June brought at least a small bit of good news for anyone looking for a job: According to a report from staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the number of planned layoffs by U.S. employers fell to its lowest level in more than a year. As a story by Reuters suggests, this shows that employers aren’t ramping up downsizing efforts even though the nation’s economic recovery has slowed. This doesn’t mean, though, that it’s any easier to get a job. And it doesn’t mean that you won’t still have to ask others the big question: “Help me find a job.”
Landing a job today requires networking. That’s a fact. The best way to find employment is to call former bosses, send e-mail messages to past co-workers, and to mingle with community business leaders at chamber of commerce and business-after-hours events.
But there’s a skill to asking someone to help you in your efforts to find a career. If you’re not polite, if you don’t display the proper etiquette, don’t expect anyone to help you find a job.
Don’t Take Advantage
Consider what you’re asking of your friends, business associates, and neighbors when you ask them for help in your job search: You might be asking them to write you letters of recommendation, introduce you to important business executives, or clue you in to hot job openings that haven’t yet made the classified listings or employment websites.
In other words, you’re asking for a lot. You’re also asking for these people to put their own reputations on the line. Many will recommend you to a colleague or write a letter of recommendation for you. Your network contacts may lose some of their hard-earned credibility if you turn out to be less stellar than their recommendations make you seem to be.
So don’t take advantage of the kindness extended by your network of friends, business contacts, and mentors. Act as if you are as impressive as they’ve described you.
Etiquette on the Job Trail
This means that when you do get a job offer, show up to your interview at least 10 minutes early and in appropriate business attire. It means coming to these interviews armed with solid responses to some of the most common interview questions, and it means asking your own intelligent questions at the conclusion of the interview.
It also means researching the company at which you’re interviewing. Your job is to find out as much as possible about the company, its products, and its services. To do anything less will make the contacts who recommended you or wrote a positive letter about your skills seem foolish.
Don’t Forget “Thank You”
You also need to show your appreciation for everyone who has helped you during your job search. Send thank-you letters to people who wrote you letters of recommendation or set up meetings between you and important local business leaders. Pay for any networking lunches or dinners that you schedule. And keep your network contacts informed on your efforts to land new work.
Asking “Help me find a job” is never easy. But if you act responsibly after you ask the question, you’ll find that most people will be genuinely glad to help you in your efforts to conduct the best job search possible.
If you need additional advice on networking and job-search etiquette, consider signing up for our Get Hired Boot Camp.