It’s hard to ask for help. Especially if you’re reaching out to a social network of people that you barely know. But how many times have you been told that if you’re searching for a new job, the best way to find one is through your network? How in the world should you do that when everyone is so busy, and there’s a global pandemic going on? We have answers, so take a deep breath, be brave, and read on.
How to Reach Out to Your Career Network
Here’s what may surprise you: People want to help you. It’s true. But you have to be brave enough to ask, and you have to know what to ask for. Consider that your network of professional colleagues could lend a hand by simply making a phone call to a hiring manager, or getting on the phone with you to provide some advice, or forwarding your resume to a friend. People can and do all of these things every day on platforms like LinkedIn. But when was the last time you even reached out to your network?
Don’t send any messages yet until you know what it is you want. Being specific about how that person can help you will make them more likely to respond, not less likely. Having the courage to ask for help makes the other person feel useful when they might be feeling uncertain or overwhelmed. If you send out a general email, it just may be too overwhelming. Some gambits you can use could include:
- I saw you worked in X industry. Can you tell me what that’s like?
- I saw you worked at X company. I also saw your colleague X, was on the hiring team for a position I’m interested in. Would you be willing to introduce me?
- I admire your career path, and I’m trying to break into your industry. I wondered if you would be willing to take a quick scan of my resume to see what I’m missing?
The key to this process is being empathetic and genuine in your approach. If you feel like you’re struggling or don’t have your act together, it’s okay. The chances are high that 90% of the people in your network feel the same way at least part of the time. Ask them how they are doing and thank them for any help they can provide you. Be kind, and they will be more likely to respond positively.
It’s also a good idea to put your patience hat on. People are notoriously slow to respond on venues like LinkedIn. It’s okay after a week or two to check back in but don’t bother them more than twice. Don’t take it personally, either; many people don’t even check their LinkedIn or other social feeds regularly. Everyone is probably busy and as stressed out over COVID-19 as you are. If you know the person and haven’t responded, it is okay to check in a third time but this time, do it to check on them as a person and not ask a favor.
IES is a resource for job seekers like you. You can call on us by phone or email. We can help review your resume and connect you with hiring managers looking for talent. Contact our team. We are standing by to help you succeed.