Help them help you

Most people who have been in the job search game for a while have heard the somewhat uneasy-feeling comparison that it’s a whole lot like dating.

Which makes sense.

If you want to start dating and your first instinct is to post an all-caps Facebook status along the lines of…

… well, not only would any potential match be scared off, but you’d probably also attract some creeps in your DMs.

Desperation repels opportunities. At its worst, it invites trouble. (such as abusive employers you said yes to without vetting, because you were so excited to get a paycheck in what seemed like forever.)

Do you message recruiters, hiring managers and the like with things like “I’m looking for a job, can you help me”?

Then don’t be surprised when they don’t respond.

Two reasons there:

1) It makes it look like you’re message-bombing all of LinkedIn in the hopes of landing a job, any job. This first impression will not make them think of you as a desirable candidate (You’re the Santa that needs to get married – doesn’t much matter to whom). Let’s just say they won’t be tempted to reply.

2) While most people want to help, they won’t help you if you make it hard for them. All these people you are messaging, are people just like yourself, living a life with varying competing priorities. This means that you need to compete for their attention. The more you ask of them (especially when you don’t already have a relationship with them), the less likely it is that they’ll help – even if they could help.

You are the one who wants their help. So you are the one who needs to do the legwork.

Not them.

They shouldn’t have to spend time and mental energy going through your LinkedIn profile trying to figure out what you want, what you’re qualified for and how they might be able to help you.

When people feel like you ask them to do this, they won’t just ignore you. They’ll be annoyed.

Don’t burn a bridge before you even start to build it.

When it comes to messaging people about your job search, a good place to start is to give them a clear indication of what roles you’re looking for, why you’re a great fit for these roles and what (good!) reasons you have to reach out to them specifically.

The last one entails doing a bit of research on this person. At the absolute minimum this means attentively reading through their LinkedIn profile. Sometimes, after doing this you will realize that they’re not the right person to reach out to; for example, if it’s a recruiter that specializes in roles different to what you’re looking for. Other times, it will confirm they are the right person to reach out to and potentially even give you an icebreaker (Did you go to the same university? Are from the same hometown? Have the same niche hobby? You get the idea 😉)

Make it as easy as possible for people to help you.

And they will make your life easy in return.

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