Networking for a job means asking people if they have one for you . . . RIGHT?
Well, yes, but also no.
Of course, the reason you’re reaching out to your network during your job search is in the hopes that they are able to offer you a job or at least pass your resume to the guy in their office who can.
However, I think this is a very limiting approach and one you should avoid from using.
Why is this a bad approach?
If your connection answers “yes” and sets up a time for an interview, then this approach is fine.
But what happens when they say “no”?
The conversation ends and you have gained nothing from the interaction. You’re still stuck at the ground level without a job and bills to pay.
The approach I recommend instead
Instead of asking the person for a job directly, I recommend that you give some details on the type of job you’re interested in landing and then ask them if they have any ADVICE or GUIDANCE towards that goal.
This is preferable for two reasons . . .
First, the natural reaction when people get put on the spot is to avoid the issue. In this case, they can simply say no, and then you are off their back. Therefore, asking in this indirect manner reduces the pressure you are putting on this person and allows them some breathing room.
Second, when it comes down to it, most people are not going to have a job for you. However, they know people in the industry and also know the skills & experience that is looked upon in a favorable manner.
So if they happen to have a job available, great! Chances are they will continue the conversation and see if you may be a good fit for the role.
However, in the more likely case that they have no specific job to offer, they can respond to you with some tips moving forward. This is key, because you want to keep the conversation moving and not hit a road block when they answer “no”.
Two bonus tips to gain more from these interactions . . .
Bonus Tip #1 – In addition to asking about general skills to develop or licenses to achieve, I recommend you ask about some of the smaller or mid-size companies in the industry that may be worth checking out.
For example, everyone in the aerospace engineering world has heard of Boeing, SpaceX, NASA, and Lockheed Martin to name a few. However, there are also many smaller companies that may work on specific components that these companies purchase or that act as sub-contractors for these companies.
These companies may not have the same pizzazz as the “big guys”, but they can provide amazing engineering jobs all the same.
Bonus Tip #2 – Instead of asking the person a broad question such as “what tips do you have for a young engineer like me”, I recommend you ask it in this manner, “What’s one tip you would give to a younger engineer like me trying to break into this field?”
When you ask for just a single tip, the person is much more likely to respond as this is a simple ask. However, when you ask it in a broad manner, people feel like you are asking for a longer response and may simply avoid answering if they are short on time. I know that may not be what you’re asking for, but that can be the perception they read into it.
Remember, this goes with my general networking guidance of making things EASY for the person to help.
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Samar Misra says
Thanks a lot! Though it still deeply hurts with taking it personally and seen as unfair, when doing these and still not getting a job while seeing others get jobs through networking or at speaking events tout networking where it is the main thing or roses
I agree, it can seem unfair at times. However, I’d recommend you keep two things in mind . . . First, it may seem that someone is just getting a job networking, but you have to realize that this is just the connection point. If they are truly unqualified, it is unlikely that they would actually get the role. Second, instead of letting it get you upset, look at it from an angle of curiosity & learning. Try to see what they are doing differently that is working that you may be able to utilize as well. Networking is a long game and not something that happens overnight. So just keep making little steps forward and you are going to be just fine.