Getting the right mentor makes all the difference for your career path

09 July 2018 - 12:00 By vincent solomon
Joyful young interns graduating from the medical university being mentored by the doctor.
Joyful young interns graduating from the medical university being mentored by the doctor.
Image: 123RF/Dmytro Zinkevych.

Statistics show that 65% of the jobs Generation Z will perform do not even exist yet, owing to the accelerated pace of change in business, the further development of technology and the shorter-than-ever lifespan of skills. As technology continues to drive the pace of change in business, it's up to employees and jobseekers to manage the development of their careers and skills.

Lyndy van den Barselaar, managing director at ManpowerGroup® South Africa, explains that one of the best ways to build new skills is through mentoring.

“No matter where you are in your career, being mentored by someone else in your company is a great way to learn and develop within an organisation. Your mentor can help you identify areas for growth and development, as well as provide a low-stress opportunity to have real conversations about your career,” she explains. “Alternatively, being a mentor to others can help build your own leadership skills by giving you opportunities to lead, listen, and identify and solve problems.”

How to Find a Mentor

It is very important that you get the right mentor, one who understands your struggles and can help you overcome them. “A good mentor is someone who listens well and helps you get past hurdles by encouraging you and helping you solve problems that hold you back,” says van den Barselaar.

One place to look for a mentor is your company's human resources department. Ask your HR department if the company has a mentoring programme you can join. If your company is too small to have an HR department, or your company doesn't have a mentoring programme in place, talk to your boss. He or she may be able to recommend someone.

If you are struggling to find the right mentor in your company, try going outside of your company, while sticking within the same industry. Try networking or volunteering to meet new people farther along in their careers.

How to Find a Mentee

If you want to be a mentor, finding the right mentee is a lot like the other side of the equation. Do some networking. “Talk to key people in your company about the type of person you want to be a mentor to, and be specific,” suggests van den Barselaar.

You may even have your eye on someone in your company that you see potential in. Open up the conversation and tell that person you'd like to mentor them. Check with your college or university - many have alumni/student mentoring programs in place that you can join.

Being a mentor to developing talent can go a long way to developing your own leadership and communication skills. By volunteering to be a mentor, you can help someone else build new job skills for tomorrow while pressing your own career forward with new job skills.

“With the lifespan of skills being shorter than ever, having someone to support you through your career growth and skills development is becoming a necessity – as individuals and organisations are needing to evolve faster than ever. The importance of having or being a mentor will only continue to increase,” concludes van den Barselaar.