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How To Ask Your Friends For Job Search Help

Your friends want to help you find a job, but most don’t know how. They’ll meet you for coffee, give you some encouragement, and maybe even connect you with a company or colleague. Here are three things you can do to explain to your friends how they can help you.

Can you spot what’s wrong with this email?

Hey guys, as you know I recently left my job at MegaCorp this week. I liked the people, but I’m honestly glad for the change. I wasn’t really happy the last year.

Please keep me in your thoughts as I find something to do next. I’m not sure what will come up but hopeful something will be a fit soon to help pay bills.

So, if you hear of anything good, let me know!

–Steve

I get many emails like this from friends entering the job market. Here’s what it tells me:

  • * You left your job.
  • * You were not happy in it anyway.
  • * You are feeling financial stress, which impacts your family.
  • * You seem open to “anything,” which is pretty broad.
  • * You left me unclear about what you’d like me to do as an action step to be a good friend. Should I call you right now? Should we schedule some time to meet? Do you prefer not to be bothered?

In other words, you haven’t given me much to work with, and it will be difficult to help in any practical way. As Jerry Maguire said, “Help me help you!”

When you ask your friends to help you in your job search, be sure to include these three pieces of information.

1. Tell your friends what you’re looking for.

Write a bullet list describing what you’re looking for in your ideal next job. If you don’t know what you are looking, take some time to figure that out before asking for help.

Remind your friends of your career experience. What makes you a viable candidate for the sort of work you want to do? Attach your resume and include a link to your LinkedIn profile.

2) Tell your friends where you’d like to work.

Give practical examples of real companies that would fit your criteria. Not everyone is an expert in your industry, but certain company names can trigger a connection or an idea of someone they may know. Include about ten, which gives plenty of opportunity to make a connection without overwhelming your readers.

Everyone’s network is bigger than you might realize when you begin thinking about friends, neighbors, church, activity clubs, past coworkers, and college alumni buddies. On average, people have about 200 LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends. Send your email to 20 friends, and you could have access to 4,000 people, which greatly increases your odds of finding someone at a target company!

3. Tell your friends specifically what they can do for you.

Of all the ways your friends could help you, what specifically would you like them to do? If you don’t ask, you shall not receive. 

I’m a fan of having a short list of 3 things. Anything more than a small menu and you run the risk of overwhelming people, or coming across as demanding. Make the options simple and practical. For example, offer to buy them coffee, search their LinkedIn network for connections in your field, or ask if you can join them at a networking event.

So let’s take a look at another example, this time of an email that applies the above advice (use bold and other formatting techniques to highlight key statements):   

Hey friends, I wanted to bring you up to speed as I look for that great next job. Quick request: Could you please take 2 minutes to read this email? Your unique insight or ideas could make a big difference. It’s a small world, and I’d be happy to return the favor in the future. 

[Tell them what you’re looking for]

After taking time to reflect on my career, skills, and interests, I’ve decided that my ideal next role would be:

  • Sr. sales/account executive role utilizing my 10+ years of sales experience selling complex enterprise software services.
    • * In the tech industry, as that’s been my focus area and passion, though I would consider a company in the Travel or Wine industries.
    • * Big data/SaaS/analytics area preferred, but I’m open to other products and services.
    • * Regional/NW territory focus to take advantage of my relationships and connections with these companies (and to limit travel and maintain family balance).
    • * A company in the startup/entrepreneurial stage, going through fast growth and likely venture-backed. I would also be interested in a larger company that still has the startup culture and growth potential.
    • * Company HQ in Seattle, as I’d like the opportunity for future promotion (versus a sales field office), and I’d enjoy the energy of working with the full team. I live near downtown, so ideally I’d like to find something downtown or with a short commute.

[Tell them where you’d like to work]

A few companies that I’d like to target include: Tableau, Zillow, Porch, SmartSheet, OfferUp, Avalara, Winebid, Rover, Moz, and Amplero. [Bonus: Create a hyperlink to each company to save the reader time if they’re unfamiliar with any on the list.]

[Tell them how they can help]

If you’re interested, here are a few practical ways you can help:

  1. 1) Meet at your office and let me buy you coffee or lunch. It’s great to get out of the house, and I like to learn about various companies, roles, and the local market. Most importantly, I want to take advantage of my flexible schedule to reconnect as a friend. My goal is to meet 5 people a week, so let’s save your spot on the calendar and email/text me a couple day/time options that could work in next few weeks.

  • 2) Quick LinkedIn/Facebook lookup. The #1 way people get jobs are through internal referrals. Can you do a quick search in your network on the companies listed above to see if you know anyone working there that I could connect with?

  • 3) Let me be your wingman. If you have any upcoming professional breakfasts, lunches, dinners, or speaking events where you can bring a guest (or I can pay for a ticket), please keep me in mind. It’s always more fun to go to these events with a buddy anyway, right?

If you can take me up on any or all of these requests, I’d greatly appreciate it. I’ve attached my updated resume, and my LinkedIn profile is up to date. [add hyperlink] Thank you!

Make your email as brief as possible to ensure people read the whole thing. Make it forwardable—don’t include anything that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to read, and don’t say negative things about past employer or boss! Keep it positive and focused on the future.  

Don’t let pride stand in the way

I think many of us can feel embarrassed or frustrated in a job search because we like to be viewed as self-sufficient. Some feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, and others don’t want to bother busy friends. Don’t believe these lies.

Your true friends would love to help you out and be of value in your time of need.  Relying on others is good for the heart, and a great excuse to reconnect with people. Be authentic, and share the hard stuff of life. You may fear this will push people away, but I expect you’ll find that it actually brings you closer together.

For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips


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