Job seekers often tell me “I’m worried if I am too specific when I’m asking for assistance, I’ll miss out on hearing about all available opportunities.”
I can certainly relate to people who are concerned that if they are too specific when they ask for assistance in their job search, they will miss out on hearing about other things that might be of interest to them. They tell me, “if I’m vague, then people will just tell me about a lot of things. If I’m specific, they will just tell me about that specific thing.”
Interestingly, a specific request actually just opens the door to so much more. It’s as if you need that specific request to get people thinking about you. Then they may be able to introduce you to the exact person you want to meet or tell you about the exact job you want, though that’s not always the result. If they don’t have that information, however, because you were specific they are able to think of other things that you might be interested in hearing about.
For example, one job seeker usually asked people to let her know if they heard of any recruiting manager positions she might be interested in. She’s a fabulous recruiter, but that request wasn’t getting her any leads to openings or other people to network with. We worked on creating a job search networking strategy wherein she listed the industries she wanted to explore.
Then she started telling people what industries and even the specific companies where she wanted to meet people. All of a sudden she was getting introduced to the right people! It’s as if that specific request just primed the pump to get them thinking. A vague request doesn’t seem to have that impact. And the worst request of all is “let me know if you hear about something…..”
Think about how you might respond to these requests. The first request is “let me know if you hear about something that might be a fit for me.” That request usually gets you a polite “you bet.” But it just won’t get you much more. Even worse, it makes you sound like nearly every other job seeker. What’s the benefit of that?
The second request is “I’ve targeted company XYA as a place I would love to work. Who do you know who works there?” This request can get you a variety of answers, all of them likely to be more useful than “you bet.”
Perhaps the person does know someone there, and would introduce you. Perhaps they know someone at a competitor to company XYA. Or maybe they know of an opportunity at a similar company. Because you were specific, you made it easier for them to start thinking about specifics for you. Just try it and see what happens.