4 Traits to Look for in a Professional Mentor

4 traits to look for in a professional mentor

For many professionals, accomplishing your career goals come from time spent working hard. For others, especially successful leaders, that climb doesn’t have to be solitary.

To build your success and continue down a path of growth, seeking out a mentor is a helpful option. Mentorship can offer many benefits to both sides of the relationship. However, the challenging part is finding a good mentor for yourself.

How do you find the right fit? Here are a few important traits.

Do You Need a Mentor or a Career Coach?

Not every career development hurdle calls for the help of a mentor. Sometimes a career coach is better suited to your needs. While they appear similar, knowing the difference is the first step in finding an excellent resource.

A mentor is someone who can give you advice and support specific to your industry, role or organization. Typically, a mentor has the job you would like to have later in your career. Your mentor can help you grow professionally and navigate tough decisions by sharing tips relevant to your field or area of expertise that they have found helpful in their career path.

While mentors pass advice and guidance, career coaches generally work on more concrete parts of your career. They help refine your development strategy, discover your professional identity, and even improve with tools like LinkedIn.

When you’re sure that mentorship is right for you, begin to look around your network for someone who has experience that you feel could benefit you.

Can You Both Learn from Each Other?

Even though you are seeking out the help of your mentor, it isn’t only you who can benefit. Many mentorships are reciprocal; with the mentee gaining valuable insight, but also helping their mentor to develop.

In reverse mentorships, experienced executives work with junior employees. The junior employees pass on the knowledge they have as a generally younger professional, things like social media and digital marketing. In exchange, they build rapport and a network with the executives in their field.

Whether your mentorship is reciprocal or not, it is important that you focus on what you can do for your mentor to make it worth their time. Are you able to add to their business? How can your existing skills benefit them?

Making sure you are giving back will make it much easier to find a mentor who is willing to give their time and knowledge to you.

Do You Trust Them?

Trust is incredibly important in any relationship, but especially a mentorship. You will need to be honest and reveal private information to your mentor. Finding a mentor that you can trust allows you to be open with them and get the most out of your time together.

For this reason, you may want to avoid looking to your supervisor as a mentor. You won’t be able to give your honest feelings on your current position to them. Even if both of you strive to leave the bias out, it will inevitably creep in.

Similarly, they must trust that you will take their advice seriously. If your mentor is trying to teach you, but you aren’t implementing their lessons, it is a waste of their time. You aren’t going to find the perfect mentor in the first meeting. After you’ve both invested a lot of time getting to know each other and build trust, don’t take that lightly. Be ready and open to change.

Will They Push You Out of Your Comfort Zone?

No one learns anything by staying in their bubble and refusing to venture out. Connecting with a professional mentor who pushes you to leave your comfort zone will be able to teach you more. Eventually, if you want to improve, you’re going to have to jump in over your head.

When your mentor pushes you to go further than before they shouldn’t do so with no preparation, a good mentor will give you the tools to grow professionally, and then steer you toward situations that will require those new tools. A successful mentor/mentee relationship should combine a little fear with a bit of excitement.

If you’re ready for the next step in your professional journey, US Tech can help you find the position that will propel you toward your goals.