Job seekers: Three reasons why well-intentioned people (like me!) aren’t helping you find work and what you can do about it.

December 15, 2010

by Kathy Bernard

I am helping so many people find work (on a voluntary basis), I created a chart to remember them all. The chart includes their names, locations, job preferences, and email addresses so I can send them relevant job leads. (If you want to be on the list, send me an InMessage or connect with me on LinkedIn.) In the process of creating the chart, I realized why I haven’t been more help. The same roadblocks may be keeping your friends from helping you.

Here’s what I learned:
1) I said I’d remember you, but I don’t
If I met you once at a workshop or networking event and you didn’t keep in touch, you’ve sadly been relegated to that cobwebby place in my head where I supposedly learned why x=12. If you aren’t on LinkedIn, or don’t have your picture on your profile, I still don’t remember you. Remind me!

Lessons to learn:
Build a relationship with people who said they would help you.
• Connect with them on LinkedIn. Include your photo on your profile.
• Send them an email immediately following a networking event reminding them of everything you want them to remember about you.
• Tell them about jobs you applied for and ask them for advice and if they know someone at the company (so they can put in a good word for you).
• Suggest LinkedIn groups or networking events they might enjoy.
• Tell them you liked their blog post or discussion board comment (that never gets old!)
• Introduce them to people who could help them in their career.
• Provide them with business leads. For example, refer a real estate friend to someone selling a home.
• Congratulate them on their business successes.
• Update them if your job status has changed. For example, let them know if you have decided to do freelance while looking for work, or if have taken a temporary job.
• Change your LinkedIn status bar so your status will continually appear in all of your contacts’ LinkedIn Network Updates.

2) I said I’d remember what job you are seeking, but I don’t
I’m a creative type, so fields like information technology or science are a great mystery to me … I know there are all kinds of jobs within these fields, but I don’t know which one is right for you.

Lessons to learn:
• Don’t just tell people what kind of job you want, send them your resume and repeatedly remind them of the job titles you seek.
• Remind them what level of position you are looking for and whether you are willing to consider lower positions.
• Clearly state what type of position(s) you want in your LinkedIn status bar, but avoid stating too many types of positions, lest it sound like you aren’t an expert in any one area.
• Let people know if you are open to temporary or part-time work while you are job seeking. Also let us know if you have reached a desperation state where you will take anything.

3) I can’t recall what you want. Are you looking for work … or starting your own company … or both?
I have quite a few friends who have grown frustrated in their job search and have decided to start a design firm, marketing company, etc. Does that mean they don’t want job leads? I don’t really know. I err on the side of sending them job leads and business leads.

Lessons to learn:
• Whatever you decide to do, remind your well intentioned friends of your plan. And if you change your mind and restart your job search, let us know that, as well.
• Make sure to fully inform friends and former coworkers that you are starting a new company. Provide incentives to encourage their referrals.

The most important thing to remember is that if your friends are working, they are crazy busy, working in under-staffed situations. They want to help, but you’ve got to do the heavy lifting to make sure they know your needs.

Equip your friends to help you in your job search! After all, it can help you … Get a Job!

How do you keep your friends informed of your job search? Share your comments!