Job Seeker, Ask for Help!
By Jason Alba
As a job seeker you know the most common question people who know your situation ask you:
"How's your job search going?"
The most common reply I hear is "fine" or "it's going OK." But what we really mean to say is, "It is not going well at all because I STILL DON'T HAVE A JOB!"
Unfortunately, we miss a great opportunity to ask for help. If someone is asking us how it is going, they are usually someone who could help us, if they only knew how. Let's fix that right now.
Instead of just saying "fine," how about if you give them enough information to put them in a position where they can help you? Consider this response:
"It's going OK; this month I've interviewed at Acme Widgets for the floor supervisor position. I'm still waiting to hear back on that. In the meanwhile I'm looking for introductions to [company name] and [another company name]. Do you know anyone who works at either company?"
Now, instead of ending the conversation with a bleak response you are giving them information to help you:
- The name of a company you have interviewed at. They might not know anyone who works at that company, but mentioning the name might trigger a thought about another company they can introduce you to.
- The title of the job you interviewed for. Reminding people what kind of job you are looking for is critical as they might not remember, or they might have thought you did something different and weren't aware you were interested or qualified for the job you interviewed for... again, triggering more ideas on how to help you.
- The names of companies you want introductions to. You should always be able to state at least two or three companies you are interested in.
- Finally, and most powerful, you ask them a yes or no question -- do you know someone. You aren't asking for an introduction (yet), and you aren't asking a hard question, you are simply asking if they know anyone.
One of the keys behind the success of this response is it shows that you are taking your job search seriously, leading your friend to think, "If I make an introduction for you, I can feel confident that you won't embarrass me. I'm a little reluctant to open my network to anyone -- and if I make an introduction I want to feel confident that my contact will be treated right, which means that you'll follow up appropriately."
Your contacts want to help you; sometimes all you have to do is ask for help.
Jason Alba loves career management, only because when he got canned he had done nothing to prepare for it. Now he runs JibberJobber.com, a website that helps job seekers organize their job search online. He also authored the book I'm on LinkedIn -- Now What???