Job Search: Asking for Help
Meeting someone who may be your ticket to a better job can be an exciting situation, but coming on too strong can make the person run faster than Lindsay Lohan dodging paparazzi. So when is the “right” time to ask a connection for help in landing a position?
“There is no easy answer,” says Lavie Margolin, a career coach and author of I Know Someone. What Now? and The Roaring Job Search Anthology. “We might know some people for ten years and not have a strong professional relationship and on the other hand, establish an excellent rapport with others within two months. You have to read people and the situation as best as possible. How often have you exchanged information? How has the communication been? Do they seem receptive to the message? Are they open to sharing?”
Before asking for assistance, take steps to establish a connection. By staying in contact regularly, looking for ways to assist the other person, sharing industry information, and establishing yourself as a responsible professional, it won’t feel so awkward or out-of-the-blue to bring up the subject of new employment.
Another benefit of networking in this manner is that it becomes easier to drop clues – sparing you from having to ask for help directly. Margolin suggests trying statements like the following:
- "Things are going well. I am glad to finally finish my MPA and looking for my first job in non-profit organizational management."
- "Well I've been at the law firm for twelve years now. I am planning to float my résumé out there to see what type of opportunities there may be for me at this point."
- "The wife and kids are doing great. Unfortunately, I lost my job in June as a network administrator, but I am keeping my skills sharp by going to additional certification classes in the evenings."
“If people do not think they can help, they will shy away from communicating with you,” Margolin notes. “Do it in subtle ways and you will be able to maintain the relationship and receive help when you need it.”