How to Have Productive Career Conversations

January 25, 2018

Almost 90% of professionals say success isn't just about what you accomplish, it's about what you inspire others to do, according to a recent LinkedIn study.  

And if you're looking for an opportunity to help inspire others, look no further than your own backyard. In fact, there are over 100,000 underserved youth in cities like Philadelphia and Atlanta alone -- these are people who want support and guidance when it comes to their careers. Young people who have mentors are 130% more likely to hold leadership positions, according to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.

This week, we teamed up with Starbucks and MENTOR to host Mentor Monday events across the country where professionals from every walk of life met with youth and veterans at their local Starbucks, to share inspiration, coach, and support mentees in their their career path. Here are some of the most common tips we heard for having productive career conversations. Not only are these good reminders for you as professionals, but they are great tips to discuss with your mentees:

Find a mentor: Reach out to people who have jobs you’re interested in or who have taken career paths that inspire you. Be specific about why you’re reaching out and what you’d like to learn from them. You can also try out our Career Advice feature, which can help you find and connect with someone for lightweight mentorship opportunities, like advice on switching to a new industry or guidance on a project. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help!

Establish your career goals: Before you think about how to get there, you need to know where you are going. Ask yourself where you want to be 6 or 12 months from now, or even 3 to 5 years from now. Although this can be a difficult exercise, it will help you align on a goal that will inform the questions you ask and the people you seek advice from going forward.

Identify the skills you have now, and the skills you need to reach your goals: With the shelf life of skills becoming shorter and shorter, many professionals are realizing they need to brush up on their skills or learn new ones in order to stay fresh in their industries. Talk to your mentor about what skills are needed for your specific career path. Think about what skills you bring to the table now and what you may need to learn in order to get to the job or career path you’re envisioning down the line. You can check out the most promising jobs and in-demand skills here to see what skills are qualifications and if you can supplement your current skill set with LinkedIn Learning.

And, of course, update your LinkedIn Profile so that you project a strong professional brand that reflects the experiences and skills you bring to the table, along with where you hope to take your career next.

Mentorship is powerful. In the spirit of National Mentorship Month, find an opportunity that inspires you at