Recruiting Strategies for Your Mentoring Program

Laura Francis
Written by
Laura Francis

Getting Mentees and Mentors to Join

Recruiting mentees and mentorsNo matter if your mentoring program is just launching or if you have run a successful program for years, one common concern we hear from program administrators is about recruiting people to join.

For the new program getting ready to launch, administrators can feel anxious about the number of people they think will sign up.

  • Will they have enough mentors?
  • Will they have too many mentees?
  • Or what if they have too many mentors and not everyone gets picked?
  • Will they have high caliber people joining who can be quality members of the program (both mentees and mentors)?

For programs that have been up and running for several years, administrators may feel like their program has fallen into a rut. On the one hand, they know that the people who have joined the mentoring program in the initial years find value in the program and that the overall program is meeting the need that they identified. But on the other hand, they worry about how they can expand the reach of mentoring and bring attention to their program to a wider audience so that more people can take part.

Both scenarios can be addressed with a solid recruiting strategy.

Cascading Recruitment for Mentors

Team dialogue boxesResearch has shown that participation in employee development programs increases significantly when individuals receive personal invitations and/or are nominated to participate. The cascading recruitment model leverages a personal approach whereby mentors are invited into the mentoring program by someone in a senior leadership role that the potential mentor knows and has some level of relationship with.

By having a person in a senior leadership role take an active part in the recruitment strategy, it adds a layer of tacit permission to spend time mentoring, as well as shows that the leadership team at the organization is supportive of the program. In addition, most people feel more favorable about a program or product when someone they know and trust recommends it, so having that personal invitation as part of the recruitment strategy can help increase sign-up numbers.

A cascading recruitment process to sign up mentors could look like this:

  1. Senior leaders sign up to be mentors in the program.
  2. These leaders then identify potential mentors within the one or two job classes immediately below theirs.
  3. The leaders invite the identified mentors to participate in the program.

Engaging in a recruitment strategy like this can help you build a grassroots advocacy effort that organically grows and thrives.

Cascading Recruitment Beyond Senior Leaders

The cascading recruitment process can be repeated at various employee levels in an organization, and it can be adjusted for different audiences as your needs dictate. For example:

  • Middle Managers: Ask middle managers who are mentors in your mentoring program to identify peers who would be good mentors. Then have the active mentors invite their identified peers to join the mentoring program.
  • Emerging Leaders: Ask emerging leaders who are mentors to identify potential mentors who are directly above or below them in your organizational hierarchy. Then ask those active mentors to invite the people they have identified to join the program.

Cascading Recruitment for Mentees

Leading school of fishCascading recruitment strategies can also be used to increase your mentee pool in your mentoring program.

  • Senior Leaders: Have senior leaders invite up and coming employees to be mentees in the program.
  • Peers: Ask individuals at all levels of the organization (who are active members of the mentoring program) to identify and invite peers whom they think would find value in the program.
  • Immediate Supervisors and Managers: Ask supervisors and managers to identify individuals among their direct reports would benefit from mentoring, and then have those leaders invite the employees to take part.

Mentoring is a personal learning and development process, so it should not be a shock that a personal approach to inviting new people to join the program works well. By showing that you have given some thought to them as future mentees and mentors, you can build goodwill with a growing audience who can later become advocates and recruiters for you in years to come.

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