit the bill.
What about mentors when you are seeking a new career path? Can they help? Of course. Mentors can help us at any stage of our life or career. However, be sure to keep in mind what you want from a mentor. Every mentor, like every networking contact, can help keep an ear to the ground for open positions, but you may have mentors who can do more, such as review your resume, coach you through interview preparation, teach you how to negotiate compensation, direct you on how to learn a new professional skill or become a better leader.
How can you leverage your mentor relationships in your job search? Ask for help, but don’t expect a mentor to do work for you. While a mentor might be pleased to review your resume and provide feedback, few will turn cartwheels at a request to help you rewrite it. Seek advice and direction and be respectful of a mentor’s time.