Search
Advice » Job Hunt Strategy» Professional Networking » The Woman's Guide to Fi ...
The Woman's Guide to Finding a Mentor

The Woman's Guide to Finding a Mentor

When executive mentor Bobb Biehl asks men if they admire and aspire to be like anyone in their own careers, they usually can name a few people. But the question stumps many women.

Often, these women are the first in their families to reach the upper echelons of business and don’t have much of a career support system. Like any pioneers, they tend to face new terrain alone, sometimes unsure where to turn, Biehl explains.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you are a student or headed for the top, you can benefit from finding a mentor or mentors. Learn about why it’s important and how to find the right one.

The Benefits of Having a Mentor

According to Biehl, people who have mentors usually have a more clearly defined concept of self and a network of contacts who can provide valuable resources when trying to meet their goals.

Many people report having more than one mentor, with each serving a different purpose -- from someone who helps them organize and achieve their career goals to someone else who supports their role as mother.

In fact, experts say women benefit most from finding a mentor. “Having a mentor helps women to have people in our life who care about us, listen to us and question us without any agenda,” says Jeanne Hartley, principal of training and organizational consulting practice Jeanne Hartley Consulting. “They celebrate our successes with us, and we can go to them with our doubts.”

Women particularly need this sort of support. “Women are making great inroads in middle management,” says Ellen Ensher, coauthor of Power Mentoring: How Successful Mentors and Proteges Get the Most Out of Their Relationships and associate professor of management at Loyola Marymount University. “But we haven’t made the same inroads to the top yet, and it’s harder to get there without mentors.”

Finding the One

You’re ready for a mentor if you’re willing to take advice and criticism, put forth an effort and maintain relationships. But not everyone is mentor material. Many liken the process of finding a mentor to dating, because you’re looking for someone with whom you have chemistry, feel comfortable, can communicate and share similar interests and goals.

Just as dating coaches advise you to cast a wide net when searching for Mr. Right, those who have been through the mentoring process suggest emailing or calling everyone you know to tell them you’re interested in finding a mentor. Be specific about what kind of mentor you need and your goals. Also, look for potential mentors around you. Is there a professor or executive with whom you have a connection?

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential mentors, ask each for a meeting. Have a list of questions ready to determine your compatibility as mentor and protégé. Does this person’s expertise coincide with what you need to learn? What experience does this person bring? Do you get along?

Also consider formal mentoring programs, often offered by companies or professional organizations. But if you don’t think you’ll find the right match there, have the courage to do an independent search.

Avoiding Mr. Wrong

Don’t take the similarities between dating and mentoring to mean you should merge the two. There’s no law prohibiting women from asking men to mentor them or vice versa; these associations are often quite successful. But make sure to keep the relationship all business from the start, say experts.

It’s best to avoid mentoring relationships where there’s a lot of sexual tension. “You must be present and use your intuition,” Hartley warns. “Don’t ignore signs of flirtation.”

The Proposal

Once you’ve chosen a mentor, the next step is asking. For many women, this is the toughest part of the process. “Women have a unique sense of pride,” says Leah Kendall, graduate assistant for Leadership Programs and Women Student Services at the University of South Carolina. “Admitting weakness and asking for help can be difficult.”

Deciding that you deserve to have a mentor and to find success is most important, says Ensher. Be calm and explain that you’d like this person to mentor you. Avoid awkwardness by remaining upbeat and expressing your admiration.

Once you both decide to move forward, take charge. Be specific about what you want to gain from this relationship, how much time you’ll need and each of your responsibilities.

Establishing the Relationship

Those who’ve had successful mentoring experiences suggest setting certain parameters, such as agreeing to monthly face-to-face meetings, with telephone calls and emails as supplements. Clearly articulate your goals and their timelines for achievement. Discuss rules, such as when it’s inappropriate to call. This is also a good time to discuss confidentiality of discussions and meetings. You’ll likely be opening up to someone in the same industry, so you’ll both need to be discreet.

Many women like to share, confide and nurture friendships. All of this helps once a person becomes your mentor. Remember to follow through on the suggestions and tasks your mentor assigns, and let him know you have done so. This lets the mentor know you’re serious.

Basic etiquette is a must. Say please and thank you. If your mentor helps you succeed at a particular task, share the glory, Ensher advises. No one wants to be taken for granted, especially when volunteering despite a busy schedule.

Biehl warns not to expect your mentor to do all the work. He should offer suggestions on your resume, not write it for you. He can introduce you to people with whom you can network but should not have to ask them to do things for you. Never take advantage of the mentor’s network.

Be sure to take initiative and reach out to your mentor regularly, even after you’ve met major goals. Aim to eventually transition into a mutual mentorship, where you are able to help one another. Experts say you can rely on each other for things like sharing contacts and providing input on projects.

In fact, being open to learning is the key to a fruitful relationship. “When you have encouragement and see that your mentor accomplished X, Y and Z, it gives you inspiration and hope,” says Jane Dikdan, a senior human resources coordinator in the Los Angeles entertainment industry. “Having someone to look up to is important."

Articles in This Feature:

Latest Jobs

JAS Recruitment
Posted: 10/24/2014
Binghamton, NY
Kauffman Machine Shop LLC
Posted: 10/24/2014
Olathe, KS, 66061
Sears
Posted: 10/24/2014
SANDUSKY, OH, 44870
Sears
Posted: 10/24/2014
Madison, WI, 53719
Sears
Posted: 10/24/2014
SANDUSKY, OH, 44870

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.4.65.72-308
eTrustLogo