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The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Career

Mar 27, 2017

The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “Who do you go to when you need career advice?” is written by Kim Castelda, chief people officer for Bullhorn.

I turn to one of my mentors, my boss, when I need career advice.

I’m lucky to work with a founder and CEO who’s incredibly passionate about his people and enhancing their value in our organization. I can have open conversations with him about my career and receive honest feedback about how I can continue to attract, retain, and build our company’s talent.

Mentors are the best thing for your career. They inspire you and push you to help set and then exceed your goals, and they champion you to undertake new opportunities and challenges. They share their experiences so you don’t make the same mistakes they did. Without mentors, you won’t learn, and you won’t grow.

See also: Having the Right Resume Can Only Get You So Far

Whenever young professionals ask me how to select their mentors, I tell them to do the following:

Find people who provide candid feedback
When starting your career, it’s scary to receive negative feedback or quips about your work, but you need to embrace it. Feedback is an essential component in progressing in the workplace and honing your skills. Take feedback as a sign that your mentors invest in you. They’re giving you their thoughts and advice to equip you to succeed on that challenging project or the next steps in advancing your career. Without receiving honest feedback, your career will stagnate.

Choose ones who look to the future
You want to find mentors who support your goals. Maybe you want to take some additional classes to supplement your work or want to try an entirely new career. That’s when you can turn to your mentors and share your ideas about the future. Have the courage to ask them tough questions. If you don’t speak up, you risk losing valuable chances to turn your goals into even stronger ones.

Identify multiple, diverse mentors
We tend to select mentors who are like us—usually in the same profession and in roles a few steps ahead of our own. I realized several years ago that all of my mentors were successful women, and that I shortchanged myself by not having any male mentors. Diversifying your mentors breeds different perspectives and more access to feedback to help you grow. I challenge my colleagues and direct reports to find mentors who aren’t working in a similar role, in the same field, or in the same company. Having a range of male and female and experienced and young mentors spans the spectrum of wisdom. The opportunities are endless when you can learn from people of all gender, race, and age.

Without my mentors, I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career. Mentors create amazing work experiences by helping you reach your professional goals so you can relish your victories.

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