The 5 Most Important Things Mentors Can Provide
When I first moved to the US at age 19, I had no idea what I was in for. I realized I didn’t have the resources I needed to achieve the expected idea of success in America, and that making a place for myself here, making this country a place where I would thrive, would be difficult to do alone.
I was incredibly lucky to meet a woman early on who would go on to become my mentor and close friend. I looked up to her as a role model of professional success, confidence, and personal strength.
Her life experiences were quite different from mine—she was a corporate lawyer from New England, and I was a young immigrant unsure of what the future would hold. But I learned a lot from her over the years, and her mentoring was an important part of my success in the corporate world, as well as my personal development and growth.
At first, she helped me with my resume and oriented me to the professional fields I was interested in, all while giving me advice and encouragement. But the most important thing my mentor helped me develop was my sense of self. I control the way the world sees me, instead of letting the world tell me who I am.
Finding a mentor isn’t necessarily easy—and you need that ‘click’ for it to really work. But in a great mentor relationship, both people get something valuable out of the exchange.
In this post, we’ll go through some of the most valuable things a mentor can offer.
- Craft a Great Resume and CV, and Get Jobs
If you’re lucky like me, your mentor can help you shine on paper. Your resume, CV, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile are all first lines of defense when you’re applying to jobs. Hiring managers will often filter out hundreds of applications based on just a glance at a resume. Sometimes, when applying online, that filtering happens before anyone even sees it.
Your mentor may be able to help you soar to the top of those resume stacks by catching errors, making sure your most relevant and important experiences are clearly shown, and by helping you use the best language you can to make your experiences look impressive. They can also provide a useful outside look and see talents and skills you may not recognize or know how to put into words.
Mentors can also help coach you on how to present yourself well in interviews. Even if your mentor is in a different field, chances are they’ve been through plenty of job interviews and will have some really great tips to share. They may also help you practice for interviews and help you refine your elevator pitch. Experienced mentors can also help you become a master at networking.
- Someone who’s been there before
If you’re overwhelmed like I was when I first immigrated to the US, it can be incredibly helpful just to have another person to talk to who has gone through similar struggles. They don’t have to be the same experiences or problems, or on the same scale, but many mentors will have gone through some kind of parallel struggle to yours and can share their story with you.
Having the opportunity to talk to someone who not only has gone through personal and professional difficulties, but has overcome them, can help you see a way past your current obstacles. A mentor can help you find the strength and hope to push forward and achieve your goals.
Emotional support is an underrated aspect of mentorship, but it’s a very common one, and it helped me immensely when I was young.
- They want to see you succeed
Another advantage of mentorship is the simple fact of having someone in your corner who’s invested in your success. This means they believe in you and encourage you, but it also means that they’re able to hold you accountable to your goals. When you are your only cheerleader, it can be hard to keep up the motivation and confidence you need to pursue your dreams and take chances. But with a mentor, you have a coach of sorts who sees what you’re capable of and wants to help you succeed. Knowing someone else is watching you and believes in you can be hugely helpful during difficult transitions and changes.
Mentors can also see positive qualities in you that you may not always recognize in yourself. That alone can be hugely influential in helping build your professional presence, and in your personal growth.
- Professional Orientation
This one’s a little more subtle but important. Something mentors can do those other professional connections may not be able to is orient you to certain professional worlds.
For example, a mentor can be a great guide for the information you can’t always necessarily find on your own, like etiquette in different professional worlds, or unwritten expectations you may not be aware of—not by your own fault. There are just some things they don’t teach you in school.
And on a more short-term level, mentors in your field can be great for building connections and networking. They can recommend you for certain roles, introduce you to key people, and help you set expectations and goals. They can also help you plan to develop skills you’ll need to succeed in a particular field or role down the line.
- Develop your personal brand
This is perhaps the most important thing I’ve gotten out of my mentorship experience. My mentor helped me with very concrete things like my resume, interviews, and introducing me to some people in her network—but the thing that has had the most lasting effects on both my personal and my professional life has been her ability to help me find a personal brand.
I grew up in a culture where women were expected to stay in the background and blend in quietly. But when I moved to the US and was trying to make professional advancements, I was unprepared for the expectations here: stand out, make an impression, make people remember you.
I needed a mentor to help me figure those things out, and I needed her encouragement that I was someone who really could impress people, that I was someone who people would—and should—remember.
My mentor taught me the importance of having a story to tell about myself. This story involves my motivations, my life experiences, my goals, passions, talents, and the ways I can be of value to others and to the world.
Many of these things are difficult to see in ourselves. How do we fit our messy lives into a story? How do we know what we are good at? What do we truly want?
A mentor often sits at a place between coach and friend, which means they can see the best parts of you, and they can help you leverage those qualities into a strong and effective personal brand. They can be great at helping you “package” yourself, which is one of the more difficult things to do on your own.
An authentic, effective, and powerful personal brand is what I strive to bring to my clients, along with all the other items mentors can help with. I have seen the effects a strong personal brand can have on professional growth, both in my own life and in the lives of many others. Now, I want to help other women achieve all they’re capable of.
If you are interested in coaching that provides the benefits of mentorship with a particular angle toward personal branding, please get in touch! We’re excited to meet you and get started on our journey.