Asking for help during a job search is a two-way street. You need to be specific about what you are looking for, and you need to make sure that the person you are requesting assistance from can actually help you. I’ve found that most people will help someone if they are able to and the request is specific.

Unfortunately many people forget the basics in a job search when asking others for help.

I am exposed to hiring managers and job seekers on a daily basis, so I receive frequent requests to help someone -- a former colleague, a current colleague or someone in one of my social networks -- with a job search. However I have yet to receive a request that was truly specific and where the requestor had done some background research on me and my potential ability to assist them. Do some basic research before asking someone for help, such as checking their LinkedIn public profile.

The requests I receive are typically generic:

• “If you know anyone who could use my skills, have them contact me.” No resume attached and the person assumed I would find their profile online.
• “Resume attached. Know anyone who has a job?”
• “A colleague told me you could help me with my job search. Can you?”

Or better yet, just a resume attachment with no comment!

If this is how you prepare and request information from someone you know, how are you going to prepare for an interview?

This also uncovers the deeper issue that the person probably hasn't done the important preparation for their job search to determine their accomplishments, their skills, and more importantly, what kind of position they are seeking.

Job searches are filled with fright and uncertainty -- why would anyone want to go through in-depth soul searching, resume writing, networking and job applications, to discover what you really want to do with your life? And yet it’s only through this kind of in-depth inquiry, plan development, and perseverance, that you get to the position you truly want.

Once you have identified your job search goals and strategies, THEN it's time to ask for help. And remember, be specific.

Do you know someone who is a really good writer? Ask them to proofread your resume, not tell you if it's good or not, but just proofread it.

Do you know someone who is in a similar position to the one you are interested in pursuing? Ask for 15 minutes of their time to ask three key questions about the position.

Does someone in your network work at a company that you are interested in working for? Ask for a few minutes of their time to ask three key questions about the company.

And finally remember to thank them for their time. People want to help but they also want to be appreciated for the help they have provided.

Views: 12

Comment by Pete Radloff on August 23, 2010 at 4:52pm
Couldn't have said this any better myself. This should be part of the Job Seekers Bible.
Comment by Rayanne on August 24, 2010 at 1:19am
Nice post, Kathleen. I will refer many a job seeker to it, especially those that assume I have a job in my pocket for them...
Comment by Kathleen Smith on August 24, 2010 at 9:01am
Thanks guys! Such awesome comments from two of the industry's greatest! I am honored - or as they say in another movie "I am not worthy".

Simple things seems to be the most complicated for many folks - like knowing what to do next or how to ask for help. I am constantly stumped by this simple fact.

I also think I might start Movie Quote Monday, stay tuned.
Comment by Pete Radloff on August 24, 2010 at 9:05am
oooh, now you have me hooked!
Comment by Rayanne on August 24, 2010 at 9:24am
Movie Quote Monday??!!! Inconceivable!
Comment by Kathleen Smith on August 24, 2010 at 9:42am
Boy now it sounds like I have a "posse" this "makes my day" !
Comment by Pete Radloff on August 24, 2010 at 9:49am
Well, I guess I have to ask...."Do you feel lucky, punk?"
Comment by Rayanne on August 24, 2010 at 11:42am
"No need to go heeled to get the bulge on a tub like you...," (Tombstone, in case you were wondering)
Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 24, 2010 at 1:10pm
The mantra of the hiring manager..."I'll think about it tomorrow, but what is there to do, i must do something". Scarlet O'hara and every hiring manager i have ever worked with but two.
Comment by Kathleen Smith on August 24, 2010 at 1:34pm
Keep them coming guys! I think we can "round'em up"

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