When I started my job search I thought I should do it almost completely alone. Of course I heard you are supposed to network into a job, but I saw “networking” as a tactic, a way to use people who could be of use to me. I didn’t see networking as a long-term career management strategy.
I did my own resume, I did everything on my own. I reached out to network contacts with a specific, futile agenda (“help me find a job!”). I did it all wrong.
After reading Never Eat Alone, and really beginning to understand what networking and professional relationships was about, I realized I was asking the wrong questions.
Sometimes, instead of asking “how can you help me,” it might be more appropriate to ask “how can I help you?”
Giver’s gain, right?
Okay, now that that’s established, let’s get down to some tactics on how YOU can ask for help in your job search (with the idea that you understand). When you ask for help:
- Be clear. Don’t stumble through your request. Maybe even practice it a number of times before you use it.
- Be concise. Think BRIEF. Not only should you be clear, you should be able to communicate your request for help in just a few words.
- Ask something. Write down what you would say to someone – is there really a question or request there? Is it specific? If you aren’t asking a specific question you aren’t asking anything.
- Be patient. Not everyone will be in a position to help you – it’s okay if people can’t help. Be kind and patient and you might eventually get the help you need (perhaps the issue is that the person doesn’t trust you, yet).
- Be prepared. If they can’t help you, be prepared to say thank you in a genuine, appreciative way. If they can help you, are you ready to take notes, or pass your business card?
I’ve heard job seekers meekly ask for help in a general way… which hardly ever produces results. Ask for help the right way and you get the leads and information that will help you get to the next level in your job search.