A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Asking for a Job Referral
Dear Sue: I am a recent college grad looking for a job. I know
several people who are executives at various levels in different
companies. I feel I have enough contacts that I should be able to find a
job. I know some of them better than others and am not sure how to ask
them for help. Do I just e-mail them and say, ďI need a job, can you help
me out?Ē or is there a more professional way to ask a contact for a job or
Ė Recent graduate
Sue Says: You are fortunate to have contacts at many levels, and
wise to use them in your job search. To answer your questions; no, you
shouldnít e-mail anyone to say you need a job, and yes; there is a more
professional way to ask for a job or a referral.
Your contacts should be one of many tools you use in your job search,
however, donít assume that because you have contacts that they will find
you a job. Finding a job is up to you, and you need to use all of your
resources; your contacts are one of many resources. With that said, review
your contacts to determine how you think each one can help you.
Do you have a specific area of interest or qualification? Are you
looking for a particular type of job? If you call someone and generically
ask for help finding job, you will likely receive a generic answer.
If you really want people to help you, find out how they can help you.
Do your research; find out all you can about the accomplishments of the
person you are contacting and learn about the companies and industries
they work in.
Before you make contact, have a specific reason for making contact.
Then keep in mind that people are busy. The higher the position, the more
likely you arenít the only one asking for his or her time.
Your first connection should be with a personal letter. Remind the
person who you are and what your connection is; donít assume everyone will
make the connection or recognize your name. After you mention that you
have recently graduated and are looking for a job, it is best to identify
the reason you are contacting this individual -- Do you want to learn more
about the industry or company? Do you want to learn about his or her path
to success? Do you want advice on how to get into the industry or company?
Would you like a referral to the hiring manager or someone else? The
clearer you are about your objectives, the more this person can help you.
Then ask for what you want; do you want an appointment, a referral, a job
or advice? Include a resume with your letter and your plan to follow up.
You can follow up with a phone call or e-mail or both. Then it becomes
tricky; you may or may not receive a response. It is up to you to continue
to make an effort to make a connection, but you do not want to become a
pest. I know that this is most important to you, but your wants and needs
may not be of concern to the person you are contacting. If you donít
receive any type of response after the third try, back off. Youíve made
your needs known, youíve sent out your resume, and for whatever reason,
this person is not able to help you right now.
You can follow up again in the future, but leave it alone for a while.
You are fortunate you have many contacts; contact them all. The more
people you contact, the better your chances of success. Good luck!
Dear Sue: I recently received a "President's Award" and a $2,500
check. The president's note said that my immediate supervisor had
recommended me for the award. I was acknowledged for my efforts on a
project I was involved in, as well as my overall performance.
I verbally thanked my supervisor when he gave me the president's note
and check, but have yet to thank the president. I am not sure what I
should do. Is it proper to write a thank you note? Do I write one to both
of them? And what do I thank them for Ė the award, the money or that pat
on the back?
- Award winner
Sue Says: I think a thank you note is a wonderful idea. It may
not be expected, but it will be appreciated. You donít need to be wordy,
just be sincere. Start by thanking your supervisor and the president for
acknowledging your efforts. Then tell them that you appreciate the award,
which you will proudly display, and the generous check they gave you.
You donít need to do anything more, but can rest assured you will have
validated their decision. Not everyone would think to write a note of
thanks; and the fact that you did is a display of your character. Keep up
the good work; I have a feeling there are more awards in store for you.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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