How to Find a Good Career Mentor

Finding a good mentor
If you are on the verge of choosing your career, or have been in your current field for quite sometime, or haven’t received that long sought promotion, whatever the scenario, a career mentor can pull you out or guide you through any career-related crisis.

Yet, it is surprising to see that not many people have mentors, and there may be various reasons for it like, “a career mentor is difficult to find”, “if they hold high and authoritative positions, then they are not approachable”, and the most common reason of them all, “I didn’t feel the need to approach a career mentor.”

Having a mentor is like asking another person to look at your situation from a different perspective and in a new light. It helps! Trust me, it really does! Asking for advice from someone who has been in your field for a long time, helps us to learn from his mistakes and avoid repeating those in our journey.

Is it really so difficult to find a good career mentor, let’s find out.

Define! But Not Very Specifically

You need to have a clear outline of who you want to become. While looking out for a mentor, you have to be specific but not rigid. On a piece of paper, define your career goal neatly, but do not be too detailed. Then, look at your goal and decide who matches most of the characteristics. Is it your goal to become a department manager, or a managing director, or a CEO. Based on that, you have to search for a mentor. You manage to find a mentor, but he happens to be just a manager, don’t worry! He may be able to guide you devotedly, to become a CEO. That’s why I mentioned about being specific but not rigid.

Put the Word Out

Let the world know that you are looking out for a career mentor. If you are working in an organization, and are looking out for someone from the same field as a mentor, drop hints when you are in groups. You will start getting random suggestions, but there will be one who will give you a specific suggestion, and you will absorb it like a sponge. You can always approach him/her later and ask for some sit-down time to discuss topics. You can also go the extra step by talking to your HR manager, about your desire to know about the company executives. By doing this, you will come to know who is the right person to approach and in which department he works.

Expand Your Horizon

Don’t narrow down your search group. Knock on more doors to increase the opportunities for your mentor to walk up to you. If you are a member of any charity group or an NGO, you can ask other members for suggestions. You can look out for someone at your church, amongst your friends, on social networking sites, or someone whom you see when you walk your dog in the park. The point is to just spread the word and show eagerness. Who knows, your mentor might be standing in front of you and might catch your intense desire to succeed.

Utilize Your Social Networking Skills

If you are a member of social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook, then you can use these sites for mentor hunting. Yes! These sites can be used productively also. You can do an ‘Advanced Search’ by typing in your university’s name and check if any person from the alma mater has risen to a position, where he can serve as a role model for you. You can also search by typing in your zip code or city or town’s name and cross your fingers. If you are lucky, you may find someone just next block.

Mentor Goes, You Follow!

Not in a literal sense, but yes, you should go where the mentors gather. I intend to say that if you are interested in finding a mentor from the public health field, attend conferences that are held on such topics. If you are an entrepreneur and want guidance from a successful businessman, attend inaugural events of new businesses. You would get meet a handful of businessmen en masse. You should actively look out for such events, and then show up there. After you sit through the program and spot that one guy, who you think would be able to play the role of a mentor in your life, go and approach him after the program.

Practice Flexibility and Better Preparedness

This point does not tell you about finding a mentor but tells you about how to behave well, and develop a sustainable relationship with your mentor. Normally, your mentor would be at least 4-5 levels above you and would be busy. Period. Realize this fact and stick to the schedule. If you want to meet him, ask beforehand and practice basic professional etiquette. Agree upon your mode of communication if it is not possible for him to meet you every time. Ideally, you should keep in touch with him so that you remain in his thoughts, but that again does not mean bugging him with every little problem you face. And finally, when you meet him, be prepared with the questions that you want answered. Don’t just go around asking a general question like, how did you get into marketing, or how did you achieve this position? Ask a concrete question like, how did you crack that deal with XYZ company? Be direct and to the point, instead of beating around the bush.

Along with these points, you should also remember that your personality and thinking style should complement with that of your mentor. This point is essential because if you are a little laid back and modest, and he is a go-getter, then over a period of time, looking at your lame approach towards your career, he may loose interest in guiding you.

Therefore, keep your expectations real and be assertive. Exude optimum self-confidence and positive attitude, and I can assure you that you’ll not only find a good mentor for life but also form a lasting relationship, which will help you grow by leaps and bounds in your career.

Questions to Ask Your Employer Before Accepting a Promotion

Questions to ask your employer before accepting a promotion
If you are thinking that saying no to a promotion is not a good idea, this is far from true. Sometimes, a promotion comes with many details that you would not want, like, for example, relocating. This is why you should understand the finer nuances of the promotion before you say yes.

