|  March 8, 2013

Asking for help in your job search

A TED talk I watched earlier this week inspired me to write this post. If you have a few minutes, I think it’s worth watching.¬†Amongst¬†other things, Amanda Palmer talks about relationship with asking people for things (sometimes help, sometimes a couch, and in the most recently example, money through Kickstarter). While this video is not really related to the job search at all, it did get me thinking about pride, ego, and people’s struggle to ask for help. Asking for help in your job search is something people have trouble with too, but it will help you.

I think going through a job search is particularly sensitive for people. For one, it’s somewhat secretive most of the time. You don’t want to tell too many people and risk your current employer finding out. Also, job searches are more often filled with waiting and anxiety versus good news and people generally prefer to share good news (like, “Hey, i got the job!”)

However, the period of time before you have good news is when you could probably use the most help. So tell that ego to quiet down and ask your family/friends/network, for help. Here are a few ways you should ask for help:

ask for help in your job search

Ask for referrals

If this article didn’t convince you, let me confirm that an employee referral really really helps. DO ask your family, friends, and other contacts for a referral for a job or to their company. As always, only do this if you are actually qualified – otherwise you run the risk of wasting everyone’s time.

Even if you don’t know someone very well, you can still ask for a referral in a more passive way and say something along the lines “I’d appreciate anything you can do to get this into the right hands.”

Ask for an intro

Even if someone can’t refer you directly to a job, perhaps they can introduce you to someone else they know who can help you in some way. It’s always a good idea to talk to as many people as possible in your job search, hear different perspectives, and just gain knowledge overall.

If you know a friend of a friend has a super successful career, see if you can get an introduction so you can learn more about them and how they were able to do what they did.

Ask for tips

You never know which of your friends may have really good tips from their own past job searches or just general knowledge of a certain industry. Without sacrificing confidentiality, tell people you know what you’re going through and see if they have any tips or pointers for you. Before I started The Prepary and starting giving job search more broadly, people would ask me questions all the time about their job searches. So much so that it is inspired me to start the site. I definitely think I gave some valuable tips along the way.

Even if you don’t have a friend who has worked in HR or recruiting, your friends and network may still have really helpful information for you. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Learn from their mistakes

As much good advice as people may have, people definitely also have made mistakes in their own job searches at one point or another and can help you avoid similar mistakes. Perhaps they didn’t negotiate their offer, didn’t prepare for critical questions, accidentally sent the wrong version of their resume, wrote a thank you note with typos… the list goes on.

Ask people these questions: “What do you wish you had done differently in your own job search?” or “What’s something you know now that you wish you knew then?”

I guarantee you get some interesting and helpful answers.

Ask them what they think you’d be good at/like doing

When I wrote about asking your family for help in your job search, this is one of the things I suggested doing. Of course you know yourself better than anyone else, but sometimes an outsiders point of view can really help clarify things. If you’re thinking about lots of different types of jobs and companies, run this by your friends and family, and ask for their opinions. Where do they think you’ll be most successful? Where do they think you’ll be the happiest?

When it comes to offer decisions, it can be really hard to think logically because you’re so excited. Asking for a gut check is a really good idea.

The job search can be sensitive, sometimes depressing, and not always the first thing you want to share with those around you. Beyond the things noted in this post, there are so many ways you can ask for help and support. My opinion though is that the more you reach out for help in different ways, and open yourself up to that, the more positive results you will have in your search.

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