Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Help Me Help You:" Helping Friends With The Job Search

People tend to think of the job search as an individual endeavor. Job seekers understandably focus on their own needs rather than taking too much time helping others. What they may not know, however, is that assisting people is a big part of the job search process.

You should be more than willing to assist a friend if they need help getting a job. You would expect a networking contact to help you if you asked, so why should you turn down a request from a friend? It's true that you need to spend as much time as possible on your own job search, but you should still find time to be of help. Being a willing helper will also make others more eager to assist you.

Like most things, there's a right and a wrong way to help someone look for a job. Follow these four tips should a friend reach out to you:
  • Listen: Does your friend just need to blow off some steam? Instead of trying to convince him that everything will be OK, let him release his frustrations. After he is done, you should express your understanding, and begin to find out what kind of help he needs.
  • Know Your Role: Don't assume that the techniques you use for your job hunt are right for your friend. Ask what kind of job he is looking for and what you can do to help. When it comes time to offer suggestions, make them in a way that is not presumptive. For example, you can ask "would it be helpful if I shared your resumé with my contacts?"
  • Network: Assuming your friend is also looking for a nonprofit job, you can reach out to your networking contacts and see if they can help your friend. Write a short e-mail asking them if they would like to have lunch with him. Remember that your friend is a direct representation on you, so make sure he is properly prepared should your contact say "yes."
  •  Manage Expectations: You should commit to do anything you can to help, but don't make promises you can't keep. For instance, if you don't know anyone in your friend's area of expertise, don't tell him that you will see who you know. Be up-front with him, so that he knows what to expect.

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