If you have decided what kind of programme you want to create and who is eligible to take part, you can start to codify the criteria you will use during the matching process to pair each mentee and mentor. It is important to decide these rules upfront, because:

  1. you will be able to set expectations for participants about what they can expect from the programme
  2. if you intend to use our matching software, you will need to know they work in advance of inputting these rules into the system

You can design your own rules and matching process, or rely on our software. If you rely on our software, the criteria used and how you can change them are explained below.

Matching criteria used by our mentoring software

If you are using our matching software, these are the criteria you can adjust to create your mentoring programme.

Our software was originally designed to match junior mentees with senior mentors. At the moment, the criteria below are required and hard-coded into our matching software. We are working on improvements to the software that will enable you to customise these criteria.

Maximum matches each mentee and mentor receives

By default, our matching software will attempt to match each mentee with up to 3 mentors, and each mentor with up to 3 mentees.

Prioritising how matches are made

By default, the software will prioritise matching mentees with the best possible mentors available. This means some mentees might not receive a match at all. Mentees who do receive a match are likely to get more matches (up to the default maximum of 3 matches), and they will be the highest quality matches available.

You can choose to change the prioritisation so that the software prioritises ensuring the largest possible number of mentees get at least 1 successful match instead. You might choose to optimise for volume of mentees receiving a match if you think:

  • it is better to match every mentee with fewer mentors than to have some mentees with 3 mentors, and others with none
  • it is better to give mentees sub-optimal matches than to give mentees no matches at all

The quality of matches will still be high – but each individual mentee will likely be matched with fewer mentors.

Difference in seniority between mentees and mentors

Seniority in the matching system is currently hard-coded to the Civil Service grade structure, with “AA” being the most junior grade and “SCS4” being the most senior.

By default, a mentor:

  1. should be two grades more senior than their mentee
  2. must be at least one grade more senior than their mentee
  3. must not be matched with a mentee who is 3 or more grades their junior

We designed the software this way as we felt a mentor is most useful to a mentee when they are slightly more senior, but not so senior as for their advice and mentoring to feel disconnected from the mentee’s current career position.

The grade structure used is hard-coded into the system and follows standard Civil Service grade structures.

Profession or specialism matches

A profession or specialism is a list you can define in your registration form, like “policy”, “legal” or “HR”. You could also use generic job roles; for example “developer”, “lawyer”.

By default, each mentee should be matched with at least one mentor who has the same profession or specialism as they do.

If a mentee has two matches with a mentor in the same profession as they are, they should be matched with a third mentee in a different profession.

We designed the software this way because sometimes matching people in different professions is that mentees might benefit from different perspectives and experiences.

Organisational unit matching

An organisational unit could be a team, a directorate, or an entire organisation. You can define the list of organisational units you want to use. For example “Digital team” or “Department of Administrative Affairs”.

By default, a mentee and mentor must not be matched with someone who works in the same organisational unit as they do.

We designed the software this way to avoid matching participants that in close proximity to each other, and it will enable more honest conversations.

Arbitrary characteristic

Our software enables you to match mentees and mentors based on any arbitrary characteristic, in addition to the other information above. Mentees can choose one characteristic to be considered by the system during the matching process.

This option was designed to enable demographic matching, but could be any arbitrary characteristic provided it can be defined in a single list.

By default, given two possible mentors with otherwise identical information, a mentee should be matched with a mentor that matches the mentee’s chosen characteristic. If neither mentor has a characteristic match, or both mentors have a characteristic match, a mentee should be matched with either mentor.

Case study

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme

In the Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme:

  • mentees and mentors were given up to 3 matches each
  • the software prioritised the greatest number of mentees with at least 1 match, rather than fewer mentees with more matches
  • mentors were at least 1, but ideally 2 grades more senior than their mentees
  • mentees were matched first with someone in the same profession as they were (or one they had chosen), and then with mentors from a random profession
  • mentees were never matched with someone in the same department or agency as them, to avoid outing an LGBT+ person to someone they might know in their team
  • mentees were able to specify if they wanted to be matched with someone with the same sexual orientation or gender identity – the characteristic was not revealed to either participant as part of the process

These criteria resulted in every mentee receiving at least 1 match. Only 5 mentors did not receive a match.