What is mentoring? In the context of your career, a mentoring relationship can be an important tool to help you develop new skills, become more confident, and achieve important career goals. In simple terms, it’s a process where someone shares their skills and knowledge (the mentor) to guide another (the “mentee”). For newcomers, finding a mentor from your profession or trade can provide many benefits, for example, a mentor can help you to:
- Learn what’s happening in your industry in Canada so that your on top of recent changes or developments
- Meet others within your profession so you can build your professional network
- Increase your knowledge of the Canadian workplace to help you understand expectations.
With help from a mentor, you’ll become familiar with work-related culture, questions, and issues that may be quite different in your home country. And, while you could likely complete these activities on your own, a mentor can help you to quickly get started. 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 job search strategies and problem-solve together
- Secure a job more quickly with the help of a mentor.
Roles and Qualities of Mentors and Mentees:
Mentoring can be an effective and rewarding relationship when both the mentor and mentee understand their roles. To achieve an effective outcome, here are some of the roles and qualities of mentors and mentees.
What are the Skills & Qualities of a Good Mentor?
A good mentor:
Is positive and enthusiastic:
A good mentor is someone who is excited to help you achieve professional success in Canada. They’ll maintain a positive outlook about your existing skills, knowledge, talent, and experience and appreciate what you have to offer.
Values learning and helping others:
A good mentor is someone who has experience and knowledge that they want to share with you. A mentor doesn’t have to be an expert. Rather they should be able to help you access resources to find the answers to your important questions. In fact, you’ll likely be able to share your knowledge with a mentor as well.
Recognizes your strengths:
You have many strengths, skills, and knowledge that you bring to your profession in Canada. A good mentor will encourage you and believe in your ability to continue and excel in your career in Canada.
Providing feedback is an important skill for a mentor. And, providing feedback in a genuine, empathic, and constructive manner can help you to learn, grow, and develop your skills. A good mentor will provide feedback that is specific, honest, and clear. A good mentor will provide feedback to help you with your job search or provide career guidance if you have already landed a job in Canada.
Often, newcomers are frustrated when it takes longer than expected to find a job in their professional field or trade. If you belong to a regulated profession, it can take time to complete the licensing requirements, and it can also be expensive. A good mentor will understand your frustration while encouraging you to keep moving forward despite the obstacles. A good mentor will recognize your career challenges and empower you to achieve your goals.
Has great listening skills:
A good mentor will listen to you carefully. You may have concerns and issues about your job search and career development in Canada. However, you also have your own ideas about how to overcome obstacles. A good mentor will listen to your concerns so you can jointly create options.
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 guidance.
What are the Qualities of a Good 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 to jump those career hurdles.
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.
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.
Is receptive and open to feedback
While a mentor must be able to skillfully provide feedback. it’s equally important that the mentee is open and receptive to feedback. When delivered in a constructive manner, feedback is a gift that can help you to grow both personally and professionally.
The Fundamentals of Mentoring Success
There are key elements that contribute to a successful relationship. Here are some factors to consider to ensure success:
The Mentor & Mentee Match is Compatible:
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.
There are Clear Expectations:
Realistic expectations and goals will guide the mentoring 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. For example, you can share a book title or article that you think your mentor may be interested in. Sharing and exchanging ideas can show that you appreciate their effort and that you are interested in their growth as well. You’ll also have the added advantage of cultivating a great relationship!
Defining the goals of the mentorship relationship 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 develop a specific skill that would help you to achieve a career goal.
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 articles for more than 20 occupations in Canada. For each occupation, you’ll discover associations and immigrant networks that can help you to find a mentor in Canada.
A successful mentoring relationship can make a big difference in your career life in Canada. And with a strong commitment, you’ll develop and build essential skills, become more confident, and achieve career success. In time. your success may even encourage you to become a mentor to help future newcomers thrive!
Corinna Frattini is the content marketing strategist at Prepare for Canada and contributes articles related to working in Canada. With a background in human resources and leadership development, her articles focus on what Canadian employers seek and how newcomers can continue their careers in Canada.