Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Dear Coach Joan,
I’m in an active job search mode and having a hard time finding leads. The people in my employment support group suggest I contact my former co-workers, friends and family to help in making connections to job opportunities. I tend to be a little shy but I know it’s important to ask for help. I’m hoping you can suggest effective ways for me to ask for some assistance with an outreach letter or email.
I’m sorry to hear you’re having a tough time finding job leads. And your employment support group is correct; many people find job opportunities by reaching out to those they already know. And the most effective way is to give your contacts clear information about what you have to offer to potential employers, and some clear parameters of what you are looking for.
People often assume that others know what their skills and talents are, but typically that is not the case. Even when we have friends who’ve worked at a company for many years, we often only know that they are in ‘marketing’ or ‘sales’ or ‘manufacturing’ but we often know little more than that. It’s vital that your outreach letter be very clear about your work related experiences and, briefly, how they translate into value-add skills for an employer. And I suggest you include a recommendation or two to show that you have been well regarded in the workplace. Sometimes I even recommend adding a list of target companies or organizations where you’d like to work. Always try to add a personal note in each letter. People appreciate and respond to personalization; i.e., reminding them what a great time you enjoyed at their son’s play, asking about their new job, commenting on something new in your shared community, etc.
The guiding principle in doing an outreach letter is to:
Give your friends and family the vital information they need to best connect you with opportunities.
Here is a sample letter from a client who is is a recent college graduate:
I hope this message finds you well.
I am currently in full-time job seeking mode having recently graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obisbo, summa cum laude. And I just learned that over 70% of new employment opportunities are found through one’s network. Therefore, I am reaching out to you in the hopes that you might have some solid work connections for me.
Thank you in advance.
As you probably know, I participated in three excellent business internships during college. They were excellent because I had the chance to really make a difference, and I learned a lot about myself as a contributor to the business world.
I’ve had the good fortune to see that I love working in a dynamic business environment and colleagues and managers consistently gave me feedback that:
1) I posses a unique combination of both business and technology capabilities and passion.
2) I quickly adapt, learn and contribute in new teams and new work environments.
3) I have a natural ability to understand technical products and clearly communicate information in a compelling way.
Examples of how I demonstrate the above can be found in my portfolio (attached).
How Can YOU Help the Susan Thomas Employment Campaign?
If you are aware of an opportunity, or have contacts within an organization that you could put me in touch with, I would greatly appreciate it. I am currently seeking a role that allows me to contribute my sales and marketing skills, while also utilizing my analytical and writing skills as demonstrated in my 4.0 coursework average. I have always been committed to both quality and hard work in every endeavor I’ve taken on.
I have attached my Resume Portfolio, as well as a link to my LinkedIn profile which provides several recommendations.
While my own job search is important, so is reconnecting with friends and family. Even if you are not aware of any opportunities, please feel free to message me back with what is new in your life!
I look forward to hearing back from you.
After drafting your letter and preparing the attachments, you want to make a complete list of all possible friends, family and co-workers. Even include community connections like medical professionals, doctors and dentists, hairdressers, insurance brokers, teachers and professors; people who’ve known you over the years. And make sure to include all family friends and even neighbors. One client sent her “Friends and Family Letter” to everyone on her street and it turned out that a neighbor worked at one of the companies that was on her target list. She was connected to the person who became her new manager!
And send the letters out in bunches, about 5-10 at a time. You want to stagger your outreach so your follow up is manageable. And it is vital to follow up with a phone call or email with each person. I suggest waiting about 3-5 days to do the follow up. Sometimes people have received your letter but it’s not until you contact them that they take the time to focus on connections for you.
In real estate the key words are: Location, location, location.
In job searching the key words are: People, people, people.
Good luck with your Friends and Family Outreach letter and let me know how it goes.