Who needs a mentor? You do.

At the beginning of your professional career, everything can seem overwhelming. Perhaps you've started a job in an industry unrelated to your degree. Maybe you've changed career paths. No matter the situation, a mentor can help.

In the middle of your professional career, everything can seem boring or mediocre. The newness has worn off, you are confident in your skills, and the climb up the ladder is often tedious. It's easy to get into a career rut and feel like you're just going through the motions. In the middle of your career, too, a mentor can guide you.

And at the end of your career, when you've accomplished all you set out to, even as things wind down, career coaching can help make that transition smoother.

In short, finding a mentor is a vital part of any thriving career, at al stages. Don't miss out on the guidance a mentor brings and the boost you'll see in your career.

Here are some of the ways career coaching can help you.

1. Acknowledge your shortcomings.

If you're trying to move upward in your career, you need to know exactly what's weighing you down, making that vertical climb more difficult. Chances are, you know many of your shortcomings and are working to eliminate them. But sometimes the biggest flaws are the ones we can't see. A mentor can come in with an outside perspective to point out issues you may not be able to see.

Your relationship with your mentor will allow you to talk about your shortcomings freely to get professional feedback and much more easily than you could with a boss or supervisor. Even if the shortcomings your mentor points out are ones you already know, working with him/her to find ways to make you better without the fear of it impacting your career is invaluable.

2. Develop your strengths.

Just like knowing your shortcomings, knowing your strengths is also a key part of your career. You know best what you're good at and what comes easily to you. And again, a mentor may be able to point out some assets you may not fully realize. But strengths are only strengths as long as they continue to grow and develop. And often developing those strengths isn't something you can do on your own.

The outside perspective career coaching brings can also acknowledge some areas that aren't currently strengths—but could be. Maybe you're mediocre at one thing, but based on other strengths and weaknesses, you could develop that ordinary skill into a strong one. Mentors can help identify areas that you can work on, making you stronger.

3. Learn something new.

No matter how smart you are or how much you know, the more you know the more you realize how much you have to learn. Finding a mentor outside your company or department provides you with access to knowledge you may not have known you were missing. It may be beneficial, also, to specifically look for a mentor with knowledge in an area you need to learn more about. Learning something new won't just make you a better person, but it will also show your employer you are disciplined and take initiative—always good traits.

4. Discuss difficult decisions.

As an outside source, a mentor has a unique outlook, able to give you advice without having a stake in the situation. When difficult work (or even personal) issues arise, often you will be unable to discuss it with others at your company. Career coaching provides the wisdom and knowledge necessary for quality opinions and can help you discuss your options. You're essentially in the presence of a safe zone, able to opine and debate the situation without offending anyone or speaking out of turn.

In addition to giving great advice, finding a mentor can also give you a sounding board. Sometimes you won't necessarily need advice on a situation as much you need to just talk it out. Often you know what the best course of action is, and saying it out loud, again to an impartial party, can be exactly what you need to gain a better perspective on the situation.

5. Connect with new people.

After being in the same industry for several years, you start to find that everyone knows the same people. And they all know the same people in the industry, too. Your mentor, as an outsider, has access to a whole new network of individuals you may not. You can glean from their wisdom as well as your mentor's. Networking with new people boosts your opportunities exponentially. As the saying goes, “It's all about who you know.”

Connecting with a mentor can change your career in ways you may have never seen possible. Whether you're at the beginning, middle, or end of your career path, a mentor can come in and provide guidance and support that will make you a better employee and a better human.

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