Dear New Shrink,
I have been on the job hunt for a few months now and have really appreciated the support of my friends and former co-workers. One former colleague in particular has mentioned his great connections in the tech industry, which is where I hope to work. He has offered to help send out my resume and put me in touch with several of his professional colleagues and former classmates. I sent him an e-mail with my resume last month and asked him to put me in touch with anyone he knows who can help me find my next gig. I have not heard anything from him and am not sure how to proceed. I am really counting on the help of his network to secure new leads. I’m starting to wonder if he is just full of hot air. Is there a polite way that I can ask him what’s up without seeming too pushy?
Searching for a new job can be a stressful situation, so I am glad to hear that you have friends and colleagues who are there to support you. The key for being successful in securing your next opportunity is not to rely solely on the contacts or assistance of another person; you must continue to be proactive throughout the job search. The time you spend waiting to hear back from a friend, recruiter, or former colleague is time that you could be spending to research a new job lead, network at a job fair, or fine-tune your application. While pursuing the helpful offer of your former colleague can be an important part of your job search, this cannot be the only step you take.
Looking for a new position can be an all-consuming process. In fact, many professional career counselors often advise clients that “finding a job is a full-time job.” This process will take a lot of time and dedication, but also realistic expectations of others. Remember that although this may be the only thing on your mind, your colleague probably has a number of different priorities he is trying to balance. It is important that you maintain regular contact so that you can stay on the top of his mind. This is true not only for colleagues who you believe have a lot of connections, but also those who you have established a good relationship with. You never know who may hold an important role in your future professional endeavors. Since most of us cannot predict the future, it is important for you to maintain positive ties to those who you value.
I do think it is important to touch base with your former co-worker, but it sounds like you may need to re-adjust your viewpoint. He was generous enough to offer support, yet, as far as I can tell, you have only sent him your resume and asked him for contacts. Utilizing your network takes time and dedication; it is not just asking and receiving favors. While it feels good to help others, it is also nice to know that someone appreciates the favor and is willing to do the work once a contact or connection is shared. Perhaps it is important to show your former colleague that you will take good care of his contacts and do the work that is necessary to attain this new position.
I would advise you to connect with your former colleague to give an update on your job search and the steps you have taken. Then, simply ask if he has heard anything from his contacts. This approach will serve as a reminder if he has not already taken action, but does not assume that he hasn’t acted. You might also ask if it would be appropriate for you to follow-up directly with one of his contacts so that the work is now off his plate. Finally, it is crucial that you thank him for his time and support and offer ways that you can re-connect or assist him. Setting up a time to have coffee or talk further will help strengthen your professional ties and show your appreciation for sharing his network.
KATRINA DAVY is a professional career counselor who has worked in university and private settings in New York City and Los Angeles. She holds degrees from Columbia and Cornell universities. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are kept anonymous; let us help you with your life matters!