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Mentoring and Career Development

Though more common in those in management, professional and executive ranks, in general few Canadians have had a mentor. Among those who have, most value the relationship for career advice and encouragement they have received.


The Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC) has released findings of a survey conducted by Environics Research Group asking Canadians about their job satisfaction, their perceptions about their workplaces and performance management, and the tools and resources they turn to when looking for a job or building a career. This project is a follow-up to a benchmark initiative completed in 2007 that asked similar questions. This article is an excerpt from the 2011 survey report.

Having a mentor who guides an individual through the career development process often has a positive effect on career outcomes. We asked Canadians if they ever had a mentor, someone who acted like a trusted guide or advisor about their careers – and if so, what are the most important aspects of mentorship.

Although mentors are important to some people’s career development, most Canadians go through their working lives without assistance from a mentor. Less than three in ten (27%) have had the benefit of a mentor, and this is consistent across most demographic strata. Those with the highest education, and those who work in management, executive or professional roles are more likely than others to have received some form of mentoring over the course of their careers, suggesting that mentorship is both tied to and influences people who are in the most privileged positions in Canadian society.

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Q.17 Have you ever had a mentor, someone who acts as a trusted guide or advisor about your career and other important matters in your life?

Among those who have received some form of mentoring, the majority value the advice (75%) and encouragement (71%) that they received from their mentors. Smaller proportions cite the feedback (44%), role modeling (43%) and coaching (41%) as the most important aspects of mentoring. Less common, sponsorship – or the mentor’s intervention in order to help their protégée find a career – is mentioned by only one in six (15%), although executives are twice as likely (32%) as others to believe this is an important aspect of mentoring.

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Q.18 When you think about what a mentor does, which three if the following aspects of mentoring are the most important to you…?
Subsample: Those who have had/have a mentor.

There are few other notable demographic differences, but women value encouragement and feedback more than men, while those with an ability limiting disability also appreciate encouragement more than others.
Read the full report, “On-line survey on public perceptions about career development and the workplace”, on the CERIC website.


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