A promotion might also mean that you step into a half-completed project, or more likely, take the place of someone inefficient and lagging behind in work. This can cause undue stress in your life, and will make the promotion not worth it. Also, when employers know that a certain task is difficulty to achieve, they try to motivate employees by giving them a promotion before letting them tackle it. In most cases, the end result is failure, and the loss of a job.

There are many people who regret accepting a promotion because of such problems. Being completely aware about the different aspects of the promotion and questioning your employer about it can definitely save you from making such a career debacle.

Important Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Promotion

What are the changes in the compensation, perks, and benefits that you are offering me?

This is perhaps the most important question from your point of view. With an enhanced designation, your role and responsibilities will increase. Hence, you will get a hike in compensation, perks, or benefits. Ensure that your monthly take-home salary has increased considerably after the promotion. If you are going to work for long hours at a stretch, divide your salary by the number of hours, and see if you are going to earn more after the promotion or in your current position.

Remember that in some companies, promotion may not necessarily increase the compensation, or its hike may be limited. Hence, it is important that you know about the monetary and allied terms of your promotion before you accept it. Have a talk with your boss and negotiate appropriately.

What will be the focus of my new duties for the first six months?

You should know about the immediate focus of your work, or you may end up completing a task that may not be a priority. Also, your performance will be judged during the initial period, and you will come across as an irresponsible person if you are not aware about the long-term and short-term goals of your department.

Understand if there are any areas of concern that you need to know about. Needless to say, asking this question to your superior will portray you as an employee with good analytical and planning skills.

What are the responsibilities that I am expected to shoulder?

Unless you know what responsibilities are expected of you, it will be very difficult for you to perform well. Take your prospective boss out for lunch, and try to understand the working of the department. Know what the immediate and long-term goals are, that need to be addressed. Know about the priorities, and tasks which can be taken up later. Apart from your routine work, if you are going to be part of some work-related committees or interview panels, be aware about the same.

If your work includes a lot of public speaking, you will have to gear up for that as well. Whatever the amount of work, plan it properly so that you will not be bogged down by the stress of meeting deadlines.

What is the current situation of the work, and what does it need to be?

It may so happen that the person who has the left the position might have piled on a lot of work which will have to be sorted by you. Before accepting the promotion, understand what the current situation of the work is, and how long it will take for you to correct and finish it.

This will help you understand about the feasibility, time management, resource allocation, etc., for the completion of the work. Asking this question will give you a clear picture of the work to be completed. You can then plan and execute the work accordingly. However, make sure that you are comfortable with excessive workload and long working hours.

What is the new working environment like?

If your new working environment is going to be excessively stressful and physically draining, while the financial benefits are not too many, you may reconsider accepting the promotion. Also, ensure that your cabin has enough privacy to complete your work without any distractions.

To know about the nature of your job, consult your new boss and get a few details about the work environment from him. You can also ask other people in the department about the environment. This will give you an idea about the working environment that the new position entails.

Who will be my reporting authority?

This is a very important question. Get to know a little about your prospective boss from your current boss. Ensure that he is not a ruthless taskmaster who will easily steal your credit. Also, it is necessary that any future advancement in the organization is not impeded by a selfish boss who will not allow your work to come to the forefront.

If you speak to other people in the department, you will come to know about his personality. This will also help you to impress him and deal with him in a better way.

Who all will be reporting to me?

Though many people may not give this question much importance, it matters a lot. Especially if your subordinates include people who indulge in spreading negative gossip that can tarnish your image. If you did not get along with them in the first place, they are bound to make matters worse for you when you get an authoritative position.

Find out about the issues related to people or performance which you will have to address immediately. Knowing about the strengths and weaknesses of your subordinates will help you to delegate the appropriate tasks to them and deal with them in a way which they understand best.

What is the future growth for this position?

Don’t make this question sound as if you are asking for too much, too soon. Take your own time and pop it in the flow of the conversation. Do not accept a promotion without giving the future of your career a thought. Think about utilizing this position in such a way that it will help you to climb the ladder of success.

If it is hinting towards stagnated career growth with no opportunities for advancement, you may have to reconsider your decision of accepting the promotion. However, if it helps you gain a position among the top executives in the organization, then it is advisable that you accept the promotion.

Ask your employer about the challenges involved in the taking up a new position. You must know exactly which subordinate can act as a link between others and you. You can then make him your associate. Ensure that you know how much traveling comes with your new position, or you will practically end up living out of your suitcase. Apart from this, you need to first ask yourself if you are capable enough to handle the responsibility, encounter stressful situations, and take important decisions.

Now that you know about the questions to be asked to an employer before accepting a job promotion, you will be able to take a level-headed decision. As you will be constantly judged, add value by delivering innovative working practices which will benefit the organization.