Find a Stellar HR Mentor with these 3 Easy Steps

Dec 03, 2013

Q. “I’m an HR professional and think it’s time for me to find a mentor. I believe it will help me further my career. The problem is, my company is small and we’re all so busy. I’m not sure who I can ask and if there would even be an interest. Should I try looking outside my company? What should I do?”

Great question!

Yes, a mentor can be a fantastic resource in helping to further your career. Mentors know the industry, the key players, and the path you’ll need to travel to reach your goals. They can connect you with the right people, expand your HR network, and open doors that otherwise, would remain closed. You don’t have to do it alone. Find a mentor. It’s free, extremely helpful, and very rewarding.

First. Do your research.

You’ve heard the saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” In this case, look for those that have the job you want. For example, if you’re currently working as a recruiter but would like to lead the entire recruiting team some day, search your network for recruiting leads or managers. Using your LinkedIn network as a resource is a great place to begin. Also, speak up. The chance is one of your contacts will know someone that is doing the type of job you’d like to have one day. But you won’t know unless you talk about it.

Take a look at your industry thought leaders. Do their backgrounds and current responsibilities interest you? Have they written any material that is beneficial to you? Are they on Twitter, and do they participate in Twitter chats and tweet about industry knowledge? Do you find that this person appears to have similar goals and interests? If so, start interacting with them online and use the hashtag, #HR. Follow them on Twitter. Tweet a hello. Reach out to them via LinkedIn and express a desire to grab coffee. Let them know you have an interest in learning about their background and success.

Second. Consider Multiple Mentors.

As long as they are credible and have a demonstrated success, a mentor can be anyone. You don’t have to search high and low for the “perfect” person. In fact, you can have several mentors. Connecting with multiple HR professionals with varying specialties can be helpful. Focus on the strengths of each mentor and determine how you can harness that knowledge.

There are many amazing people out there with celebrated success stories. They are everyday, normal people who are great at what they do. The point is, a mentor can be anyone, anywhere. On a flight, in row 12A. Seated next to you at the ballpark. Standing next to you in line at Starbucks. Sitting across from you at a rooftop bar. Start talking to people. Maybe someone you wouldn't normally talk to has insight on the latest in WOTC compliance; or maybe they've just implemented an i-9 form software your company is considering. Engage, interact, learn, and get noticed.

Third. Use Professional Associations and Alumni Organizations.

Still looking for a mentor? Have you joined your local Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapter? SHRM membership gives you access to benefits, which typically include invites to speaker sessions, networking dinners, website access, the member directory and so on. You can meet experts in the HR field without making “cold calls” or sending blind emails. You’ll develop an instant network and the ability to “talk shop” with those that live and work in your area.

Alumni organizations are a great resource as well. Remember all the thousands of dollars you spent to get that degree? Well, think of it as an open door to networking. Reach out to your school and find out more about the alumni program, what is offered, and how to get involved. There are often job fairs, special events, and opportunities for networking with other alumni. If you’re alumni, you belong, and a sense of belonging makes it much easier to make connections with the right people.

Finding a mentor can seem like a daunting task. But mentors can be anyone, anywhere—just look around you and start engaging.

Read up on articles about HR now and get even more ideas for ways to engage a potential mentor.

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