I was once contacted by a job seeker through Twitter who sent me very urgent missives asking me for job search help. They instructed me to check my e-mail for a message he had sent me. When I got the note, the person’s message provided a number of reasons why they couldn’t pay for a resume service, but they wanted to see if I could basically provide my services for free. Unfortunately, I can’t because this is how I earn my living to pay my bills. To be fair, I do get a lot of these types of notes on a daily basis, and my heart goes out to all the people that are unemployed and experiencing financial hardship. To that end, I volunteer and donate my time to the Oregon Employment Department teaching classes on how to write resumes. Through this program, I try to help as many people as possible who don’t have the resources to pay for these services. As it happens, this person lives back East and they obviously can’t take advantage of this class… so I wrote back and offered some specific resources that were free and would be very helpful to help them get on their feet. And, you know what? I didn’t get even an acknowledgment or thank you from that person. That part I can live with. Some people don’t "get" common courtesy when someone went out of their way to help them, and we can write that off to poor upbringing, laziness, or general lack of manners. But what this person did next really exposed the obstacle between themselves and their job search success: I got another message via Twitter with a demand: "Are you going to help me? Yes or No? I need to move on to other resources if you won’t." Excuse me? Demanding job search help doesn’t mean you will get it. Especially when you burn bridges along the way. I might have tried to help this person a little more had they been a little softer and kinder. That doesn’t mean they would have scored a "free" resume, but I could have taken more time to help them and offer more quick coaching tips. Which brings me to the point of this post: There are tons of career blog posts out there talking about the VALUE of building relationships with people. If you take the time to build connections, you will have a better opportunity to activate others who are willing to go to bat for you. Most people, when asked (politely and respectfully) for help, they are more than willing to provide that assistance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help; it’s when you demand it -when you put an ultimatum on it - that people start to have knee jerk reactions and turn their backs against you. Most of us understand we cannot "expect" or demand others give us what we want. Like respect, good will has to be earned and is not simply given away. And, in a job search, one needs to build up as much good will as possible to open as many doors as possible. THAT is the key to a successful job search.
May 25, 2013