Which, let’s be honest, can be sort of daunting. Who do you reach out to? Where do you start? And, um, isn’t it sort of awkward asking people for help?
Here’s the thing: People are actually always willing to help out. But you can make their job easier—and get better results—if you give specifics about what you’re asking for. And that’s the step that most people miss: asking the right people for the right things, in the right way.
So to make sure you get the most bang for your job search buck, we’ve put together a five-step plan—sample emails included—for enlisting the help of your network as you're looking for a job.
Step 1: Draft Your Talking Points
At this point, you’ve (hopefully) updated your resume, but people will find it much easier and quicker to look at a short, bulleted list of where you’ve been and where you want to go (especially if they’re not totally familiar with your field). This should take no more than 10 minutes to pull together, but it will reap serious rewards.
In it, you should include:
A list of your last three position titles, companies you’ve worked for, and responsibilities. Think your resume, but condensed into three bullets.
Your ideal job title and function, as well as other job titles and functions you’d consider.
A list of 4-5 companies you’d love to work for, plus their locations.
- Account Executive, Smith PR: Served as main point of contact for tech clients including Microsoft
- Account Coordinator, APCO Worldwide: Assisted on high-profile consumer products campaigns
- PR Assistant, Columbia University: Drafted press releases that resulted in media coverage in the New York Times
- Senior Account Executive
- Account Supervisor
- Public Relations Manager
- Edelman, San Francisco or Mountain View
- Ogilvy, San Francisco
- Ketchum, San Francisco or Silicon Valley
- Google, San Francisco or Mountain View
Step 2: Send the Mass Email
Your next step is to contact everyone in your network. (Well, everyone except your mentors, former bosses or colleagues who you’re close to, and anyone who works for your dream companies. We’ll get to that next.)
Draft an email sharing that you’re looking for a new gig, and that you’re enlisting their help. Most importantly: Be specific about what you’re asking for—is it job leads or postings? Informational interviews? New contacts? All of the above?
Also include all the details about you: your current position and company, the length of time you’ve been there, and what you’re looking for and where. Even if your friends know this information, this email may be passed around to people who don’t know you well. Finally, include your bulleted talking points at the end of the email, and attach your resume.
Hi friends and colleagues,
I hope all is well!
As many of you know, I have been at my current position as Account Executive for Smith PR for almost 3 years. I have recently decided to look for a new challenge in the public relations field and am reaching out to you to ask for your help with any leads or contacts.
I am looking for a mid-level public relations position in San Francisco, ideally in the tech or consumer products field. I am particularly interested in joining an agency, but would also consider interesting in-house work.
If you know of any job opportunities or leads that you might be able to share with me, please send them my way. Below, I have included a list of my past experience, my target positions, and my list of dream companies. I have also attached my resume for your reference, and feel free to pass it along.
Thanks in advance for your help! I hope you all are doing well and hope to catch up with you individually soon.
Step 3: Send Targeted Emails
The same day (this is important—you don’t want anyone to feel like an afterthought), craft targeted, specific emails to your former bosses, your mentors, people who work at your dream company, or anyone who you think might be able to help you out in a specific way.
You’ll want to personalize each one (there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re getting a form letter with your name slapped up top!). And most importantly, you’ll want to make a specific request—more specific than your mass email—about how each person might be able to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific introductions or job leads at a particular company. You can also ask for informational interviews, general advice on companies and positions, or feedback on your resume.
I hope all is well! I saw the photos of the conference you held last month on Facebook—it looked like a fantastic event.
I’m reaching out because I’m currently seeking a new position. As you know, I have been Smith PR for almost three years, but I’m ready for a new challenge in the tech PR world.
I know that you used to do work for Ogilvy, which is on my short list of dream companies. Do you still have any contacts there, and if so, is there someone that might be willing to do an informational interview with me? Any introductions you could make would be greatly appreciated.
In addition, if you know of any job opportunities or leads that you might be able to share with me, please send them my way. I’ve attached my resume for your reference, and feel free to pass it along.
Thanks in advance for your help! Please keep me posted on how things are going and if there’s anything I can do to return the favor.
Step 4: Be Patient
In an ideal world, your inbox would be filled with new job leads two hours later—but remember that this stuff takes time. Even if people can’t help out right away, rest assured that they’re keeping their eyes out and that you’ll be on their radar if any opportunities come their way.
That said, if you haven’t received many responses in a month or so, it can be helpful to send a follow-up email. (A friendly, non-desperate follow-up email. One.)
Thanks so much for the great leads and feedback you’ve sent so far. I just wanted to update you that I’m still searching for that perfect opportunity, so if you have any leads come your way, please pass them along. I hope all is well!
Step 5: Say Thanks
You must, must, must send a personal reply and thank every single person who responds to your email or offers to help you out, whether or not his or her lead or contact is helpful in your job search. Yes, people are happy to help, but they also like to know that their efforts are appreciated.
Plus, remember: After you land this dream job, you may be enlisting their help again a few years down the line.