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You’ve heard it over and over—networking is key to helping you find a job. You may not know that asking everyone you see to help you land an opportunity could be one of your worst job-hunting mistakes. Why? Most people have no idea how to help you. Of course, they want to assist, but without your specific guidance, they don’t always know how to proceed.

Here are a few ways you should not ask for help, plus some better suggestions of what to do:

1. Via an email blast. Do not send an email to 100 of your closest friends explaining you’ve just been laid off and are open to considering jobs in the following 15 or 20 industries.

Do this instead: Create a short list of places where you’d like to work and the types of organizations that interest you. Send individual emails to people who might be willing to assist. Include a personal note in each one, and gear each email to inspire a reply. For example, “I know you are so well connected at X company, I hope you will be able to suggest a senior-level manager in the Y area who might be willing to meet me to have a casual conversation.”

2. “Hello, nice to meet you, I am looking for a job.” You know people who attend networking events with a metaphorical flashing letter J for “job seeker” on their chests.

Do this instead: When you meet a new contact, tell that person about your expertise and do not ask for help. Treat each new interaction as an opportunity to provide resources to the people you meet without asking for anything in return.

3. “Would you pass my resume along?” How often have job seekers handed a paper resume to a friend or contact?

Do this instead: If possible, find out how the company prefers to handle referrals. Many organizations prioritize applications via their current employees; others even give a “finders fee” or other bonus if they hire someone an employee recommends. Sometimes, you can learn about these incentives via a little sleuthing on the company website.

Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure to follow up to be sure you get the referral you need, and ask for an introduction to the hiring manager, so you can follow up yourself.

Read the whole post at U.S. News & World Report

photo by katypang

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  • Ethan Clarkson

    These are some great tips. I found an interesting correlation to the dating world. When you approach a job search the same way as a date you will seem appealing not desperate. It’s tough sometimes to put on the face of “I’m doing great” even if you’re sifting around the coach cushions to make rent. Times are rough and this is a wonderful piece to keep you motivated.

  • I like your first point. The internet has made everything a little too automatic. There is something still to be said for writing a personalized note or even picking up the phone. That’s the kind of stuff relationships are built on.