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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Monday, September 19, 2011

Assessing the Influence of Psychosocial and Career Mentoring on Organizational Attractiveness

Summary and Commentary by Ian Mondrow, M.A.

Today, organizations receive hundreds of resumes from both qualified and under-qualified individuals. Although there is an abundance of jobseekers, the war for top talent is still intense. Organizations want the best of the best and therefore they need to be innovative and strategic when sourcing talent. Over the past decade, companies such as Siemens and Daimler-Chrysler have developed mentoring programs to proactively recruit potential talent. However, mentoring is a time consuming process which can also be costly and many organizations attempt to simplify this process by providing all mentoring via internet. Overall, there is limited research on the effectiveness of student-mentoring programs and little knowledge of the impact of providing these programs remotely. Spitzmuller, Neumann, Spitzmuller, Rubino, Keeton, Sutton and Manzey (2008) set out to examine  the differences between virtual and face-to-face mentoring and also how these programs impact organizational attractive, intentions to pursue and the acceptance of employment at the mentoring organization.

In an attempt to do, the researchers established a partnership with a German company that focuses on identifying students for partner organizations and the establishing of mentoring relationships between students and mentors. Students' participation was selected based on their majors, past experience and academic experiences. In addition to the mentorship, the organization provided career-related programs and events among participants.

18 organizations nominated mentors to participate in this program. All mentors created an electronic profile that could be accessed by fellow participants, who would submit applications to mentors of their interest. Mentors would then be provided the profiles of interested applicants and selected the students they wish to mentor. After selecting students, mentors participated in a formal mentoring program that was done via internet and/or in paper form. There was no set guidelines for mentors but the partner organization informed them that average mentoring time involved 2-3 hours a month. Mentors were not assigned more than 5 students.

The researchers worked with the partnering organization to develop a short web-based survey that was emailed to all students. Participants were rewarded by the opportunity to participate in a raffle. Overall, 194 students completed the survey, with a response rate of 32.3%. The survey measured several factors including: psychosocial & career mentoring, realistic job previews, method of mentoring (face-to-face vs. internet), organization attraction, intentions to pursue, and attainment of a job at the mentoring organization.

56.7% of students claimed they spoke with their mentor every 6 weeks and 19.1% reported communicating biweekly or more often. All communication methods involved use of internet, therefore no relationship was primarily based on face-to-face interaction.

Two regressions were conducted. The first regression predicted organizational attractiveness from psychosocial functions and realistic job previews. It was found that perception of psychosocial mentoring  was a significant predictor of organizational attractiveness (β = .27, p < .05) and the intent to pursue employment (β = .29, p < .01).The second regression sought to determine if career functions were a predictor of organizational attractiveness and the intention pursue. However, no significance was found. 

Table 1: Perceptions of Mentors
A logistic regression analysis was conducted to predict whether the hiring of a student was based on the perceived quality of psychosocial and career mentoring function in addition to realistic job previews. No significance was found. Group differences were examined to determine if face-to-face interactions  impact psychosocial functions, career functions, and organizational attractiveness. These results were not statistically significant. However, it was found that individuals who had face-to-face interactions rated their relationships with their mentors higher in career functions (t = -2.73, p <.01) and psychosocial functions (t = -2.43, p < .05). Individuals with face-to-face interactions rated their mentors higher in serving in career functions and psychosocial functions. Please refer to the table on the side for the means and standard deviations. 

Results continued to reveal that psychosocial mentoring functions have he largest impact on organizational attractiveness and the intent to pursue employment.  It is believed that high quality psychosocial mentoring functions establish positive attitudes towards the mentor's organization. However, realistic job previews were found to negatively affect one's intent to pursue employment. In the end, it was found that  only 23 our of 188 students obtained an internship, research position or full time position as a result of the mentorship.

If organizations interested in persuading students to seek employment at their organization may want to focus their efforts on providing high quality psychosocial mentoring functions. Therefore, training should be provided to mentors on how to achieve this. However, organizations need to balance the realistic job previews with psychosocial support, as the job preview may discourage students from pursuing the organization as an employer. 

Several limitations exist in this study. The most prominent is that it only studied interactions within Germany and therefore cannot be applied to the population. Furthermore, the study utilized cross-sectional survey data which resulted in low reliability measures on realistic job previews. 

In the war on talent, this sort of mentoring program may assist organizations in attracting talent before candidates begin their job search. However, this study shows that this sort of mentoring program produces little result in candidate placement, as only 23 students landed an opportunity as a result of the mentoring relationship. Organizations interested in participating in such program should do so due to philanthropy efforts or dedication to help students. They should not utilize such program as a method to actively recruit college talent. However, continuous participation in such programs may have a positive image on the organization as a whole and may bring in talent who commend the organization's actions.

If an organization does indeed decide to implement a student mentoring program, it should require mentors to provide some sort of face-to-face interaction with their students. This is likely to increase the student's perception of a supportive mentor. Mentors should also be trained on how to properly provide both career and psycho-social support as both as vital to a successful mentoring relationship. Organizations can assist mentors with providing career support by providing them training on basic practices within career coaching and a background in counseling practices to assist with providing students with psychosocial support.

The most captivating finding of this study is that realistic job previews discouraged students from pursuing opportunities at a mentors organization. I believe this is because students do not have an understanding of the real world and what it is like to hold a full-time job. This supports the notion that colleges and universities need to start providing students with insight on life after college. Students often struggle upon entering their first full-time job because schools only portray the positives of the corporate world and not the realistic aspects. 

Source: Spitzmueller, C., Neumann, E., Spitzmuller, M., Rubino, C., Keeton, K.E., Sutton, M.T. & Manzey, D. (2008). Assessing the influence of psychosocial and career mentoring on organizational attractiveness. International Jour of Selection & Assessment, 16(4), 403-414.


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