New research from global jobs site, Monster.co.uk, shows nearly three quarters of Brits (72%) don’t have a mentor to help guide them through their careers.
While over a quarter (28%) say they want a mentor, nearly a fifth (19%) admit they have no idea how to go about finding one. A further 9% say even though they’re actively looking for a mentor they haven’t been able to find the right person.
Those starting out in their careers were most likely to want a mentor with 41% of 18-35 year olds saying they would like a mentor, compared to 27% of 27-50 year olds and 14% of people aged 50+. The survey also revealed that those working in a smaller company were most likely to have a mentor, or want one.
The research highlights the role mentoring can play in tackling gender representation issues, particularly in fields with less female role models – 15% of those surveyed agreed that business should offer mentorship programmes, in particular aimed at women in business. A fifth of HR professionals polled agreed that introducing a workplace mentoring programme would help towards achieving gender equality in businesses, it’s also widely acknowledged that programmes like this work to improve self-confidence amongst participants.
The research found that the UK is trailing behind its EU counterparts when it comes to supporting mentoring – 63% of French employees, 59% of German employees and 56% in the Netherlands have mentors vs 28% in the UK.
VP of Marketing Europe at Monster.co.uk, Sinead Bunting, says:
“Everyone could benefit from the increased career confidence being mentored offers, and our research shows that young people in particular are crying out for one. Finding a mentor can help you lay out your goals and receive advice from someone who has ‘been there, done it’. However, the main hurdle people face is finding a mentor in the first place and having the tools and confidence to approach them.
“Employees and HR both agree that business need to do more to build mentoring into the fabric of the company. After all studies have shown that this leads to a more confident, empowered and productive workforce and significantly improves retention of employees. It’s a win, win.
“If your company doesn’t currently offer a mentoring programme then be proactive. Whether it’s approaching senior people in your workplace and asking for advice, attending industry events and picking up business cards or messaging people on LinkedIn, just take that first step. People rarely say no to offering advice, in fact it’s quite flattering, and it could be the start of a brilliant mentor, mentee relationship.”
When asked, 18% of Brits would like Barack Obama as their dream career mentor, compared to only 3% who would prefer current President of the United States, Donald Trump. Theresa may came 15th in the list behind Kim Kardashian and Mark Zuckerberg, who despite the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal came 7th.
How to find the right mentor to build your career confidence
Finding someone to help you navigate the twists and turns of your career path is crucial to workplace success. Through sharing their experience and guidance a mentor can be a great asset that also helps you grow as a person by building your self-awareness and career confidence. Whilst we’d all love a mentor to help guide us, it can be quite difficult to find the perfect person for the role, and sometimes quite daunting to ask them.
To help you on this journey I have some tips to help you from finding the right person for your personal and professional development to building up the confidence to ask them.
- Choosing the right person for you
Have a think about what you want a mentor for. Are you looking to get tips at succeeding in your specific field or are you looking for a role model you can gain confidence from by learning how they approached the challenges of their career, even if different from yours? Once decided, do your research. Try and pick someone that you have some common ground with – you’ll be spending a fair amount of time with this person! Most importantly, remember every your mentor doesn’t need to be super senior. Someone who is one or two levels above you could possibly be a better fit as they will have a strong understanding of the challenges you are facing.
- Knowing where to look
There are many different ways to find the perfect candidate. If there is not one you know that jumps out to you immediately try asking friends, work colleagues or people you respect if they can recommend someone. There are also great industry specific events and workshops you should consider attending, some even hold speed dating evenings for mentors and mentees. Ahead of meeting people, bear in mind that a strong social media presence can be helpful as it will give you a platform to reach out to people after you meet, as well as give them a good idea of your work background. So make sure your profile, whether that’s LinkedIn or Twitter, looks good and professional.
- Build the confidence to make the ‘ask’
So you’ve met someone who inspires you, but the thought of asking them upfront “will you be my mentor?” is feeling incredibly daunting. Don’t worry! It’s easier said than done. But don’t be scared, just remember that your potential mentor was probably once in your shoes looking for someone and that people are often flattered when asked for advice. Before you ask, make sure you’re prepared. Think about how they could help you with a current problem or decision you have to make. Do you need advice on negotiating your pay rise or do you want tips on how to move to another role? Identifying what you want to discuss will help you to be more confident when approaching them, whilst demonstrating that you are committing to this, don’t intend to ‘waste’ their time and will value their advice.
- Follow up!
Once you’ve made the ‘ask’ – remember to follow up. Whether on email or social media popping a note over will show you are keen and would really value their guidance. Once you have formed a relationship with them, keep the contact up suggesting regular catch-ups and offering your time in case there is anything they would find useful – mentoring doesn’t have to be one way! If you do this your mentor/mentee relationship will grow organically over time. Like any relationship it’s based on mutual respect and trust so don’t force it, give it time and stay committed to reap the benefits.