Yesterday I suggested that we are not prepared to answer the question “how can I help you,” when people ask about our job search.
It’s a question they might not want to ask, and we certainly get tired of hearing how the job search is going (another version of this question is “how’s the job search?”). A lot of times we wonder if they even care, or are just being polite.
I am convinced people really want to help us in a job search, though. Here’s my suggestion, when someone asks this question. Respond with something like this:
“It’s going pretty good – last week I did a lot of networking (or, I had a few interviews). You know, I’m really looking for some introductions to my target companies – do you know anyone who works at Company A, Company B, or Company C?”
A few points:
- You don’t want to start off as a loser, even if you had a tough week. People don’t want to know how bad it is, they want to know you are a winner that is working through the bad.
- Then, you ask them for help… and SPECIFICALLY name three target companies.
People will either (a) know, or (b) NOT know someone at any of those target companies… so now it’s a yes or no question for them.
However, naming three companies gives them something to think about… perhaps they don’t know someone at Company A, but they might know someone at Company D… ! And an introduction to someone at Company D (which might be a competitor to Company A, or a vendor, etc.) could be excellent.
Give them something to help you with… responding “Fine.” isn’t helpful to anyone… but a response like above helps them help you. And they want to help you.