A reader writes:
I recently just got laid off from work and I’m back on the market looking for jobs. I’ve seen other colleagues/friends/peers send out mass emails to notify their network and request assistance in looking for jobs. Is this a good idea or bad idea?
You definitely want to let people know what you’re looking for, and that you’re looking. You never know who in your network might know about an opening that you’d be perfect for, and your chances of being considered increase when you have someone connected to the company or job saying, “Hey, you should really consider Jane, because ___.” So make the most of your existing connections, plus Facebook, MyLife, LinkedIn, Twitter — they all can be useful when you’re looking for a job.
As for the mechanics of how to do this … You could send out a mass email, sure. And realistically, if that’s the only way you’re going to get it done, then do that, because it’s way better than doing nothing at all. But it’s even more effective if you send individual emails to people, as opposed to one group email. This is because people are a lot more inclined to help when they feel like you’re reaching out to them individually. Think about how you feel in similar shoes: If you get a mass email from a friend asking a bunch of people to, say, donate to a charity she’s supporting, you may or may not spend time thinking about it. But if that friend reaches out to you personally, you’re going to feel more responsible for really thinking over the request and maybe acting on it. When people see that they’re one of many people being asked, there’s a diffusion of responsibility, a feeling that others will be taking care of this. The urgency is lowered with mass emails, so if you can, do individual ones.
As for what to say in these emails, make sure that you explain the type of job you’re looking for, and then directly ask for what you’d like them to do. And don’t just say “let me know if you hear of anything” because many people never pay attention to job openings around them. Instead, be more specific and direct: Tell them to let you know if they hear of anything, yes, but also ask them to think about whether they know anyone might be helpful for you to talk with, and be sure to explain that you’d be interested in connecting with people in their networks even if there’s not a suitable opening right this very moment.
Oh, don’t forget to attach your resume to make it easy for them to forward around — people sometimes feel like that’s too forward, but it’s not.
And remember that there’s no shame in doing this; it’s actually very common, and most people are glad to help if they can.
What other advice do people have?