In job search, always be prepared to answer the question “How can I help you?”
When so many parts of your life seemingly falling behind because getting a weekly, stable income tends to take priority, you may feel tongue-tied the first few times you hear this. It took a while for me to accept that most help will be found from people that you do not know well.
Part of the difficulty may be in carving out only one specific request to the offering party. Acknowledging that you would appreciate some help, is not acknowledging that you are helpless, or that no one else is helping you. Knowing how that person could best assist your search, is very handy.
For all of your contacts:
Since no one can help you unless they are aware that you could use it, you need to tell them. The best way to do so is to send an email out to them, letting them know that you are now (or are soon to be) unemployed, and are seeking roles in your industry, within such-and-such a geographic area, and some company names that you are interested in pursuing. List some titles of your desired roles, and say that you’d appreciate being put in contact with anyone who may be looking to fill such a role. Finally, let them know how they can contact you. From my JSWT experience, you get approximately a 10% response rate from doing this.
For folks you don’t know too well (or have just met):
Get to know them better. Ask them about any industry knowledge they may have. (Provide your elevator speech, and then see what they have to share.) Ask for general feedback upon your resume. What jumps out to them? Learn about the industry that they were in, for that knowledge may come in handy later. Always, ask how you can help them.
For folks you have gotten to know:
You can ask for a bit more of their time. Ask for feedback upon your resume, elevator speech, or even to ‘spot interview’ you to see how you answer questions. Practice interviews are great to do with three people, as the third person can observe the interviewer and the interviewee objectively. Always, ask how you can help them.
The most dedicated support will be from...the people in your job search work team.
Upon joining a team, you essentially agree to spend a few hours each week helping other members of the team. Over time, you’ll be surprised at the amount of support (and experiences, and contacts, and feedback) provided within the team.
In my project management experience, I’ve always found that the most organized teams were the best at identifying areas that could be improved with some external help. The question ‘How can I help you?’ is certainly one that you want to be able to answer well.
Were there other ways that you’ve answered this question while in job search? Have folks given you a great response when you’ve asked them this question? I’d love to hear about it.
Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor. He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.
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