Look, I know it seems so easy – you’ve got friends and neighbors who have jobs at places you want to work. Just ask them to pass along your resume and it will all work out.
Not so fast! This can work in certain specific circumstances (described below), but in most, well…
You may be burning up connections, and you don’t even know it.
Yes, your friends, neighbors, school alums, fellow community members can help you find a job. In fact, they can be a HUGE resource for you. Yet, there are much more effective ways to get their help.
Picture this: You ask a neighbor to get you a job interview. They go out of their way to help you out even though no job is posted, and get you the invite. Then, within a few minutes of sitting down, you turn out to be a terrible fit.
Worst blind date ever!
Now your neighbor is in a little bit of hot water with her boss. She pulled strings and used credibility and made a bad recommendation. Embarrassing.
Likely story? Probably not.
Yet, unless your neighbor knows you really well, she is probably paranoid about this happening. It’s risky for her!
Plus, there’s no way for you to know for sure whether she did anything with your “Dear Neighbor, please send along my resume” message.
Even if she did send it along, it may have a disclaimer: “My neighbor whose work I don’t anything about asked me to send this along.”
And even if your neighbor does get it to the boss, who is to say the boss will notice it in the inbox or take action.
And your neighbor doesn’t want to bug her boss about you. So that’s it, end of the road. Your neighbor may even feel embarrassed that no job came out of it.
What’s a better strategy?
Ask for an introduction (or even better two or three introductions).
Chat with your friends and neighbors. Tell them that you are interested in learning more about their organization and what they do. Are there people that you can speak with (starting with them of course)?
This is a lot less risky for your neighbor, a smaller favor all around, and an easier one to follow up on, for them and for you.
With a resume pass-along for a job interview, the expected answer is no. With a conversation, the answer is much more often expected to be a yes.
You’re now job flirting. Testing the waters, showing you’re fit.
(Quick warning: DON’T ask for a job in these conversations. It’s like going from flirting to a marriage proposal. Awkward. Don’t worry, you’re intentions will be clear.)
At the end of these conversations, ask for two additional people to connect with to learn more.
Then a couple things could happen:
1. You get introduced to someone else, whom you repeat the process with.
2. The person likes you, and starts you on the path towards a job (asks for your resume, to come in for an interview, “let’s chat again”, an intro to a 2nd opinion before you are invited for an interview)
3. Despite best efforts, the person blows you off, but it wasn’t for nothing. You had like a mini-practice interview and understand the jargon and the field better. You’re in better shape for next time.
This is all good stuff. Please do this as much as you can. It works.
So when is it a good idea to ask for a resume pass along?
First, there is a clear job opening that is posted.
Second, you seem like a good fit for this posted job.
Third, you’ve chatted (phone call or in person) with your neighbor/friend/colleague so that they understand you are a great fit for it.
Listen, I want you to have more and better conversations that lead to interviews, that lead you to a new and better job. Remember to be careful of passing along your resume and stay active in starting job-related conversations.