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Advice / Job Search / Networking

How Not to Annoy Your Contacts When You're Asking for Help

When you’re looking for new job, it’s not the time to get shy. It’s time to pull out all the stops—call in favors, reach out to everyone you can think of, and do what you have to do to get your name out there. It’s a hustle!

But asking for help isn’t always easy—especially from one that friend or contact who seems to be connected to the hiring manager at just about every dream company you look up on LinkedIn. You know, the one you find yourself wanting to reach out to over and over again. How should you take advantage this person (which you should, of course), but avoid being annoying?

Follow these rules to get the help you need—without being obnoxious.

Get Your Stuff Together  

Before you reach out to anyone, get to know the companies and position types you’d like to apply to on your own. Do your research, complete your resume and basic cover letter, make sure your LinkedIn profile is 100% up to date, and be ready to jump on an opportunity should it arise.

Why? If you reach out to someone asking to connect you to a hiring manager and he or she agrees, you don’t want to have to this person wait a couple of days for you to put your materials together. And always be ready to jump on a call and discuss your background. The easier you make it for people to help you, the more they’ll want to.

Related: “Help Me Find a Job!” Emails to Send to Your Network


Make Sure You’re Serious

I’m a firm believer in the “apply to everything that looks interesting” approach to a job search—it’s one way to learn what you want and don’t want from a position—but when you’re asking someone to introduce you to a hiring manager or recommend you for a position, you better be serious. If it’s a company you’re really not that into or a position you know is way out of your skill set, it’s not worth anyone’s time asking for a connection just because it exists. Save your favors for the select few jobs you’re really, really gunning for.

Related: 4 Signs You Shouldn't Bother Applying to a Job

Be Reasonable and Gracious 

It’s great to be a go-getter, but when asking for help it’s good to remember the golden rule—don’t ask someone to do something that you’d have a hard time doing yourself. Requesting that someone you’ve just met to introduce you to a CEO or top-level executive, for example, is a bit tacky. It’s better to start things off by asking for advice or insight into the company instead.

And always be respectful of people’s time and the help they’re giving you. Remember to say thank you, make requests instead of demands, and follow up to let them know how it went. There’s nothing worse than someone who asks for a favor, then drops off the face of the Earth.

Related: 5 Rules for Asking Your LinkedIn Connections for Help

Annoy if You Must

Sometimes, with some people, it simply can’t be avoided—you have to be a little annoying to get what you want. And that’s OK. If you really want something, you should be willing to go out and, well, annoy people for it. Whether it’s applying several times to the same company, reaching out to the same contact to see if she’s sent on that resume you gave her last week, or following up after a phone interview to see how the hiring process is going—a lot of getting a job is about sticking your neck out. As long as you’re following up the right way (graciously, via email, and no more than three times) and following the rules above, you shouldn’t be afraid to bug someone a tiny bit.

It’s good to remember that, for the most part, people like helping out—part of growing in your own career is being in a position to help others grow. So be respectful of others’ time, but don’t be afraid either. Another part of growing in your career is about making opportunities for yourself, not waiting for them to come to you.

Photo courtesy of iStock / Thinkstock.