Sometimes you cannot just come straight out and say to someone, “Can you get me a job where you work?” Questions like that are imposing on others to do quite a big favor without anything in return. There are better, more subtle ways to request a job.
The ways listed below will help you create opportunities for yourself without scaring others off by appearing too needy, desperate, or always seeming like the person who asks for too much without giving in return.
1. “It would be great to work on a team like that!”
You go to an event and you run into someone you know. You know they are hiring for a fact and you want to be a part of the team. Start a conversation while trying to weave this line into the middle of it:
“Have you seen what [insert name] company is doing? I love that! I’d be psyched to work on a team like that!”
This is a slick way to push your contact into talking about the type of team you would like to work for. It’s also a great way to show you are familiar with their industry. Ask a few more questions and then ask how you can get in touch to learn more. You have all the information you need to send a follow-up email the next day to get your foot in the door. Try this template:
"Great seeing you last night! I enjoyed discussing your work with [Company]. It would be a pleasure to share some ideas on how I could help as a member of your team. Would you like to have coffee this month to talk about this some more?"
2. “What do you think about the way [this company does something]?”
A person who takes more than gives will not get very far in his or her career. Giving more than you take is always a smarter career move, so here’s a special way to find out how you can do just that before meeting someone who is hiring.
- Research the person you’re hoping to connect with and their company before you see them.
- Find a way to show your value long before you’ve reached the all-desirable interview step.
- Offer an opportunity for the person to show you how much he or she knows.
Try saying this:
“Did you see how [that company] is looking to work on a [problem]? What do you think about their approach?”
Let the person talk and talk from here on out. Listen for details on problems you know you can solve. Afterward, offer to follow up with some additional pointers. Offer to walk the person through how you would approach the very same situation.
3. “What have you been working on recently?”
It is such a simple question and the perfect one to ask any serial entrepreneur or former colleague. There are those people who always stay busy, always seems to have a new iron in the fire or a new startup.
Simply by asking the question, you are opening the door to find out if there are jobs available for you to contribute. The tough part about this is that you are hoping the person is up to something and hiring at the very time you email.
The good thing about asking the question is that you may inspire a conversation that will lead to you finding out about new opportunities. A great way to spark a conversation that may lead to discussions about job openings is something like this:
“I read your most recent blog about how you wish to transform [this industry]. It was very interesting! What have you been working on recently?”
Even if your business contact replies with nothing useful, you still have the opportunity to start a back and forth discussion about the person’s latest project. It is not a solid confirmation of employment, but down the road, you may see an opportunity to work together because you were supportive of the project from the moment you asked about it.
Make the goal more about starting dialogue
If you take the advice above and use it as a way to be an opportunist, people will see right through your plan to get hired. And it will not look good for you.
Instead of asking questions with the goal of making a career move, make it more about asking questions to start dialogues that extend into business hours. Share common interests, referrals, and recommendations, then something will happen for you.
Even if the person you are talking to is not hiring now, the odds are you will be on his or her mind when it comes to hiring a person who is generous, solves problems, and is easy to work with!