Ask more and ask more often

  | James Innes

Many posts nowadays are never advertised but are filled through networking and referrals – the so-called hidden job market. Therefore, when it comes to a job search, at least as much attention should be paid to your own network – friends, family, colleagues and associates – as is devoted to internet research, and posting your CV on job boards.

Yet many people feel shy or reluctant about approaching people in their personal networks to ask for help in finding a new position. Whilst this it may be human nature to feel embarrassed to ask others for help, this is not helping your job search. It also underestimates the willingness of people to reach out and help others where they can. Contrary to what cynics believe, most people are basically decent and ready to assist where they can. So put your reticence to one side and just ask.

Remember you are not asking them directly for a job, just to look out for any opportunities or openings that they may hear of, either formally or through the grapevine. And when you are asking them, go further and ask if they, in turn, can ask their friends, colleagues and associates to keep your situation in mind. This broadens your network, like ripples on a millpond.

However, even if you have approached friends and colleagues once, that is not enough. People lead busy lives and, with the best will in the world, your problems and concerns will not be top of their daily list. Sending them your CV and then just sitting back and waiting for something to happen, is unlikely to be a successful strategy. Much better to follow-up with a regular email or phone call, reminding them of your situation and that you are still looking. That way, if and when they do hear of an opportunity, you will be fresh in their memory and they will reach out to you.

It is important to remember this is still your job search, and not theirs. By all means contact and encourage friends, family and associates, and their networks, in turn, to assist you in your search. But, at the end of the day, it is still down to you to do the heavy lifting. So contact as many people as you can and follow-up with them regularly. Remember to say thank you. And also what goes around comes around. In a few months’ time, the tables could be turned, you could find yourself in a new job, and a friend comes to you for help with their job search.  Remember how they helped you and make sure you do the same for them.

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