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by Glenn Laumeister | July 20, 2015


When we hear the term "mentoring," the first word that may come to mind is "coaching." The fact is that both of these words mean completely different things, especially when it comes to hiring a career coach or a mentor. It is important that you know the difference before you decide to hire a professional for help with your job search.

1. Goal

While both want to provide the client with the tools needed to get to that certain career or place in life that they want to be, coaches and mentors go into two very different directions to accomplish that goal. Coaches look at the task at hand and come up with strategies in order to provide a solution for it. If there is a skill or quality you want to develop, they will help you do just that by teaching you how to become the person you want to be.

Mentors take a more relaxed approach by providing a safe environment for the client to share what their biggest fears or problems are. They take into consideration your personality, weaknesses, strengths, and work-life balance.

2. Relationship

Coaches build short-term relationships, whereas mentors build long-term relationships. When hiring a coach, they will only be involved with the client until their goal has been met or until the client is no longer in need of their services. With a mentor, they will work with the mentee until both parties know each other well enough to put their trust into each other. The mentor wants their client to be able to come to them with any fear or problem they have, which is why they may work with their mentee for up to a year.

3. Driving Factor

The main driving force behind the coaches is enhancing their client's performance through the introduction of new skills or the improvement of current ones. The coach will work with their client until their performance is where the client wants to be. With mentors, they are motivated by developing the personality of the clients in order to mold them into the people they want to be. While this will help with their job performance, it will also help them get what they want out of life.

4. Structure

Coaches have a more formal agenda in place, with a set time frame and process to meet the given deadline. They have specific issues in mind that need to be addressed and plan to do so through a stricter schedule than a mentor. The mentor, on the other hand, more freely incorporates strategies into the client's daily schedule based on how many different tasks are involved in their life or at work at the moment. They give the client more control over the help and length of the process than coaches do.

Both coaching and mentoring can have profound effects on your current or future jobs, as well as your life and reaching for goals you thought were unobtainable. With these differences, you will be able to make an informed decision when determining whether a coach or a mentor can help you get to where you would like to be in your career and in life.