The benefits of having a job-search mentor

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Job searching can at times get lonely. Spending hours browsing jobs, interrupted by the occasional interview, can make a job seeker feel a bit isolated. It would be nice to have someone to go to for advice or inspiration or to bounce ideas off of. While friends and family are always there to help, they aren’t always objective, and if they aren’t experiencing what you’re experiencing, it may be hard for them to relate.

If you’re in this position, consider finding a job-search mentor — someone whom you know professionally, you look up to and you can count on for valuable advice. Beyond being a sounding board, mentors can provide guidance in what can often be a confusing and frustrating process. “Professional mentors can provide support, encouragement and career-related guidance while identifying and maximizing networking and career-exploration opportunities,” says Lynne Sarikas, executive director of the D’Amore McKim School’s MBA Career Center at Northeastern University in Boston.

Breaking down the benefits
David Sanford, executive vice president of client relations at staffing firm WinterWyman, shares the following advantages to having a job-search mentor:

  • You get a second set of eyes on your job-search strategy. While keeping your view and perspective in mind is most important, having someone in the boat with you that you can rely on and trust to steer you in the right direction will double your odds for success.
  • You’ll increase your networking opportunities. Not only do you have your own network readily available to you, but your mentor can open up his network, expanding your connection base and increasing your visibility and career possibilities.
  • You’ll receive objective advice. Your mentor should be someone who isn’t afraid to hurt your feelings by telling you when you’re heading in the wrong direction or playing the wrong hand. A good mentor will give you support when you need it but isn’t shy about giving you a wake-up call when you’re in danger of going down the wrong path.

Seeking out a mentor
If you aren’t sure whom to ask for help, Sarikas suggests tapping someone with more experience and in a field in which you aspire to work. By connecting with someone who has been in the working world for a longer period of time, you can learn from that person’s experiences — including both successes and missteps.

Consider contacting an old boss with whom you had a strong relationship or a colleague at a past company whom you admired. And it doesn’t have to be someone you know well; if you hit it off with someone at a networking event, don’t be afraid to reach out for his help. You might get the most impartial opinions from him.

Maximizing the relationship
There’s no point in having a job-search mentor if you don’t maximize the relationship to its full potential. Sarikas, who serves as a career coach to students, shares the following guidelines for getting the most out of your mentor:

  • Be considerate of your mentor’s time. Return phone calls promptly, and arrive on time for meetings.
  • Assume the relationship will strictly be professional. Let the mentor take the lead in making it more personal if desired.
  • Seriously consider all advice that you receive. Be open to constructive feedback, and seek it whenever possible. Do not get defensive.
  • Show evidence that you have utilized the assistance offered, and show appreciation for any and all assistance provided.
  • Look for opportunities to give back — share a relevant article, offer to assist with a new technology, or refer a qualified candidate.

Everyone is a job seeker at one point in his life, so most people will be willing, happy and flattered to help others out in their job search. Who knows — you may be tapped to be a job-search mentor one day.

Do you have a job-search mentor? Tell us about your experience in our comments section.

  1. I have a college counselor named Stan F. from College Careers who I have known half my life and he is my mentor. He has helped me get ready for college when I finished high school and he even been a huge part of my professional career as well. It does make a difference to have someone to talk to and support you in your job search. I have almost been out of work now for a entire year but with love and support from family and your mentor you will get through this tough time. Just stay strong, focus and determined your storm will end soon.

  2. Thank you, Debra! Today, so many job seekers overlook the value of a job-search mentor. While friends and family can be a huge help during the job search, especially when it comes to reviewing your materials and giving your advice, they certainly are not objective. Sometimes it can be hard to be give an honest opinion to a person that is facing a job search. A job-search mentor is someone that can give an honest and experienced opinion on anything job-search related, as well as provide a industry-related guidance. Build a beneficial and respectful relationship with your job-search mentor to maximize your results.

  3. At Westwood College our students begin working with our career service advisors from day one, and this post has several suggestions that are relevant to our students, helping them ensure they really maximize the resources available to them for advice. We will absolutely promote this post on our College & Career blog this Friday. Thank you.

  4. Great advice Debra. It’s amazing how many things another person spots when they cast their eye at a resume or review the jobs that someone has been applying to. I also recommend that candidates share their job search apirations / resume with friends, former colleagues, family. The extra eyes on the lookout for you as a candidate can turn up so many opportunities and spot shortcomings in your applications too.

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