how to tell your network you’re looking for a job

featured-on-usnIf you’re job searching, you’ve probably heard that one of the most effective things you can do is to use your network of connections to find job leads and make connections with hiring managers. But how do you actually reach out to your network and what do you say? Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about five keys to doing it right — including contacting people individually, not en masse; being clear about how they can help; and more. You can read it here.

{ 13 comments… read them below }

    1. KarenT

      It’s still a better idea to send out personalized emails. I agree fully with Alison that people are more inclined to help you when you reach out directly.

    2. The IT Manager

      How? If I get an email and I am BCCed, I know that its not a peroanlized email. I’d actually be more suspicious of this sort of email.

    3. Anonymous

      If you are going to do a mass email and then later follow up individually with specific requests then yes BCC for the first mass email please. But you won’t get to get specific with your requests, or personalize them, or any of the other bits if you send the same thing to everyone.

    4. Chinook

      BCC doesn’t allow for the personalization aspect. I think that this type of email should be like a cover letter – personalized to reflect who you are contacting and why you are contacting them specifically.

  1. Andie

    I think sending out personalized emails also decreases the chances of your current employer finding out you are looking.

  2. ChristineSW

    #2 has been my biggest problem -.-

    Separate question: What if you’re contacting a network contact through a third party? My dad wants me to send him my resume so that he can pass it along to a fellow professional board member who happens to work at an agency in my field of interest.

    1. Chinook

      Speaking as someone who once got an interview for a job I later got because my mother was talking to a customer who mentioned he was looking for a new employee, I say to give your dad your resume and let him handle the introduction. If both people are professional (and you would know if you dad is or not), then all he is doing is opening a door for you. If his contact wants to talk to you, they will do so.

    2. Jessa

      If you trust your dad’s judgement go for it. It really is that simple. Do you trust the judgement of the intervening party as to who they’d pass it on to and what they’d say about you. If your dad normally says good things about you then go for it, if your dad says crazy stuff then um no.

    3. Evan

      Then, I’d treat it even more like a cover letter: I’d say what sort of job I’m looking for and explain how I’m fit for a job at that agency. At the beginning, though, I’d lead off with explaining why I’m contacting him: “My name is ChristineSW, and I got your name from my father NameSW, who knows you from the Chocolate Teapot Board…”

      I got two of my summer internships during college from that sort of contact, so it does work.

  3. D

    My struggle is my network (besides my mentors and former coworkers) primarily revolves around professional contacts that I also rely on to accomplish the work of my current job. If I don’t find a new job for a while, I don’t want to jeopardize the success of my current work. Am I being overly cautious?

  4. Anonymous

    I got the best networking email ever this morning. He must have read your column! It was brief, but it included reminding me when and how we met, EXACTLY what kind of work he wanted/what his goals were and asked if I would mind reviewing his résumé (which was attached already) and offer feedback if I had time. His professionalism, especially as a fresh college grad, made me eager to help him, and if I could, I’d snap him up!

  5. Greg

    I do view sending a resume unsolicited as a bit presumptuous. One alternative is to include a link to your LinkedIn profile as part of your email sig. Of course, that presupposes that your profile is a good representation of your resume.

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