The Role of a Mentor in Your Job Search

Mentors and mentorships are becoming increasingly popular - it seems like everyone has or is looking for one. Every day, people on LinkedIn offer to be one or they post they are looking for one so it's not surprising when at some point while working with a candidate we hear:

"I need to discuss this with my mentor."

Absolutely. Most people consult someone part of their inner circle - a spouse, a partner, or a mentor - when making a big life shifting decision. So the real question is, when is the right time to discuss a potential new opportunity with your mentor? 

Everyone's relationship with a mentor is different. Some people meet with a mentor in a formal, professional format and cadence. While others may describe a close relationship as a mentorship where they are more likely to see that person frequently and/or have access to seeing them with very little notice. This type of mentor maybe a friend who they respect professionally and whose opinion they deem highly valuable.

Whatever type of mentor-mentee relationship, here are some tips concerning the role of your mentor in your job search:

Understand how you are going to make your decision and who you will want to involve. 

Depending on how far down an interview process you are, it might not make sense to involve anyone. Again, this would depend on the type of mentor relationship you have.

If it’s a mentor outside of your current company, someone you trust, and who’s well connected then letting them know early on can become a critical factor in your next move’s success. 

Before inviting anyone in, think of whose insights mean the most to you and when along the interview journey makes the most sense to start including them.  

Define what your expectation is of your mentor in your job search - if at all.

Is this mentor going to be a reference? Can they help get you interviews? Or are they just an ear to offer perspective and advice? 

Before starting a new search, you should figure out and articulate to your mentor what your expectations are and if they can provide you with that level of support. 

Document the questions and the inputs you are seeking from your mentor.

As in any other important business meeting, going in unprepared rarely works in your favour. Before broaching the job search subject with your mentor, get clear on what kind of help, questions, and/or support you are looking for from them. This will help to not only set expectations but also maximize your meeting times to gain more valuable insights. 

Establish boundaries to enable you to make your own decision, because the consequences are ones you will need to live (and work with). No one should decide for you and no one is responsible for your career choices except you.

Maintaining a healthy boundary, absorbing information and insights given, analyzing them, and coming to your own conclusions are essential for maintaining confidence in your decisions. At the end of the day, you know yourself the best - you are the captain of your career ship. 

Meet with them early on in your search process and regularly as you shortlist opportunities you want.

If your mentor is going to be actively involved, make sure to include them early on. They can give you perspective on positions and companies that could be a good fit. 

If an organization has gone through all the interview stages and has put in the effort to create an offer for you to sign, they assume it’s because you’re ready and excited to take it. 

Coming back with, “I need to discuss this with my mentor” does little to instill confidence in your decision-making skills or enthusiasm to join. Both of which can leave a negative impression that can be hard to recover from if you do end up signing back the offer.

What to Avoid.

As a technology professional, how you make decisions (in the interview process) communicates to an employer or CEO your level of maturity and professionalism. 

Most markets in Canada, whether it's Toronto, Kitchener, Montreal, or Vancouver, are small markets and many times a candidate is likely to bump into an employer again throughout their career.

The situation that we hope this article helps you to avoid is the following: engaging in an interview cycle, completing all of the interviews, being presented with an offer at which point you invite your mentor to be involved in your decision. 

We have seen this conclude with unfortunate results: 

  • A candidate wanted to work for the company but the mentor suggests they don't 
  • A mentor with no insight on compensation ranges recommends completely unrealistic compensation numbers
  • A candidate holds out for too long trying to get their mentor’s advice and the offer falls through 

So while mentors and mentorships can be very beneficial to both sides of that relationship, we strongly encourage that you get clear on how you expect your mentor to help and involve any key decision-makers early on in your search process. 

Looking for more Career Advice? Check out our candidate-focused blog or currently open roles.