What Is a Mentor and How To Find the Right One for You

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Investing in a mentor-mentee relationship can be immensely rewarding and beneficial to your career. Mentors can help you gain professional knowledge and develop skills to achieve your personal career goals. They can also provide value by connecting mentees to industry leaders and trends. Mentors can also practise their own leadership and development skills by helping young, less-experienced individuals in their industry. In this article, we discuss what the role of a mentor is, along with what to look for in a mentor.

What Is A Mentor?

A mentor is an individual who acts as an advisor or coach for a less experienced or advanced mentee, providing expertise and professional knowledge from a more experienced perspective. At the core of the relationship, a mentor is available to their mentee to offer advice, provide support and answer questions. Mentors protect the interests of their mentees. Mentees often learn from this relationship and mentors frequently benefit from acting as trusted advisors.

What Does It Mean To Be A Mentor?

To be a mentor, the most important thing is that you establish a valuable and supportive relationship with your mentee. People have different styles of mentorship, so how you mentor is best decided between you and your mentee. However, there are a few things that every mentor can do to make sure they are creating a meaningful mentorship:

Establish expectations

Mentees rely on their mentors to help them grow their careers and give advice that can positively impact them. To create a relationship where a mentor is encouraging their mentee's growth, they can start by explaining how they see their role as a mentor and what they hope to offer their mentee. They can set expectations for how often they would like to meet, what kind of support they can provide, and what is their preferred method of communication. This information can help mentors establish clear boundaries that can guide the relationship in the future.

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Listen to your mentee

The purpose of a mentor-mentee relationship is to focus on the mentee. Mentors can give back to their community and provide the support that they have got from other members of their professional community. This means that a mentor's primary job is to listen to their mentee first, so they can determine the needs and goals of their mentee and provide support. Mentors can ask follow-up questions to build a firm understanding of what your mentee needs from the relationship.

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Provide opportunities

One form of support that is useful to a mentee is the opportunities their mentor can provide as a more established member of the professional community. Mentors can connect their mentees with professionals they know or work with to help their mentees build a professional network. Mentors may hear of an exciting opportunity and can help their mentee's progress along a professional path by helping them come up with a plan to take advantage of it.

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Offer advice

Mentors can provide a unique perspective on how to achieve professional goals. They have experience in the field and can make helpful recommendations about what to do and what to avoid. They can give advice to mentees to help them navigate their own career. Remember that personalised advice can be the most effective kind. Getting to know a mentee can give a mentor a better idea of what opportunities are available to them and how they can help their mentees achieve their goals. They can listen to their mentees' experiences and perspectives to get to know them better.

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What Can You Expect From A Mentor?

While your needs from a mentor may change throughout your career, there are several constant qualities that you can expect in a good mentor-mentee relationship:


Mentees rely on their mentors for meaningful advice and support, so it is important that mentors and mentees be compatible. Compatibility can mean working with someone who has the same outlook that you do or someone who is from the same background as you, but mostly it means someone that you can trust, rely on and respect. Mentees who can form a personal bond with their mentor may be more likely to take their advice and continue to seek them out after changing jobs or career paths.

Diverse perspectives

A mentor can provide insight into a different perspective that can help you look at your career path in a new way. Be open to mentors who have unique experiences, because they may see your skills and experiences differently than you can. For example, if your background has given you a specific set of skills that are atypical of your career path, your mentor can help you identify which of your skills they have found to be relevant and useful in their own career. This can help you re-contextualise your experiences as useful.

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It is important to build a sense of trust between a mentor and a mentee, because mentees may share confidential information about their position or background. Trust can take time to develop in a relationship, but it is necessary for a productive relationship. For example, if a mentee is leaving the company where they work with their mentor, they can trust the mentor will not share that information prematurely with HR. Additionally, a mentee can trust the advice of a good mentor. When the mentor gives advice about how to pursue an opportunity, the mentee can trust that they gave it in good faith.


Look for a mentor with expertise to ensure you are getting valuable advice and access to good opportunities. However, a mentor does not need to be the most senior person in your office. You can look for someone with specific experience and skills that show they have valuable knowledge about how you can advance your own career. People who are in a position you would like to be in, or have had experiences you want to have, can have valuable input about your career. Title or salary is not as important as experience, knowledge and a willingness to share their expertise.

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The Benefits Of Mentoring

Mentees may benefit most obviously from mentorship, but the relationship can also bring personal and professional value to mentors. Serving as a mentor can improve someone's professional networks and reinforce their skills and knowledge. If they are in a senior position, acting as a mentor can connect them with information and trends they may be unaware of in regards to their employees and younger colleagues. Serving in a mentorship role can also offer fulfilment as they help others in the same way they may have received support early in their own career.

What Is An Example Of A Mentor?

The type of mentor you have can affect what type of mentor relationship you have. Here are examples of the three types of mentors:

Peer mentor

A peer mentor is a professional colleague who advises you. They can work at the same company as you and check-in frequently during your time at that company. A peer mentor can inform you about best practices at the company and bring promotional opportunities to your attention. They can set up formal reviews or informal meetings in social settings.

An example of a peer mentor is someone in your department who the company assigns to mentor you when you start a new job. This person has been working there for longer than you have and can help you understand the company culture. They can also help you get settled while you are adjusting to the new company.

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Career mentor

A career mentor is someone who is in the same field as the mentee, though not necessarily in the same company. They are usually someone who is in a higher position than the mentee and has a better understanding of how someone can progress in the field because they have worked with more people and are familiar with the work landscape. They may check in on their mentees infrequently but can give advice about the long-term effects of decisions their mentee makes.

An example of a career mentor is an old professor you are in contact with who has worked in the private sector in your field. They have connections in the industry and can help you prepare for opportunities or advise you about the reputation of different companies or roles.

Life mentor

A life mentor is someone who may not be within your current company or field but has achieved some of your goals and can advise you about difficult career decisions, like leaving a job or changing careers. They can also be a source of unbiased information, as they may not work directly with your industry or position.

An example of a life mentor can be someone you have connected with at a networking event or established a relationship with outside of work. They are successful in their given position and knowledgeable about best business practices.

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