Do’s and Don’ts of Leveraging Family and Friends to Get Jobs

a family dinner / the family interaction / that is happening

Family Dinner From AboveWhen it comes to effective job hunting, it’s no surprise that most experts say to tap into your network. It’s about who you know and, in turn, who they know and so on. Most of the time we think of our network in the professional sense and often reach out to those with whom we have weaker ties—former colleagues or people we attended school with, for example. But what about your family and close friends? Many people have difficulty approaching those closest to them about their careers because of feelings of pride or shame that they cannot find a job on their own. However, by not sharing your job hunt with family and friends, you’re ultimately hurting yourself. These people have a vested interest in your success, so it makes sense to tell them what’s going on in your life and what you’re looking for so that they can become part of your informal job search team.

While it may feel a little sleazy and uncomfortable to use family and friends to get a job, as a virtual career coach who’s helped clients find jobs in a number of ways, I know it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to leverage your personal connections that will help you without harming your relationships. Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to job hunting with the help of family and close friends.

DO make a contact list of family and friends to let them know about your job hunt and what you’re looking for. Be specific! It will help people know the types of opportunities you’re interested in.

DON’T go overboard with emails to your family and friends. Everyone has busy lives, so you want to be grateful for their involvement but respectful of their time. Send an initial email to let everyone know you’re looking for a job then send periodic updates (every 6-8 weeks) to keep your family and friends posted on your progress.

DO check with family and friends before reaching out to people they know. Giving them a heads up is the courteous thing to do, but they may also provide suggestions on the best way to communicate with their contacts (e.g. calling someone versus sending an email).

DON’T assume the contacts of your family and friends are your contacts. By making this assumption and communicating with their contacts behind their back, you’re putting both your family and friends and their contacts in an awkward position.

DO use family gatherings (e.g. holiday parties) to let people know you’re searching for a job. If someone asks how you’re doing or what’s new, it’s okay to put that information out there but make sure not to sound overly negative or desperate. It will make the other person uncomfortable.

DON’T make your job hunt the sole topic of conversation at family gatherings. Let the topic come up organically, and if it doesn’t, find a subtle way to insert your job hunt into the conversation in a casual manner that doesn’t appear calculated.

DO take advantage of any offers from family and friends that come your way. Don’t let pride get in the way of accepting what’s being given.

DON’T take advantage of family and friends by using them or their names whenever it’s convenient for you. Now that is sleazy.

DO reciprocate and remember the importance of giving. As the saying goes, “When you get, give. When you learn, teach.”

DON’T forget to show your appreciation for having a wonderful group of family and friends who support you and want you to succeed.

The more people you tell, the more your odds of finding your next job will increase. Your family and friends want the best for you, so don’t be afraid to include them in your job search. Subscribe to my blog for more great tips on networking your way to the job you want.

Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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