How to Ask a Connection to Put in a Good Word!
References make all the distance in standing out
After painstakingly crafting your cover letter and tweaking your resume, you’ve finally applied for a position at your dream company. You know it’s important to make sure your application doesn’t get sucked into the black hole of resumes, so you start thinking of ways to stand out.
Hopefully, you’ve also taken the time to connect with people through college and on into your job search. Now, it’s time to utilize those connections. Your resume is more likely to be picked up if you have someone at your target company who can vouch for you. Here’s how to leverage your network to help increase your chances of getting your dream job.
Whether it’s a friend or an acquaintance—or someone you don’t really know at all—you don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed or burdened with your request. You want to make it easy for him or her to help you. This is especially true for acquaintances, who may not know you that well, and those who don’t know you at all: These connections may need a bit more from you before they have the ability—or reason—to put in a good word. One way to achieve this is to find a common ground between the two of you.
If you don’t have something obvious in common, use your research skills to dig deeper. Google your connection or scour their LinkedIn profile to see if he or she has an interest in sports and follows a team you love. Or perhaps he or she mentions in one of his or her online profiles a professor with whom you’ve taken a class. Once you’ve figured out something the two of you share, mention this when reaching out to your connection. Try something like, “I know we went to the same school, and I saw on your profile that you worked closely with Professor So-and-so. I’ve just taken a class of hers, and it was really eye-opening!”
Once you know who the hiring manager is, be very specific in your request to get a good word in. For acquaintances, start your request with something like, “I’d really appreciate it if you could introduce me to the hiring manager, and if you need to know more about me before you do that, please let me know.” Offer to send your resume and a short bio so your acquaintance can have a better idea of who you are and what you’re looking for.
If you know your connection well—maybe she’s a close friend from school—your request can be a bit more relaxed: “I know you’re good friends with the boss at HR. Do you think you could pass my name along to them, and put in a good word?”
Give them an “out”
The last thing you want to do is pressure your connection, or make him or her feel as if he or she has no choice but to help you. Your connection may have just started working at the company and doesn’t have very much influence, or perhaps he or she doesn’t know the hiring manager so well and would like to avoid coming across as pushy.
Asking someone to put in a good word can be a risky favor, and you want your connection to be able to respectfully decline your request if he or she doesn’t feel comfortable.You want to make sure your connection is comfortable with helping you. Having an “out” lets him or her know that you know his or her time is valuable, or that you understand he or she might not know the hiring manager too well.
Your network is a vital aspect of the job hunt. Even if your first connection says no, don’t stop the search. Keep your chin up and keep looking until you find someone who is willing to help. And if he or she asks you to put in a good word in the future, be sure to return the favor!
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