I consider myself fortunate to have had some great bosses over the years. Even when I was 18 or 19 and working for a large telecom company during the summers, I had someone that I felt was looking out for me and would “show me the way”. But good bosses come in and out of your life, as do the not-so-good ones. And we’ve probably all had a few of both. A few years after college, I was considering a career change. But if I was going to jump into a new career, who would I learn from? As the saying goes, you meet someone when you least expect it.
I met my mentor when I got my first recruiting job. He gave me my first shot in the business. He introduced me to recruiting – all it was, what it wasn’t, and most importantly, what it could be. He challenged me, tested me and pushed my limits. I soaked up everything I could from him, and watched him closely when he did his thing in a room full of people. He wasn’t going to be the person to show me all the tactical aspects of my job – there were co-workers for that. But what he did do was really open my eyes to the people side of the business. How to handle yourself with a client; how to look for the candidate who is going to accept a counteroffer; and most importantly how to earn people’s trust in business. He has been my constant throughout my career offering guidance at opportune times – solicited or unsolicited. He took an interest in my growth an introduced me to the right people, which opened countless doors for me. And most importantly, he did it because he wanted to.
I’ve taken as many opportunities as I can, to mentor other recruiters as my career has progressed. It has always been one of the most rewarding parts of each of my career stops. Watching someone transform and grow into a strong employee and co-worker, headed for great things, is a feeling unlike any other. A mentor can be an integral portion of one’s growth and development throughout their career, but exponentially so in the early part of that career. I encourage you to look around your network and think about people who could potentially be helpful to you. But be sure to be reciprocal in your relationship. Always strive to be a voracious learner and student.
A few things about being a part of the mentor/mentee relationship:
- Be humble. Know what you know, and what you don’t know.
- Be flexible. Change has done wonders for many a career.
- Be responsible and accountable.
- Think about the possibilities
Remember that finding and developing a relationship with a mentor is a long-term process that evolves over time. If you are lucky, your experience will allow you to pay it forward and be a mentor for someone else down the road. It’s a great way to continue to foster great teams, and an even better way to thank your mentor for what they did for you.