How Much Support Do You Really Need to Get Ahead?
When it comes to career development, what gives you a leg up over your peers? Extra hours in the office? Consistent performance? The sheer luck of being in the “right place at the right time”?
What if getting ahead at work means having the right support around you? Three in four executives responding to a recent survey said having a mentor has been critical to their careers, helping them to grow, learn, and excel at their profession.
Beyond mentoring from a colleague, people looking for developmental opportunities outside their organizations say that career coaching can also be crucial.
For a closer look at the support needed in and outside of work, ZenBusiness surveyed over 1,000 professionals about mentors, sponsors, and career coaches. Here are some of their findings.
While more than two in three professionals believed it’s difficult to get ahead without guidance, only one in three utilized a career coach.
When asked how these advisers helped aid their growth and development, nearly 56% of professionals found career coaches valuable in drafting or updating their resumes, 47% used them to prepare for an interview, and 38% to help define their career path.
Among those who had personal experience with a career coach, more than three in four said the assistance helped advance their careers.
When it comes to finding support or looking for advice, mentors don’t always have a specific title. Nearly 63% of professionals indicated having a mentor of some kind during their professional journey, including bosses, co-workers, and industry vets.
In addition to the more than 60% who said mentors helped them acquire new skills, the pillars of support are also crucial to helping professionals navigate the workplace (51%), develop career plans (34%), and get promotions (almost 33%).
In contrast to career coaches and mentors, sponsors are typically found within an employee’s company and advocate for growth opportunities or projects that can advance their sponsee’s career.
Fewer employees had experience with sponsors (23%) compared to mentors and coaches, but with their help in learning new skills and getting promoted, about 79% of professionals said sponsors helped advance their career.
Your likelihood of having a mentor may not fluctuate much as you advance throughout your career, but professionals surveyed were more likely to have sponsors when they reached middle or senior management positions.
Compared to men, women had more experience with career coaches but were less likely than men to work with a mentor or sponsor.
Impact on salary and promotion
If you think it is enough to have just one kind of support system to guide you through your professional journey, think again.
Professionals polled by ZenBusiness who had both mentors and sponsors had higher salaries ($52,000, on average) compared to those with either one or the other, and significantly higher than professionals with no support at all ($36,000).
How does having a mentor and sponsor help you earn more money? Possibly by helping you get promoted in the first place.
According to the study, professionals with a mentor and sponsor earned twice as many promotions (3.5), on average, compared to professionals with neither (1.7).
It’s clear that professionals are less likely to get ahead when they don’t have anyone to guide them. But that doesn’t mean you should stop with just one kind of resource.
Career coaches, mentors, and sponsors all play different roles over the course of a career.
Professionals who have access to a variety of growth and development networks (including mentors and sponsors) not only have more promotions under their belts at any given stage of their working lives, they also tend to earn more money.