Your hiring materials are ready to go—you’ve updated your resume and CV with the latest key words, you’ve sharpened your LinkedIn profiles, and have decided what audience to target in your search. You’re ready to reach out to your network. Or maybe you already have reached out and you didn’t get much of a response.
Emailing your contacts can be awkward. It raises disconcerting questions. Shouldn’t someone at your level be recruited for a job and not have to search for one? Will it make you look bad?
Here’s the thing: Everything you want in life comes to you through other people. The best jobs don’t usually show up on Monster.com or job postings. Word of mouth rules.
So, STOP focusing on your discomfort.
START focusing on this: People are actually always willing to help out!
Research shows people find it more fulfilling to give help than to receive it. We actually like giving a gift more than getting one.
Now, you’re probably thinking that you know all this but, how do you do it without sounding desperate or like a loser?
START by making it easier for people to help you and get far better results by asking the right things in the right way.
You can make it easier for people to help you—and more importantly, get more responses—if you give specifics about what you’re asking for. This is the step that most people miss: asking the right people for the right things, in the right way.
To make sure you get the most bang for your job search buck, here is a five-step plan—with done-for-you emails included—to energize your network as you’re landing your next big thing.
Step 1: Draft Your Talking Points
STOP complaining about your last job, your lousy boss, or your annoying colleagues. Other than your loved ones, no one cares and it makes you unattractive. To attract a new job, just say it’s time for you to move on to… and fill in the blank with what you want to do next. You do not have to explain why.
Don’t assume people who know you understand your career path. People will find it much easier and quicker to look at a short, bullet list of where you’ve worked in the past and where you want to go in the future. This should take no more than 10 minutes to pull together, but it will reap serious rewards.
What to include:
- A list of your last three position titles, companies you’ve worked for, and responsibilities. Think of your resume, but condensed into three bullets.
- Your ideal job title and function, as well as other job titles and functions you’d consider.
- A list of four or five companies you’d love to work for, plus their locations.
- VP of Accounts, Crosby PR Company: Directed 7 Account Executives. Served as main point of contact for global tech clients with ad budgets of $2 MM+ including SAP, GTT and Payolocity
- Account Executive, APCO Worldwide: Served as main contact for high-profile consumer products campaigns including Anti Smoking Campaign, Unilever, Burt’s Bees
- PR Assistant, Columbia University: Drafted press releases that resulted in media coverage in the New York Times and on ABC affiliates
- Associate VP or VP at PR or marketing firm
- Public Relations Manager
- Senior Account Executive
- Edelman, San Francisco or Mountain View
- Ogilvy, San Francisco
- Ketchum, San Francisco or Silicon Valley
- Google, San Francisco or Mountain View
Step 2: Send the Email
The next step is to contact everyone in your network—everyone except your mentors, former bosses or colleagues who you’re close to, and anyone who works for your dream companies.
Draft an email sharing that you’re looking for a new gig, and you’re enlisting their help. Most importantly: Be specific about what you’re asking for—is it job leads or postings? New contacts? Informational interviews? All of the above?
The easiest ask is for information: “Who do you know that I should talk to at Ogilvy?”
The toughest request to make, which also gets the least amount of responses, is for job leads and job postings. The more senior your experience, the less I would encourage you to send this type of request.
You may want to test both types of requests and see what response you get. My clients stick with the relationship-building request to make contacts. Why? Well, the research you do can often propel you to being a top candidate because you have gathered current intel on the marketplace. And you’re building a powerful network for the future.
Also, include all the details about you: your current position and company, the length of time you’ve been there, and what you’re looking for and where. Even if your friends know this information, this email may be passed around to people who don’t know you. Finally, include your bulleted talking points at the end of the email, and attach your resume.
Hi Friends and Colleagues,
I trust all is well with you and yours.
I‘ve been at my current position as VP of Account Executive for Crosby PR for almost three years. I have recently decided to look for a new challenge in the public relations field and am reaching out to you to ask for your help with any leads or contacts.
I’m looking for a senior-level public relations position in San Francisco, ideally in the tech or consumer products field. I am particularly interested in joining an agency, but would also consider interesting in-house work.
Option 1. Who do you know that I should talk to about what’s going on in tech or consumer products at [insert your ideal organization]?
Option 2. If you know of any job opportunities or leads that you might be able to share with me, please send them my way. Below, I have included a short list of my past experience, my target positions, and my list of dream companies. I have also attached my resume for your reference, and feel free to pass it along.
Thanks in advance for your help! I trust you all are doing well and hope to catch up with you individually soon.
Step 3: Send Targeted Emails
The same day, craft targeted, specific emails to your former bosses, your mentors, people who work at your dream company, or anyone who you think might be able to help you out in a specific way. It is important to send this email the same day as your mass email. You don’t want anyone to feel left out.
You’ll want to personalize each message as there is nothing worse than feeling like you’re getting a form letter with your name slapped up top.
And most importantly, you’ll want to make a specific request—more specific than your mass email—about how each person might be able to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific introductions or job leads at a particular company. You can also ask for informational interviews or general advice on companies and positions.
Avoid asking for feedback on your resume. If you ask 10 people about your resume, you’re likely to get 10 conflicting sets of advice. If you’re really uncertain your resume is a match for the position you want, use ATS friendly, online templates or ask a resume writer or a career consultant like me for an opinion.
I trust all is well with you and yours. I saw the photos on Facebook of the conference you held last month—it looked like a well-attended event.
I’m reaching out because I’m currently seeking a new position. As you know, I have been at Crosby Co. for almost three years, but I’m ready for a new challenge in the tech PR world.
I know that you used to do work for Ogilvy, which is on my short list of dream companies. Who do you know there that I should talk with for an informational interview? Any introductions you could make would be greatly appreciated.
[OPTIONAL] In addition, if you know of any job opportunities or leads that you might be able to share with me, please send them my way. I’ve attached my resume for your reference, and feel free to pass it along.
Thanks in advance for your help! And please keep me posted on how things are going for you and if there’s anything I can do to return the favor.
Step 4: Be Patient
In an ideal world, your inbox would be filled with new job leads two hours later—but remember this is a process not an event. And the one thing you do not control in the process is the timing. Activating your network takes persistence. Even if people can’t help out right away, rest assured they’re keeping their eyes open and you’ll be on their radar if any opportunities come their way.
If you haven’t received many responses in three to six weeks, it can be helpful to send a friendly, non-desperate email.
Thanks so much for the leads and feedback many of you sent me so far for my PR job search. I’m still searching for that perfect opportunity, so if you have any leads come your way, please pass them along. Appreciatively, Susan
Step 5: Say Thanks
Last and most importantly, send a personal reply to thank ANYONE who responds to your email or offers to help you out, whether or not the lead is helpful in your job search.
Yes, people are happy to help, but they also like to know their efforts are appreciated and didn’t go into a black hole. If you only contact people when you need something, they probably won’t be there the next time you ask. This isn’t a one-off interaction. After you land this gig, you may find yourself in another job search a few years from now. Relationship development is critical to a long-term, meaningful career.
Not sure you have a compelling job landing strategy? Want help updating your hiring materials with work wins or to sharpen your interview, compensation negotiation, or leadership skills? Book a strategy session here.