Okay, so there’s no one on our staff named Lucy. But doesn’t it bring back fun childhood memories? But for reals, we’re starting up a formal Q&A. We found ourselves answering so many of the same questions with our clients and candidates on the regular, we decided it might be helpful to provide the answers in a more public format. Don’t worry we won’t publish your name (or where you work, yikes!) but we will provide a thoughtful and specific answer to any question you might have. Chances are, if ye has pondered, someone else has too.
Commitment to transparency. I personally have felt that a sense of mystery around recruitment has developed. As if we have some sort of secretive code by which we operate that no one really understands. In an effort to bring total transparency to our craft, there are no off-limits topics.
And it’s free. Please, no nickels, nickels, nickels.
Got a question? email@example.com
What’s the best way to find a mentor and ask them for help?
Julia from New York writes….
I am just starting out in my career and am looking for a mentor to help me understand and navigate the industry. What’s the best way to find a mentor and ask them for help?
Well, Julia that’s a great question. I’m always impressed when young people acknowledge the need for guidance and mentorship. Frankly, it’s a good idea at any age and stage in one’s career.
Before thinking about who to ask and where to look, let’s talk about what you want to achieve.
Are you looking for someone who can help you determine a career path or achieve your career goals?
Or maybe you’re looking to learn more about a specific subject i.e. merchandising, online retail or management.
Depending on what you hope to achieve could change who you approach.
Next. There are a couple of routes you can take in terms of finding the right mentor.
1. Direct Network
Ask someone in your direct network. You likely wouldn’t be asking this question if you already knew someone so let’s look beyond the obvious. Who do you have in your LinkedIn network? It may not be someone you know personally but perhaps they share a similar career path or is simply someone you respect and feel you could learn from. Spend some time getting familiar with who you’re already connected to and create a list of your top 10 prospects. Keeping in mind the reasons why you’ve chosen them and what you hope to achieve.
Craft the message
Be clear from the jump that you’re seeking a mentor.
Tell them why you are reaching out to them i.e. why you’ve chosen them. Flattery will get you everywhere.
Clearly define what you hope to achieve no matter how simple or specific it may seem.
Outline your expectations and what you are willing to do. For example, coffee, phone conversation, etc. for one hour a month. In return you will be on time, complete any assignments they give and receive constructive criticism. Things like that. This shows your commitment and that you’ve thought it through. This will no doubt be a commitment on both ends.
Thank them. Even if they’re not able to become your mentor, be sure to say thanks for their time. Simple as that.
2. Work with an organization
There are industry specific organizations who already have mentorship programs in place. Two that I can personally recommend are:
Camber Outdoors – Ideal for women in the outdoor industry at all levels.
Two Ten’s Women in the Footwear Industry – also for women but in the footwear industry.
Women in Digital – I’ve recently become acquainted with Women in Digital who to the best of my knowledge doesn’t have a formal “mentoring program” but does offer a similar format but in more of a group setting. I’m guessing you could find someone within this group once you get to know the members.
If this is the route you choose, I’d suggest contacting them directly with a similar message as the direct network approach. Enrollment periods to obtain a mentor may be at certain times of the year or annually. It depends on the organization’s process and timing but in this scenario you’re guaranteed working with someone who has a desire to serve as a mentor and there’s likely some parameters in place.
I hope this helps you along your journey to finding a mentor. Happy Hunting!
Making a decision between two offers.
Annie from Ohio writes….
I received two offers just days apart. Both well-known brands, same title, similar responsibilities. One offer came in 10K lower than the other. I am already facing a pay cut regardless of which company I choose due to the cost of living increase. A 10K difference in base salary intensifies the decision. In case you’re wondering about the cost of living issue, all I can say is that’s what happens when you want to leave Ohio. Both companies are eagerly awaiting and I have a difficult decision to make.
If this decision was purely based on money you would have already accepted the offer and wouldn’t be asking this question, right? Let’s look at all the angles.
Dissecting your interviews to date, paying close attention to the onsite, in person interview. Was the process well organized and the company served as a good host i.e. appropriate water and restroom breaks or did you fly from one person to the next? Was there an enthusiasm for your potential employment or did you feel more like a number of applicants?
Did you have a connection with your potential boss, direct reports, cross functional team members? Did you sense any opposition to your role or to you personally?
Were the current employees genuinely content, glad to be there and all had decent tenure? If so, this company’s doing something right. Do they promote from within? Or will you have to leave again in a few years in order to take the next step in your career?
How’s their reputation in the industry? Speak with a handful of trusted colleagues and friends who have worked for this company or knew someone who has. Ask them to confirm the company culture as described to you. Sometimes we need to hear from a variety of sources to validate our decision-making process.
Money’s not everything. When faced with two or more offers, look at the big picture. In each scenario consider what your life will really be like. Will you be working so many hours that the increased base negates itself anyway? Is there a realistic possibility you will be promoted in the future? The interview process is telling of the company’s overall processes. Finally, people work for people. Who did you have the better connection with?
Are you sick of me asking you all these questions? I invite you to consider a 360 view before making a decision based on compensation alone. Choose the best fit. Chances are you know in your gut what the right decision is.