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How to Recruit People for Your Mentoring Program


Mon Dec 22 2014

How to Recruit People for Your Mentoring Program

Congratulations! You've decided to launch a mentoring program. Now what? How are you going to recruit participants? Here are eight strategies for doing just that. 

1. Let people know about the program. The old "if you build it, they will come" philosophy does not apply. You need to tell people (multiple times, until it sinks in) about your new program. Do this through:

  • email—an all-employee email will do the trick

  • posted announcements where people tend to congregate, such as the employee break room or cafeteria

  • meetings—have all managers remind people about the new mentoring program during their meetings with employees

  • intranets/CRMs that include virtual message boards. 

2. In these announcements, address the time commitment issue right away. The idea of a mentoring program might interest people at first blush until they start wondering about how much time they need to invest if they get involved. Set expectations based on the type of program you're implementing. If it's a traditional one-to-one program, let people know they'll likely spend an hour every other week for nine to 12 months. When it's presented like that, people know exactly what to expect, and it sounds a lot less cumbersome. 

3. Share "Top 10" reasons for becoming a mentor or mentee. You'll probably need to create several announcements about your new program in order to get the word out and generate interest. The first announcement will provide the 411 on the program and the time commitment issue. The second can give top 10 reasons for becoming a mentor; the third can give the top 10 reasons for becoming a mentee. Each announcement should come from the mentoring program manager, and it should invite anyone who is interested to contact the manager for further information. 

4. Offer a mentoring "readiness" survey. If people are unsure whether they should get involved, consider offering a brief 5- to 10-minute survey. This can help determine if the person is mentoring "ready" while educating the person on mentoring in the process. 

5. Directly recruit high-potential mentors and mentees. You probably already have people in mind who will make great mentors. Ditto mentees. So, directly ask them to get involved. Let prospective mentors know that you value their insight and wisdom and you'd like them to share this knowledge with a mentee. Let the mentees know that you see great potential in them and that you want to help them advance their careers. Emphasize that it's not a huge time commitment and let them know the many benefits. Usually when directly asked (and once they understand it won't eat up a lot of time), people welcome participating in the program. 

6. Make sure HR talks up the program. Your HR director should make sure to highlight the mentoring program when discussing company benefits with potential employees. New employees are often incredibly eager to get involved in company initiatives in an effort to get to know people, impress superiors, and acclimate to the job. 


7. Once you've gone through your pilot program, ask successful participants to share their stories. Recruitment doesn't end with the pilot program. You'll need to recruit members as long as you have a program. But the more successful your program—and the more people who know about its success—the easier this will be. There are a few ways you could approach this: 

  • write up a case study on your pilot program that highlights the successes

  • conduct video interviews between successful matches and share these videos via email or the company intranet

  • hold an information meeting about the mentoring program and ask your star mentors and mentees to speak. 

8. Encourage former mentees to become mentors. Once you have a few programs under your company's belt, you'll suddenly have a new pool of potential mentors. Former mentees make great mentors. 

Launching a new mentoring program or rebooting an existing one is an exciting endeavor. Don't let the excitement wane simply because you don't have people for your program. Follow some of the ideas outlined above and get ready to watch your program thrive.

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