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Shawn Mintz, President, MentorCity, talks about how newcomers can incorporate mentoring in their job search strategy.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a very special relationship that you have with somebody that could share their industry insights, their expertise; share stories about how they got to where they have got in and provide encouragement that you need to be successful in your job search here in Canada.

What are the different types of mentoring?

There are many types of mentoring. There’s traditional mentoring, when a junior person meets with a senior person; there’s peer-to-peer mentoring, say you want to connect with somebody else that’s new to Canada to see what they experienced along their journey here, you could do that; and there’s reverse mentoring and that’s when a senior executive meets with a junior person about something that that junior person is an expert in, which is a great form of reciprocal mentoring, because both will be learning a great deal from each other.

How can newcomers benefit from mentoring?

There are many benefits to having a mentor, especially to newcomers to Canada. One of the biggest benefits to having a mentor is building your network, building your work connections, meeting new people. Mentoring is a great way to do that. The other one is gaining industry insights: to really understand how things work within your industry, what’s the language used in your industry, and then you can incorporate those things in your job search. The other benefits are to do real things with your mentor that you’ll be doing in your workplace, like having a team meeting, and then you can get their feedback on how did you do in that team meeting, and how can you change to do things better. So there are lots of great benefits to having a mentor. If your goal is to find work, then your objective would be to find work within a specific field and then to really break down those goals. In order to do that you need help with your resume, you need help with job search skills, you need help getting connected to other professionals in your industry, so once you have that objective and those goals, you and your mentor can start working towards them.

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What should newcomers expect from mentoring?

You’re going to have somebody that’s supporting you along the way, you’re going to receive advice, encouragement. You will always have somebody that you can reach out to if you have any questions: say you have an interview the next day, you could call your mentor and say “I have this interview and I’m really excited about this interview, do you have any last minute tips for me to get ready for it?” Having a mentor is one of the most powerful things that you could have in Canada, because they’re your guide, they’re your cheerleading squad, they’re going to make sure that you feel great and that you’re ready to succeed here.

How to find mentors?

There are many ways to find a mentor: one of them is MentorCity. It’s the platform that I designed, you could go and search for a mentor. There are also really good mentoring programs for newcomers that you could get connected to a mentor through one of those programs. I really recommend that you are proactive in finding a mentor. What that means is that on your own reach out to people in your own industry and start those conversations, have that initial 15 minute conversations with a mentor and if things go well then you might want to establish a more formal mentoring relationship with them. I feel that you shouldn’t have just one mentor, you might want to have several mentors in your journey in Canada.

What questions should newcomers ask their mentors?

Some of the advice that you should seek from your mentor is just to learn about their experiences. You really want to learn about the workplace culture, so asking questions about the culture, like how are things different here in Canada than back home, you’re going to hear some amazing insights about how it is to deal with your manager, your colleagues. The mentor will be able to give you a lot of those insights, so ask a lot of questions and structure your sessions to really focus on different things at different times. Maybe one session is just about your resume, where you talk about your resume and how you could tweak your resume and then you could move into talking about the workplace.

How should newcomers integrate mentoring in their job search strategy?

It’s really important for newcomers to incorporate mentoring into their job search, because through mentorship you have somebody that you could talk to. But it’s also important that you have somebody that you could share with what’s actually happening on your job search. Say you go to an interview, you could get feedback about that interview, you could learn how to follow up effectively with that employer and then it’s also really important when you’re thinking of your job search with your mentor to think about the advice that they’re giving you during those meetings that you’re having. How are you going to incorporate that advice and then let the mentor know what you’ve done with the advice, because that keeps the mentor really engaged in wanting to help you and support you.