I took a new job a few months ago in an industry that I am unfamiliar with. I am very eager to learn as much as I possibly can about this new area and want to find a mentor to help guide me through this transition. What should I look for in a mentor and how do I find one that is best suited for me?
Hi, Mentor Wanted:
Mentors are great resources to help build your knowledge in a new industry. I strongly believe that everyone should have a mentor and develop a strong relationship during their career. Good mentors provide a source of inspiration, understanding, motivation, and knowledge. Their guidance and perspective can help shape your decision-making and help you become the best professional you can be.
When looking for a mentor, it is important to understand what you want out of mentor-mentee relationship. Before you begin inquiring about mentee opportunities, be sure you have the answers to the questions:
What are your career goals?
How do you hope to benefit from a mentor?
How do you think you can contribute to the relationship?
How often do you wish to meet or communicate?
What are the expectations for each person involved?
Once you have a clear understanding of what you would like from your mentee experience, it is time to do some digging and find your new mentor. I found a great article called The Wealth of Mentoring from one of my favorite resources, TradePost, that spells out some great tips for finding a mentor that will mesh with you. Coupled with a few of my own, these suggestions are great to keep in mind during your search:
Similar Career Goals: Find a mentor who is not only accomplished in your field but who has career goals that match your own.
Be Selective: Find someone who you think will be the best fit to help you in your career.
Personality Match: Find a mentor whose personality complements your own.
Referrals: Ask your human resources department, colleagues, and friends for good ideas of possible mentors.
Look outside of your office: Finding a mentor that is not directly related to your company can be great. Look to associations, business groups, and even family friends
Your new mentor may be younger: Don’t discriminate because of age. I am a full supporter of teaching old dogs (like me) new tricks!
Don’t limit yourself: Have a variety of mentors to help strike a balance in all areas of your profession.
Keep in mind that finding a great mentor is not a race. Select carefully and spend time developing the relationship. The mentor you decide to work with may become your next business best friend and ally.
Readers: What qualities do you look for when selecting a mentor? What is the most important must-have trait you want in your mentors?
Spring has sprung, and so am I! To celebrate this shift in seasons, this not-so-spring chicken is going to take a little trip of my own. While I won’t be around to respond to all of your lovely comments, I will be hard at work sprouting ideas for new posts!
Until next time, take care and keep the questions coming!
I am just about to hit my second year mark with my employer and I think I deserve a pay raise. I have performed exceptionally well and taken on other roles and responsibilities in my department. How would you suggest that I go about asking for a pay raise at my annual review?
Dear, Ready for a Raise:
Congratulations on your two-year anniversary! From the sound of things, your employer is probably very happy to have brought you on board. Now that you have shined in your current role and offered to assist in different capacities, you most certainly should open the floor up for salary negotiations. As the old sayings go, “it doesn’t hurt to ask” and “you never know you can’t until you try.” Here are some things to keep in mind when asking for a raise.
Make sure your timing is right. It is typically appropriate to ask for a raise after you have been at the company for at least a year. If you ask before this time, it may be premature and come off as pushy.
Show your commitment to your job and the company day in and day out. Your manager will be impressed by your tenacity and loyalty to the team. This means… Show up on time each day. Don’t sneak an extra 15 minutes into your lunch hour. Don’t spend your time on Facebook or texting with your girlfriend during the work day. Don’t make jokes about how much you’d rather be in bed than at work. Even if you only do these things every now and then, your manager will notice and take it as a lack of commitment.
Bring a list of projects or activities in which you had significant involvement to present to your manager. You want to show how valuable you are to your team and why you should be receiving increased compensation for your efforts.
Similarly, bring a list of goals that you have accomplished and a list of those you wish to achieve in the future with the company.
Do your research beforehand by looking at comparable positions in your area on sites like Payscale. You will go in knowing whether or not you are being low-balled or asking for far too much compensation.
Come to your raise discussion with a goal salary in mind. If you have a number in your head, you will be more confident and set on achieving that rate.
Be direct with your raise request. Do not beg for a raise or ask your manager if you deserve one. Be confident and proud of your accomplishments that have spurred you toward having this discussion.
These points will help you get off to a great start during your pay negotiations. With concrete proof of performance and confidence, a raise is more likely to come your way.
Check out this clip for a few tips on getting the raise you want:
Readers, what tactics have you used to ask for a raise? How nervous were you to bring up the subject on a scale from 1-10 (10 being “pulling your hair out” nervous)?
I have been charged with finding a superstar financial analyst to join our growing company. We are a start-up company and my budget for this new employee is rather slim. How can I attract and retain high-quality staff while not breaking the bank?
Dear, Cost Concerned:
All companies, large and small, depend on their employees for future success, and every employer wants to get the best people to join their teams. It can be hard to catch the attention of top talent when you don’t have “top talent” salary to offer. For the most part, the saying rings true that when it comes to employees, you get what you pay for. But surprisingly, according to a 2011 Harvard Business Review survey of Human Resource leaders, only 38 percent said that a high base salary was very important in the decision-making process. Just for you, I have found a variety of other ways to position your job opening so that it will hook the best candidates.
Flexible schedules. As much as some may try to deny it, employees do have lives outside of work. Work hours at many companies are often strict and have their 8-5 schedules set in stone. For employees that have families, school, or other obligations that make a standard work day difficult to abide by, the option to tailor their work hours (in exchange for some more flexible compensation) to fit their needs is a huge draw.
Employee health benefits packages. Health benefits are a hot topic these days and many people are using this as a deciding factor between choosing one employer over another. I think it is one of the number one ways to attract and retain high-quality employees. By providing affordable health insurance to your employees, you are showing that you have a general interest in the well-being of your staff and they are not just a number to the company.
Offer more paid time off than your competitors. It will cost you money in the short run, but people will jump for joy at the chance for more vacation time – and will stay more loyal in the long run (don’t forget the high cost of turnover). Another bonus is the benefit your company will receive in terms of increased productivity and a more pleasant work environment with happy and refreshed employees.
Career coaching and opportunities for advancement. By providing additional on-the-job training and advancement opportunities, you are not only improving the quality of your employees but also investing in their future at little cost to the company. If you show that you are genuinely interested in developing and having this person grow with the company, the salary numbers will become less and less important.
As you begin your search for your next superstar, keep these ideas in mind. Though you may have a tight budget, you don’t have to let salary be the reason you do not find high quality candidates.
Wishing you the best of luck in your search!
Managers and Supervisors, what other incentives do you offer to attract top talent?
Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.