Choosing the right mentor for your career is important. You might think your mentor should be someone in your company with more experience who can guide you as you progress. But this type of mentor may not be able to help you beyond your current workplace. They can offer advice and leads, but their influence usually stays within the company. So, it’s essential to consider whether this kind of mentor is enough for your career growth beyond your current workplace.

When you’re seeking advice from someone experienced, it might feel like you’re on your own. But fear not! There are mentors outside your organization who can assist during your transition.

Instead of relying solely on colleagues, consider reaching out to industry- or profession-focused mentors. These mentors have broad knowledge across different companies and fields. You can find them in various places like professional groups, recruiting agencies, or specialized law firms.

For instance, there might be a recruiter known for helping HR professionals in transition, and an executive from startup biotech firms who enjoys mentoring those interested in the field. Consultants and vendors are also great resources as they have insights from working with multiple organizations.

So, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from mentors beyond your workplace. They can offer valuable support as you navigate your career path.

Mentors focused on your industry or profession give advice on how to present yourself, which companies to aim for, and how to improve your resume. They might also suggest connections or introduce you to people. But remember, you have to ask for their advice and then act on it. For instance, don’t ask for feedback on your resume if you’re not willing to make changes. If they advise you to research for an interview, make sure you do it. These mentors are known for their helpfulness, so they don’t want to waste time. If you don’t follow their advice, they’ll likely move on to help someone else.

Keep in touch with your mentor by trying their advice, thanking them, and asking questions. Even if you’re not interested in a job they suggest, it boosts your reputation to be referred. Update them regularly on your progress.

To find mentors focused on your industry or profession, try these simple steps. First, join a professional or industry association and attend their meetings or local conventions. Look out for names that frequently appear as speakers or sponsors, or those who receive awards from the organization. You can also ask around for recommendations from people in the field.

Another way is to check conference programs for the names of consultants and vendors who work with association members. Since they’re likely present at the conference, approach them and explain that you’re in transition, seeking mentorship. Keep in mind, you’re looking for experienced individuals known for their willingness to help others.

Sometimes, you might meet a senior person during your search who takes a genuine interest in your career. These unexpected mentors, whom we can call “surprise” mentors, often enjoy guiding others despite their busy schedules. Pay attention to those with whom you share a special connection, and follow up with them regularly.

Remember, mentors find personal fulfillment in helping others advance in their careers. To repay their kindness, consider “paying it forward” by becoming a mentor yourself. Volunteer for professional associations or conferences or offer to share your industry insights at local colleges. Let your mentors know you’re giving back to the community.

Lastly, when you secure a new job, express gratitude to all who assisted you. Provide them with your contact information and offer to help others in transition, just as they helped you. By showing appreciation and staying connected, you may continue to benefit from their mentorship even as you settle into your new role.

This article has been referenced for HBR. To read the complete article click here

About High Potential Career Planning:

An initiative of ACH, High Potential Career Planning (HPCP) is established with a mission to mentor professionals in their search for career development and growth. We provide personalized mentorship programs, which can help individuals have a fulfilling career.

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