For many people who are on the hunt for a new job, finding employment typically means filling out applications and submitting resumes until your fingers bleed, attending career fairs, and countless wasted hours of refreshing your email’s inbox waiting for some good news.
But have you ever thought of simply asking employers about job opportunities?
Asking about job opportunities is a great option for job seekers who have the skills, experience, and social capital to sell themselves to companies that they would specifically like to work for.
But that doesn’t mean you can just straight up ask an employer “So, how about those job opportunities? You got any of those lyin’ around?” It’s important to be strategic and tactful in how you ask for a job so you don’t end up looking like a helpless, desperate goon.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to ask for a job in person and how to ask for a job in an email.
“I’ll take ‘Can I have a job?’ for 200, Alex.”
The first step to asking for a job without saying “Can I get, uhhh, a job?” is to figure out who to talk to. You’re going to want to direct your questions to the person who would be your potential director or manager, so take to the company’s website or their LinkedIn to do some digging and figure out just who that person is.
Try to avoid directing your networking efforts to employees at your level — they might feel threatened by your go-getter attitude and commitment to working for their company. Stick to talking to people who can either hire you or having connections to people who can hire you. You don’t want anyone sabotaging your job search.
An informational interview is a powerful secret weapon. Informational interviews act as a great way to network with potential employers and learn more about their company and their industry.
The only problem with informational interviews is that they aren’t advertised anywhere and require effort on your end to make them happen.
Try to schedule meetings with employers who can give you unbiased career-specific advice. This could range from people who have had long careers in your industry of interest, or someone who works in a different field but has connections to people in your chosen industry.
Even if the people you meet with aren’t currently hiring or can’t help to meet your immediate goals, it helps just to get your foot in the door.
If you don’t have a connection to someone who can introduce you to a potential employer, email is a great way to passively ask for a job.
The most important thing to remember about this email is that it needs to be sales pitch. Sell your candidacy to the reader and make them want to hire you. Find the employer for the company you want to work for, and let them know that you’re interested in learning more about their career history, their growth, and their insights.
An email to a potential employer asking about available jobs may look something like this:
Dear John Stamos,
For the past five years I have followed your career and the success of your company through news events, interviews, and research. I admire your dedication to [name of industry] and your understanding of [an aspect of their industry] is very impressive.
I have had the privilege of sharpening my skills and gaining experience in [name of industry] by studying [major] at [name of school] and working for [previous companies]. In my current position, I am [name of current position and] at [current company].
I would appreciate having the opportunity to meet with you and gain insight into your suggestions as to where my strengths and experience would benefit [name of company], and to learn about possible job openings with your company.
I look forward to meeting you.
And you’re done! Easy as pie.
Once you’ve landed that valuable informational interview, it’s time to perfect that elevator pitch. You can expect for your new contact to ask for you tell them about yourself, so your response should quickly get across who you are and why you’re worth keeping in touch with.
Your elevator pitch is a 30 second speech that summarizes who you are, what you do, and why you’d be a great fit for a position. It gives you the chance to introduce yourself and also ease any looming doubts in the mind of the person you’re meeting with.
For example, if your resume says you have a history in public relations, but you’re meeting with the CEO of a renewable energy company, you can use your elevator pitch to explain why you’re looking to make the transition between industries.
The most important part of asking for a job is how you ask for it.
When asking about job opportunities in person, use passive questions that hint to your goal of landing a job. You want to frame your question in a way that makes you appear to be resourceful and curious, rather than needy and annoying.
Concoct some strategic questions that can give you insights into these companies and, potentially, lead to offers for an interview or a job. Make sure to be clear that your contact’s company will benefit from helping you.
Using one of the following examples is a great way to create opportunities for yourself without having to say “Can I have a job please?”
“Do you have any suggestions for how I can stand out as a candidate?”
”I’d really love to work on a team like yours” or “I love what your company is doing when it comes to [name of an area that interests you], I’d be so excited to work on a team like that”
”I heard XYZ Company is looking to work on [problem], what’s your opinion on [tool/approach]?”
“Do you have any suggestions for other companies that I should look into?”
If you’re successful, your contact will take this question as an offer to send your resume to a hiring manager and potentially schedule an interview, or they may offer to connect you with friends who work in your industry or field of interest.
Whoever came up with the saying “Finding a job is a full-time job,” really wasn’t kidding. Finding a job or a company you’re passionate for takes more effort than scrolling through Craigslist ads on your phone.
To get the job of your dreams, sometimes you have to get out there, make connections, and ask for it.
Go into your networking ventures with a clear idea of what you want to get out of your conversations with potential employers, whether it’s a job interview with a specific company or just more connections with people in your industry. Having clear expectations will help you keep your eye on the prize.
Now that you know what to do, it’s time for you to get out there and build connections with people you can help you get the job you really want — without having to sound despairingly hopeless!