There are times in life when you might think it’s okay to ask for help. Whether you are moving, clearing out your house, or taking care of a sick child or parent, you may feel asking a friend for a helping hand is both normal and expected. But when it comes to your job search, how often do you ask for help? Some people think asking for help with a job introduction is like asking for a favor. It’s neither polite or in good form. What you don’t realize is that asking for help with your job search is not necessarily a bad thing and should be encouraged no matter where you are in your career.
Asking for help is not like begging. No one is expecting to help someone who cannot help him or herself. If you are starting out in your career but have little connections in an industry you want to break into, then ask those around you for help. Like with everything there is a right way and a wrong way to ask for help before someone starts to think you may be taking advantage of the relationship.
Here are a few ways you can consider asking for help that won’t make you seem like a poor relation or a job intruder!
- I saw you have a connection on LinkedIn …: Doing your research about a job or a contact that you are interested in pursuing shows that you are not leveraging a particular relationship but are canvassing the entire universe of possibilities. If you are looking for an in with a company or an introduction to an individual, asking someone who might know this person is not an intrusion but smart and is a professional way to approach the subject.
- I read about your background … Doing research on the person you are asking help from is a smart way to not “assume” you know anything about that person, but also shows you are interested and grateful for any knowledge, experience or insights they might choose to share with you about the company or the position you are interested in pursuing.
- What do you think are good companies to work for … Asking for help can also mean, asking for someone’s advice and counsel when you are considering your next step or would like another person’s opinion. Assuming you have all the answers and just want someone to pull a favor for you is not going to gain you any extra points if you are trying to ingratiate yourself and need someone to help you make a connection. Showing some interest in that person shows you care and are respecting that person’s time and commitment to helping you with your request.
- I’d like to run something by you…. Asking for help means you are asking for permission on whether this individual is open to assisting you? Don’t assume that just because you’ve known the person for a long time or are a distant relation that they are obliged to assist you. When you ask for assistance you are putting yourself out there and are somewhat vulnerable. You might as well approach the request with a little dignity and respect and learn to be humble about the process in order for someone to feel good about wanting to help you with your job search.
- Not everyone is in a position to offer assistance … When you ask do not expect everyone to jump at the chance to help you. It’s okay if someone can’t help you for whatever reason they have or have not given you. Don’t take it personally, just be gracious and ask them if they can think of anyone else who might be able to assist you? Just because someone says, “No” does not mean they can’t be helpful in referring you to someone else who might be able to help. Don’t hold a grudge or become disenchanted, asking for help is a gift not a right.
When you are most sincere about your intentions and really have a thoughtful and respectful approach to asking for someone’s help, don’t be surprised at the overwhelming response you may receive. Rejection may be part of the process, but if you don’t ask, you may never receive the help you truly need.
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