Making It Easier for Others to Help in Your Job Search


Nobody really enjoys job hunting – especially in this economy. It may require some soul searching to figure out what you want to do next and working on your resume can be quite an undertaking. We all know that is just the beginning. The good news is that we’ve all been there, and are generally willing to help others going through the process. But I have realized that people often overlook a crucial part of the process - how to make it easy for those who have graciously agreed to help. I offer my perspective as someone who has helped others with their job search, recruited for large companies, and coached individuals through career transition. I openly admit that these four strategies are simple but they can make a big difference in your level of success. So, here we go.

1. Think through the process from start to finish

The goal is to make the process as positive and efficient as possible for the person helping you. So before you dive in, ask yourself:

  • What information will they need to know in order to help? How will I give it to them?

  • What do I want to talk to them about and ask for help with? Be as specific as possible!

  • How much time am I really asking for, between the initial conversation and the time they’ll spend taking action afterwards? How realistic is that?

  • How can I help them take action quickly after a call/meeting with them, before other priorities take over?

2. Keep your message clear

Clearly and concisely state the type of role you really want. That doesn’t mean you have to pinpoint it down to the exact position, but please be able to describe the elements most important to you. No one wants to spend 20 minutes trying to draw it out of you...really. Make it brief but informative, and practice out loud a few times. This seems so obvious but many people don’t realize how they waste precious time here that could be spent strategizing about potential jobs or contacts.

The other thing I see is people who don’t want to “limit their options” out of fear that they won’t find a job at all. So, they start talking more about the roles they would be willing to accept than the job they really want – especially if they think that ideal job may be hard to find. The end result is a diluted message and the person on the receiving end is wondering if they really do know what they want. So, figuring out how to help them just became harder.

3. Have concise, compelling written materials to support the process

Resumes don’t typically include all the information a person needs to refer you to the right people. So, consider creating a one-page personal marketing summary with your career objectives, a brief description of your qualifications and accomplishments, a description of the organization or culture that would be a good fit and a list of the companies and industries you are interested in. This will set the stage for the conversation.

After the conversation, forward a standard email message that the person can use to refer you to others. It should include the basics - who you are, what you’re looking for, and the appropriate attachments. This will make it easier for you to control the content AND for someone to quickly take action after your conversation with them.

4. Don’t just thank them. Ask them how you can help them.

Never leave a conversation like this without offering to help the other person. Just asking how you can help will leave a positive impression, and convey that you are more than willing to reciprocate.

We all recognize that job hunting can feel harder than having a full-time job, but it can ultimately lead you to a role you really want. So, the easier you can make it for others to help, the greater your likelihood of success.