Help Me Help You Help Them: A How-To Guide for Asking

I know I went on a tear about the need for people to just ASK already. (OK, so I’ve written many articles about asking here and here and here.) However, I one particular email I get on a regular basis that I think is worth talking about. It’s the “I’m looking for a job” email. This is what I usually get:

Hi Jo, I’ve decided to leave my job / have left my job and wondered if you knew of any open roles. Or if you hear of anything I’d love an introduction. Thanks! Friend

I ALWAYS want to make this happen. If every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room you’re not in, you’re not giving me a ton to work with! You’re asking me and your network to a) do the leg work to get all your information and b) create your positioning language for you. And while I consider myself pretty good at creating positioning language, you’re leaving it up to me. And do you honestly want to do that?

And yet, we don’t make it easy for our network to help make the connections. May I be bold and suggest that you tweak to your ask? If you’re looking for a job, try using the following questions as a template for sending over information about your awesomeness:

  1. What kind of problems are you brilliant at solving or opportunities you’re an expert at opening up? Talk about your amazing talents, but in the language of “problems,” a hiring manager might want to solve. They initially opened the job because there was a problem that needed to be solved not because they were looking for a skill set.
  2. What kind of company gets the best from you? Answer the questions of industry, company size, growth stage, etc. which allows you to be as broad or as narrow as you want to be. Ultimately you’re describing an organization that if they’ve already identified that they have the problem you’re describing in #1 can now say “hey that sounds like us” in the second. Saying “well it depends on the role” doesn’t help a hiring manager see that there’s a fit. Or my personal favorite “they have cash but are pre-IPO experiencing accelerated growth” yeah, well me too on that one. We’d all like to join those rocket ship companies.
  3. What’s the easiest way for people to learn more about you? Be sure to include your Linkedin link or attach a resume. I’m constantly surprised at how many people forget to include this. Yes, I can go and look you up on LinkedIn, but I’m trying to do you a solid. Can you make it easy?
  4. What’s the best way for people to connect to you? Help them help you.
  5. Any other factors we need to know? There are all sorts of random factors people have, so I keep this as a catch all. Of all of the questions, this is the only one you should consider deleting if you don’t have an answer.

Lastly, try creating a template “intro” email that your connection can copy and paste into an email along with the information above.

Remember, it’s not only about making it easy for someone to help you, but also making it easy for her to “sell” you and your human value proposition.

If you’re stuck and you need help, remember I’m here to help,


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