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How Do You Ask Others for Job Search Help

Posted by Rob Riggins

Job Search HelpThe first rule when asking someone for help in your job search is do not ask them for a job.

The odds that the person you’re asking actually has a job opening for a position that’s right for you are pretty slim. You may feel desperate to find a new job, but with this approach you’re most likely setting yourself up for failure and potentially alienating your contact.

However the probability that people you know can assist you in ways that will move your job search forward is quite high. Your odds for success are in your preparation and your approach.

Asking for Help

Most people are open to helping others in a job search, particularly in the cleared community. We’ve all been in a job search at some point, and no doubt will be again. So helping others when we’ve been approached in a professional manner is a payback to the job seeking process. The mistake that many job seekers make is not doing any background work and not being specific when asking others for help or advice.

First, do your homework. Do some research on your own so you can get more in-depth information from your contact as well as demonstrate that you’ve made an effort at preparation.

If you’re talking to a networking contact from Northrop Grumman, do some initial research online about the division or department the individual works in. Review their LinkedIn profile to better understand their background so you can ask more informed questions. Then develop three or four targeted questions for them. That demonstrates you’ve done your homework and will uncover information that you may not be able to find elsewhere.

Preparation takes many forms. Even if you’re simply asking someone to proofread your resume and provide feedback, be sure to run spell check on your resume and review it yourself first. It’s common sense, but it doesn’t always happen.

If you’re at a job fair or other event where you’re meeting other job seekers, you can’t prepare specifically for those individuals. But what you can do is the next step in successfully asking others for assistance.

Second, be specific. When you aren’t specific in your request — for example emailing your resume to someone and asking if the recipient “can help” — you’re rarely going to get a good response. Essentially you’re asking them to read your mind and figure out what you want.

It’s just not realistic and puts the recipient in an uncomfortable position, beyond the fact that your approach shows that you’re not prepared.

A better strategy is to ask targeted  questions such as, “Has PMP certification made a difference in your career and in what ways?” or “What do you like about working at Leidos?” or “I’m interested in the Financial Management position at your company, do you know anyone in that department that I could network with to learn more information?“

Those are all better approaches than “Do you know of any job openings at Lockheed Martin?”  This is why good elevator speeches are so effective – you give the other person something specific to respond to.

Think about the people in your network and what each of them may be good at doing. Then ask them for help in your job search with whatever their expertise may be. If you have a contact who is a natural at networking ask them what their secret sauce is. Another contact may make a good reference. And another may work in a field you’re trying to break into and will be a good source of what day-to-day work life is in that profession.

By developing and asking specific questions of targeted individuals, your approach will be more professional, you’ll be more comfortable in the ask because you have a plan, and your end results will be better information.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 8:30 am

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