Two people having a conversation.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it was as simple as asking someone for a job, and then sitting down for an interview? It would certainly be much easier than submitting a resume to a dozen different companies, and then waiting to hear back. Unfortunately, that’s not how the hiring process works. Thankfully, there is a way around that- if you play your cards right. We’ll explain the best way to ask someone for a job, and how you can make it work for you. Read on!

Try a Nuanced Approach

I should start by clarifying that you won’t actually be walking up to someone and asking them for a job. Not only does this put them in an awkward position, it’s usually an impossible favor to ask. In most cases, companies hire only when the have the allotted budget, and the need for a new employee. Generating a new position will only happen if a candidate is out of this world impressive, or if the company is a startup. So instead of asking the direct question, we’re going to explain how you can approach it, and how you should prepare.

Before you approach anyone, you should do a few different things. First, you should figure out what kind of job you want, and what type of company you want to work for. In this case, it’s actually beneficial to have both a general idea as well as a list of specific companies. Go ahead and develop a ‘target companies’ list, but also have a general idea for the type of work environment and responsibilities you’d want. From there, you should look at your network, and figure out who within your network is working in your profession. The next step is to contact these people! However, what you ask of them is very important.

Asking For Advice

Instead of asking these people for a job, you will instead ask them for advice, which you do need! If you are looking to make a transition, or find a new opportunity, advice is always helpful from other professionals in the industry. Send them an e-mail, or LinkedIn message, letting them know what your situation is, and ask them if they’d be open to sitting down to have a quick conversation, and maybe share some advice. Keep the message short and sweet, and then wait to hear back.

If they, agree, you should do some further background research on their company, and their role. Give their LinkedIn profile a thorough look through, and read up on the company. This will help you be informed, and better understand their situation when you sit down. Understanding where they are at in their career will give you better framework for any advice they may give. Also, it has the added benefit of you looking more intelligent and professional. When you do sit down, ask them a few questions about their career, and ask for any advice they may have:

  • How did you arrive at where you are now in your career?
  • Is there any crucial advice you would share with anyone looking for work in this field?
  • As I continue my search for my next opportunity, are there any recommendations you can make?

The Ultimate Goal

Your questions don’t need to be poetic, ultimately you are looking to accomplish a few things in this conversation. You want to let them know you are:

  • Looking for a job.
  • Qualified and professional.
  • Interested in their advice.

If you convey these three things, it will make them sympathetic. The better they understand your situation, and the more they realize you value their advice, the more likely they will be to share.  Your goal is to have them walk away realizing you are a professional, qualified individual who would be of value to any company. In the best case scenario, they may even help you find a job! Although it may not be at their organization, sometimes people in this situation will be willing to contact others they know in the industry. You will find you are more successful with this method, as opposed to just going directly to someone and asking them for a job. In the worst case, you at least walk away with some valuable advice and insight in your field. So either way, it’s a win-win!