How to Get Friends Help in Your Job Search

It is common advice to notify your network of your job search. However, many people do not feel comfortable with this. They say it feels like nagging your friends, being a nuisance, perhaps even a problem. They also feel that they are imposing expectations on their friends that cannot be fulfilled. And that is something nobody wants to do to their friends.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In my experience, I find that informing your network about your job search can be a gratifying experience. In this post, I will show you how to easily tell your friends that you are looking for a job, and in a way that will guarantee success.


  1. It is not  shameful to look for a job.

In my opinion, it is crucial to start with a  shift in  mindset. First of all, embrace the fact that it is not shameful to look for a job. On the contrary, it is shame NOT to look for one, when one is fit and able to work, but instead chooses to be financially dependent on others. Even when you can rely on family wealth to pay your bills, you might still be willing to work to be active, go out, meet people and feel needed – there are many things  that a job can fulfill besides earning you an income. So it is absolutely fine to search for one. What is not fine, and is perhaps the reason why many people dread being asked for help in a job search, is expecting others to find the job for you.

Once you feel comfortable with the idea that looking for a job is the right thing to do, you can follow up with making it easier for your network to help you.

2. Make them feel comfortable with your request

As mentioned above, people dread being asked to help in a job search because it often implies an expectation to find a job for the person asking. You can make the process more comfortable for them by clearly stating what it is that you expect. What I find works best is to say: “I wanted to let you know that I am looking for job. Preferably in sales. If you happen to know of any vacancy where my experience and skills might be of use, it would be great if you let me know, so that I can apply directly”. Such phrasing gives people flexibility: they can recommend you when hearing of suitable position, or pass you the info about the vacancy.

3. Narrow it down to help them help you

It is difficult to help somebody when you don’t know precisely  what they need. It is the same with a job search. Saying: “I am looking for a job” is too general for other people to respond specifically. Give them some more information that they can bear in mind. Say what kind of job you hope to find or what you are good at, e.g.“I am looking for an position in something marketing-related.” Though it is not super-precise, it definitely helps to narrow down the options. However I often recommend being very specific, with people in your network who are not specialized recruiters, being a little less precise can be most beneficial, as it might be difficult for them to assess the differences between various positions that are known only to professionals active in particular sector.

4. Call, meet up or email – whatever works best

How to tell your friends that you are looking? I know people who took months before informing their network just because they were waiting for “the right moment”. Well, there is rarely a ‘right moment’, if at all. Just inform them in a way that works best and feels most natural in each case. If you are meeting somebody next week, do it during the meeting – instead of calling them just for that reason couple of days before. If you are not going to meet your friends anytime soon, but you have a good relationship – give them a call. If you don’t speak that often or have more casual relationship, send an email. Last week a friend of mine did exactly that: she sent me an email saying that she was looking for a new job. In a few brief sentences she highlighted her past experience and described what kind of job she was looking for. What I really liked was that she also included her availability (potential locations and timing). The message was clear, concise and nicely phrased. I had no hesitation in forwarding it to people I know who might find her skills useful for their business.

5. Not everybody will be helpful

Well, yes. Though this might sound unpleasant, it is true.

The fact that somebody is in your network and you inform him or her that you are looking for a job, does not automatically make them to help you. Be prepared to face this. Some of them will not feel comfortable with your request (despite you taking all the precautions we talked about above). Some will quickly forget – not because they don’t care, but because there will be other, more important issues in their lives. Some will be willing to help, but won’t be able to as there won’t be any opportunities in their own network suitable to pass on to you. So, at the end of the day, only a small percentage will actually be helping. Finding a job is a game of numbers, so you will have to inform people as widely as possible in order to get help from only a few. Just have this in mind from the start and it won’t have any impact on your self esteem.

What are your experiences with informing your network about a job search? Have you faced any difficulties?

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