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What is mentoring?

What is mentoring? In the context of your career, it’s an important tool that can help guide your job search efforts. In simple terms, it’s a process where someone shares their skills and knowledge to guide others. For newcomers, finding a mentor from your profession or trade can be helpful for many reasons. For example, a mentor can help you, the mentee, to:

  • Learn what’s happening in your industry in Canada
  • Introduce you to others within your profession
  • Understand the Canadian workplace and what’s expected.

While you could complete these activities independently, a mentor can help you get started quickly. And with a quick start, you can:

  • Discuss your job search goals
  • Learn about the hiring process in Canada
  • Build confidence for job interviews
  • Discuss strategies and solve problems together

You may even secure a job more quickly with the help of a mentor.



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Roles and Qualities of a Mentee


To ensure a successful mentoring relationship, a great mentee:

Has a professional goal:

With a clear goal in mind, your mentor will be able to help you reach your career goal.


Is open and honest:

To reach meaningful outcomes, it’s important to be open and honest with your mentor. So it’s helpful to share your professional goals, issues, and concerns. When you can openly discuss issues and obstacles, together you can create options and a solid plan of action.


Is committed to the relationship:

Mentors are usually volunteering for a professional association or community-based group. So it’s important to respect their time and effort. For example, it’s helpful when mentees:

  • prepare for and are punctual for the meeting, and
  • follow through on commitments after the meeting.


Respects boundaries:

A mentor’s role is to provide you with professional guidance. So it’s best to focus on professional and career-related topics. Also, it’s important to respect their time. For example, you may want to set how and when you can contact your mentor to avoid any misunderstandings.

As well, it’s helpful to set the length of your mentoring relationship. Mentoring relationships can be anywhere from 4 – 12 months depending on the organization.


What a Mentor is Not


While a great mentor can provide benefits and guidance it’s also important to understand what a mentor will not do. For example, a mentor will not:

  • Offer you a job
  •  Have all the answers, or
  •  Provide support unrelated to your career goals.

Their primary role is to share their experience and provide career guidance to you.


The Fundamentals of Success


There are key elements that contribute to a successful relationship. Here are some factors to consider to ensure success:

Compatible Match:

A successful partnership is based on a great match between the mentor and the mentee. When you connect easily and have a genuine interest in each other, you’ll work together well. The partnership can be formal or informal.


Clear Expectations:

Realistic expectations and goals will help to guide the partnership in the right direction. A mentor is not there to tell the mentee what to do, but rather to help them along. Mentorship involves more than just devoting a set time period, it requires buy-in and commitment from both sides.


It’s a Two-Way Street:

A strong partnership will flow both ways. Mentees should expect to contribute to the relationship in a meaningful way. In other words, don’t just expect professional advice without giving back. Also, this will help to build a great relationship.


Relationship Goals:

Defining the goals of mentoring is the key to a successful partnership. Each partner should be accountable for success. Setting goals early in the process can help you achieve concrete outcomes together. A goal can be as simple as: “I’d like to become more confident in job interviews.”

Or, a goal can be to seek information, knowledge, and advice related to any aspect of your career goals.


How to Find a Mentor in Canada


In Canada, there are many services such as the Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC) that provide job search help and mentoring programs. For more service providers, check this Government of Canada site.

As well, many professional associations provide mentoring programs specific to your career field.

To learn more about associations related to your profession in Canada, check out our Career Pathways E-books here! These e-books identify associations and immigrant networks for more than 20 professions in Canada.

Mentoring can make a big difference in your career life in Canada. And with a strong commitment, you’ll achieve career success. In time. your success may even encourage you to become a mentor to help future newcomers thrive!

For more information, tools, and free webinars visit our finding a job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!