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"How to Find the Right Mentor for Your New Job Success"

When you begin in a new job, there are so many things to learn, admin to see to, processes to understand, colleagues to meet, clients to get to know and projects to get up to speed with. I recently coached a client who just moved law firms and is thrilled with her new position in a great team with exciting projects. After a few weeks she has begun to feel somewhat at home, and we discussed what else she could be doing to integrate into the firm and to lay the best foundation for her future..

One way is to start looking out for a mentor. Some companies offer a mentorship programme, pairing a more senior employee with a newbie, so it’s always worth asking if there is such a scheme in your new firm.

If not, then it’s up to you. Over the first few weeks, be on the lookout for someone you feel you can trust, with whom you can be open and honest and that you could learn from. You are looking for someone senior to you who has the relevant experience and is willing to make the time to be available throughout the mentoring relationship. These usually last about a year, which is a good time for you to get the benefit from the experience.

If there is no formal mentoring programme in your firm, then it is helpful if you can get acquainted with the person you want to ask to be your mentor. This can happen through a work project, or because of a meeting, e.g. at an event or a conference. Try to build up at least a basic working relationship with the person before you ask them.

Your line-manager is not usually the best choice for a mentor; it is better to have as your mentor someone with whom you could also potentially discuss the relationship with your manager. Having a mentor in addition to your manager means you are, ideally, getting advice and support from two sources instead of just one, as well as a broader perspective on the firm. Your mentor doesn’t even need to be in the same department as you. I coached a young woman whose consulting company had a formal mentoring programme, and who was mentored by the Head of Public Policy. Your mentor is someone who knows the organisation well, can help you find your feet, and can open doors for you. There are also external mentors you could consider.

A  mentoring relationship needs to be put on a sound foundation: make a clear schedule of  when and how you are going to meet, and what the goals of the mentoring are.

You will find guidelines for a mentoring relationship in the Toolkit of my book, Smart Moves for Smart Women. How to Succeed in Career Transitions. Get in touch if you would like a copy.

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