When I was doing public service work, I noticed that the most powerful members of the community were those who helped others get employment. They made friends of the employer and of the job seeker by being receptive and thoughtful about creating a match. They also felt good about helping. In that spirit, several years ago I wrote an article, Networking Quid Pro Quo which details the benefits to the recipient of networking. Please download it, gratis.
It certainly is annoying to be approached by an unfocused job seeker, a contact or stranger with a (not so) hidden agenda, or people who think of you as their new best friend when they don’t know you or, worse, have blown you off in the past. However, if you transcend these awkward advances and try to be of service, you will most likely make an ally for life.
Some tips for building an ally out of a request:
1. Welcome the call by being friendly and interested. You don’t have to know of or have a job to offer to be of service. Engage in a dialogue about the caller’s interests, needs, goals, and background.
2. Manage expectations by shifting the conversation to something you can realistically do for the individual, such as advise on their resume, help them consider alternative career paths, give them information about an industry or companies, serve as a sounding board as they begin to unearth opportunities.
3. Resist the temptation to offer to “pass” the caller’s resume around or keep it in case you “hear of something” because it raises expectations that you will actually become their (unpaid) headhunter and may place you in a position of repeat calls asking you if you have heard of a job. This is irritating for you and hurtful to the job seeker.
4. Help callers to be focused and productive by giving honest feedback on their self-presentation or their marketing plan, and help them to expand their ideas with your perspectives on the market or their field of interest.
5. If asked for additional contacts, be thoughtful and strategic about referrals. Offer names of people who you really think will add to the job seekers’ ability to move their job search along. It is always helpful to provide some background about the referral which helps job seekers to be effective. Personally setting up the connection keeps you in the loop and gives you an opportunity to be in touch with your contacts, as well.
As always, I am interested in your own thoughts and tips,
P.S. As an update on those quoted in the article: