And we’ve heard a lot about networking. We have been taught that most jobs are found through networking. While estimates vary from 60% to 80%, it is a compelling data point that has made us think differently about working relationships.
Now there’s a new player everyone is talking about – the sponsor.
If you want to get ahead – and specifically if you want to get the job, your chances are dramatically increased if you have a sponsor.
What is a sponsor? And how is a sponsor different from a mentor?
A mentor is a trusted advisor who can help you work through issues, clarify what you want, act as a sounding board, and give you advice. A sponsor takes it one step further – they are connected within the organization you work (or are seeking work) and actively advocate for you to get the job (or promotion or opportunity). Usually an established leader in a high position, a sponsor throws your name in the hat and lobbies to move your name to the top of the list.
It makes sense. Being qualified for the job isn’t enough – there are lots of qualified candidates. What can distinguish you? Someone on the inside pulling for you.
Pulling strings? Yes. Does it work? Yes, it does.
According to an article titled Friends in High Places in the most recent issue of Working Mother magazine, lack of sponsorship is one of the key reasons why women are not advancing as quickly as their male peers. The article points out that while men embrace the notion of sponsorship, some women shy away from the idea of sponsorship – preferring to rely on mentors alone.
During my corporate career I was at times a sponsor, and at times I was sponsored for key jobs. I also lost out on some key opportunities when I didn’t have a sponsor. I know first-hand that when a senior executive calls asking you to give their candidate a shot at a job, that it is hard not to do so.
Do you have a sponsor? Has a sponsor helped you get a job?