Updated: Apr 15
You have officially started your job search. You updated your resume, perfected your LinkedIn profile, and honed in on your target companies and dream jobs. What's next? Reach out to your network.
Reaching out to others and asking for help with your job search can be a bit daunting and awkward. But if you're willing to step out of your comfort zone, you'll find people, even acquaintances you've met once or twice, are willing to help. The key is asking the right person for the right request, in the right way. Below is my step-by-step plan, with a link to download sample emails, for enlisting the assistance of your network as you search for your perfect job.
Step 1: Identify Your Targets
Identify individuals in your network who can help you in a specific way; for example:
A well-connected former boss who can get you an informational meeting with a contact in the industry you want to work in or forward your resume to potential employers.
A former colleague who can send an email introduction to someone you would like to connect with.
Request a meeting with an acquaintance or LinkedIn contact who is working at your dream company or industry.
People like to know that you decided to reach out to them because you genuinely believe they can be an asset to your job search. You can avoid a generic-sounding email by adding a personal comment at the beginning:
"I saw the photos you posted of last month's conference - it looks like it was an amazing event!"
"Congrats on your recent promotion! I'm very happy to see that things are going great with your career!"
"I read about you and the recent success of your organization's fundraising initiative in last week's published article in Crain's New York. Congratulations! I know that the XYZ Foundation must feel very lucky to have you heading the organization."
Step 2: Be Specific About What You're Requesting
Make sure you are clear about why you are reaching out and how this person may be of help to you. Your specific request should appear at the beginning of the email, after your personal comment.
"I know that you used to work at ABC Company, which is on my short list of dream companies to work at. I was wondering if you still had any contacts there who would be willing to have a short informational meeting with me."
"I'm reaching out because I'm currently seeking to transfer my expertise and knowledge in experiential marketing within the tech industry. Since you've been in this industry for 20+ years, I thought you would be the best person to reach out to and advise on the best way I can break into this industry. Do you have time to meet this week over coffee or lunch?
"I'm currently seeking a new position as a Construction Analyst with a real estate investment trust firm. Because we worked so closely with each other and you're well-connected in this industry, I would love it if you could let me know of any opportunities or leads you might be able to share with me."
Step 3: Write a Compelling Subject Line
Face it, the people you will be emailing people who are busy individuals and receive hundreds of emails per day. Your email will be judged based on the subject line and will determine if it's read or trashed. This is why it's important to craft a subject line that compels your target audience to open your email, especially if you're emailing an acquaintance or contact you're not close with.
If you share a mutual contact, put the name of that person in the subject line. It will increase the odds of your email being opened and read.
" Introduced by Julie Brower..."
Try to provide as much context without being too wordy.
" Introduced by Julie Brower..., Request to Speak about OLM Company"
"Colleague of Andy Smith, Requesting Informational Meeting"
"Former Employee of Andrew Rodriguez - Recommended to Contact for Sales Position"
If emailing a person you met at an event or, remind them of the place or event you met or know them from:
" Hey There! Pleasure Meeting You at ADE's Conference - Jonathan Dowd"
"Amanda McKinley, Member of Arts4Kids - Hoping to Meet Over Coffee"
Step 4: Updated Your Email Signature
Make it easy for your contacts to share your contact information with their network. Your email signature should include:
Full name (duh),
Email address, and
Personal website or online portfolio (optional)
If you want to create a fancy email signature, there are tons of free online tools to help you create an email signature which can include a professional-looking headshot and social media links:
Step 5: Be Patient
This step is crucial. In a perfect world, your inbox will be full with job leads and scheduled appointments hours after sending your emails. Keep in mind that this entire job search process takes time that includes getting results from you network for job leads and informational meetings. Just because your network can't help you out right away, know that you are on their radar should an opportunity comes up.
Step 6: Give Thanks
Be grateful for every response you receive and say thanks to each person you emails you individually. Being thankful goes a long way in a world where people often neglect to show their appreciation. Say thanks to each person who responds to your email whether or not the job leads or meeting offers is helpful. People are happy to help, but they also like to know that their non-required efforts are appreciated.