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Mentors are a great complement to your career. They can help provide clarity, sound advice and inspiration along the way. There is no doubt that they serve an invaluable role in your career. But how do you go about finding one that fits? What are the qualities that you should look for?

Here are 5 strategies to choosing a mentor:

1.    Assess yourself.

Do a critical self- evaluation of what you need in your career. Know your strengths and the areas where you need help. It is important to find mentors that are different from you so they can give alternative perspectives and a well-rounded view of actions to take. You can leverage the areas they are strong in to help you improve on some of your opportunities.

2.    Evaluate where you see yourself years from now.

As you self-evaluate, not only consider your strengths and your present situation today but think about your career goals in the future and select mentors for upcoming seasons in your career. For example, if you know that you want to have children in the future-it may be helpful to have a successful working mother as one of your mentors to help you navigate that season in your career. So be mindful of not only your present career situation, but also consider your future career goals.

3.    Select someone who has achieved the success you’re aiming for.

As you think about the career you want to grow in, think also about the level in your career you are ultimately trying to achieve. Have someone in your mentor circle with similar titles/levels you aspire to. They can provide valuable advice on how to attain the level you want and also give you strategies on obstacles to avoid.

4.    Be proactive with your request

When you have identified someone you would like to be a mentor for you, be proactive and make the request. Be clear on why you selected them and what you feel you can learn from them. If they accept, then ask them about expectations of their availability and communication style or needs. Always take the initiative in the mentor/mentee relationship. Do not wait on them to seek you out but be thoughtful and strategic when and how you communicate with them.

Take the time to genuinely get to know them and do not feel afraid to ask questions in order to build a real and productive connection with your mentor. Instead of feeling intimidated with the years of experience they have on hand, let it be your motivation to discover more about the secret recipe of their success.

5.    Put your learnings into action

It is important to act on what you learn from your mentors. Do not just be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge without putting it into practice. Mentors want to see you actively doing the steps and making progress. Make the most out of your mentee-mentor relationship by proving that their time and effort is not in vain. The greatest gratitude for your mentor is to see you meeting and exceeding your goals.

In summary, there is a strategy to choosing the right mentors in your career. It can be a rewarding relationship to complement your career and also puts you in position to give back to others one day and be a mentor for them.

Barbara Mason is a career consultant that brings over 20 years Human Resources experience and has been in senior level roles for Fortune 500 companies. She is the owner and CEO of Career Pathways Consulting and her passion is helping career professionals stay, flow, or go in their career.

To learn more about working with her, visit www.careerpathwaysconsulting.com.

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