Networking is Great for Your Job Search… Unless You Do This

What NOT to Do in the Job Search
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Oof! You creak off of the couch you’ve been sleeping on for the past three weeks and your back is aching. Stumbling toward the kitchen, you’re in serious need of a cup of coffee. As your feet step onto the cold tile floor, you look up to see your best friend pouring herself a cup.

“Oh, perfect,” you mumble, “there’s already a pot made.”

Your best friend looks at you with a raised brow and nods. Yikes. Soon to be EX-best friend. You can tell that your welcome has come and gone and you are officially over-staying. YOU. NEED. A. JOB. And a place of your own.

Luckily you’ve been reading the AfterCollege Blog and have just finished our post about how asking for help in your job search can be a good thing. Now that you have the go-ahead, you’ve really started tapping into your network—calling and emailing friends and family and letting them know you’re in need of work.

And you know what? It’s working.

Friends are emailing you with leads, asking you if you’d like to do some informational interviews, and are willing to pass along your résumé to their hiring managers. Not only that, but you’re getting emailed with job listings from all the job sites you’ve subscribed to.

Great! Now you start to notice that there are certain jobs that seem a little bit more “your style” than others. So, you start responding to those emails. But you’re starting to skim over the ones that don’t immediately catch your eye. A few emails start to fall through the cracks, you miss a couple calls from a friend living outside the city (you didn’t really want to do that commute anyway), and you’re allowing a couple of days to pass before responding to certain texts.

It’s no big deal, though. It’s not like you’re missing any really important information, just a few lukewarm leads or the messages from your dad asking how your informational interview went with his coworker’s cousin’s friend. No harm, no foul.

Wrong!

While job searching, you totally should ask for help from friends and family. It’s a useful way to expand your network, learn about job openings that might not be listed, or to get your résumé in front of someone who actually works at the company.

But, if you’re going to ask for help, there are some steps you have to follow to make sure you keep your network happy. Taking a couple days to respond to an email may not seem like a big deal, but it can be to whoever sent it. Remember, these people are taking time out of their schedule to help you find a job. Because of that, you need to make sure they know you appreciate them and you’re not wasting their time.

That’s why I came up with a list of four things you must do after asking for help in the job search.

  • ALWAYS respond

I know that email and texts and calls can get overwhelming, especially when job searching. You’re probably subscribed to a million different job search sites (AfterCollege, of course, being your favorite ;p). Still, you have to figure out a system that allows you to keep track of everything. Try something like Unrollme.com to keep all your email subscriptions in one place. That way, you can keep your subscriptions bundled together and make it easier on yourself to see and respond to every email sent to you from your network.

You have to be sure to respond to everything. Even if an email seems like it doesn’t need a response, send one anyway. A quick “thank you again for helping me with this” or “I’ll let you know how everything goes” can make all the difference. When you acknowledge people who offer to help you, you confirm that you’re dedicated to the job search and that the time they spent helping you was worthwhile.

If there is a call to action in their message, make sure that you do it and update the person on your progress. Have you agreed to do an informational interview with one of their acquaintances? Let them know with a quick message thanking them for putting you two in touch and with a promise to let them know how it goes.

  • Respond quickly

Respond as quickly as possible. You don’t want to come across as uninterested or not serious about finding a job. Remember that these people are taking time out of their already busy schedules to help you. That means if they send you a lead, they want to make sure that you got it. By not responding, you’re making them do more work by having to reach out to you again.

You’re also probably going to be working with more than just one schedule. A lot of the time, a friend or family member will know someone in the industry that you want to break into. They’ll want to set you up with a meeting or a time to talk on the phone. That means you’re adding another person’s schedule into the mix. You want to make it as easy as possible for everyone by responding early and scheduling everything with plenty of time to rearrange things if something comes up.

  • Say “Yes”

A lot of the time your friends and family will offer to introduce you to someone within the industry, look over your résumé, or pass along your information.

Always say “yes.” Meeting new people can be really scary and you may feel intimidated, but you need to get past that. Informational interviews are some of the best ways to learn about your industry and also expand your network. If you’re really nervous about conducting your first informational interview, never fear! We have an entire section of our blog dedicated to everything you need to know on the subject.

When one of my friends moved to the city, she was desperate for a job. I knew we were hiring in our sales department so I invited her to watch the Giants game with a few of my coworkers. I thought it would be a great way for her to meet the team she’d be working with if she decided to apply for the job here. She was pretty wishy-washy about the invitation and it really discouraged me from trying to set her up with any other meetings.

Even if the job listing or person you’re being connected with isn’t exactly who or what you want, you should still agree to it. First of all, you never know what will come of it. Second of all, a positive attitude looks better on you than a negative one and more people will want to help you if they think of you positively.

  • Say “Thank you”

This is probably the most important step. No matter what, you need to say “thank you.” Even if you end up going in a different direction, you want everyone to know how much you appreciate their time and effort. As Carrie McCullagh learned early in her career, it’s so important NOT to burn bridges. You do not want to come across as ungrateful.

Sending a quick “thank you” note or email is a simple act but it’s such an effective way of letting people know you appreciate them. If the people in your network feel that their time was well spent helping you, they’ll be more likely to want to do it again.

Homework time! Have you reached out to your network in your job search? Remember that contacting them is just the first step. Follow these four tips to make sure that you’re letting your network know that you appreciate them. You might even consider making a spreadsheet so you can keep track of everything like this recent graduate. This goes beyond just the time that you’re job searching. Make sure that you’re always keeping in touch. This recent graduate kept in touch with her former internship employers and later in life found herself working with them again.

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