How to Use Family and Friends: The Most Difficult Network to Leverage in a Job Search

The good news is that the people who know you best, your family and friends, really want to help you. But it is easy to squander this resource by tapping into before you have thought through how you can best help your extended family help you.

The bad news is that since most of them may have known you since you were a snot-nosed brat, you were categorized, stereotyped, and pigeonholed long ago. Case in point: after thirteen books and millions of copies sold in many languages around the world, my family is still genuinely surprised that I know to come in from the rain.


Family and friends are far from stupid, but unlike the contacts in your professional networks, they probably don’t have a full grasp of what you do for a living. It is easy to confuse your immediate circle by treating them the same way you do professional colleagues. However, with the right guidance, your loved ones can and will cast a wide net and come up with leads for you. Even if they have nothing to do with the professional world they know people who know people, especially crazy old Aunt Aggie.

Here are the steps to help your family and friends help you:

  1. Think carefully about what you do for a living and put it in a one- or two-sentence description that even Aunt Aggie can grasp: “I am a computer programmer; I write the instructions that help computers run.”
  2. Think carefully about the job you want, the kind of company you will work for, and the kind of people you need to talk to. Condense these thoughts into a one- or two-sentence explanation: “I’m looking for a job with another computer company. It would be great if you or your friends know anyone I could talk to who works with computers.” Keep it non-specific.
  3. Give them the information you need to get in touch with these people: “I am looking for the names, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of anyone in these areas. I’m not looking for someone to hire me; I’m looking for people in my field with whom I can network.”

This process of breaking your networking needs into just three simple statements gives your immediate circle something they can really work with. You can do this with them one on one, or you can get everyone together for a barbecue and get the new program moving in one fell swoop.

Join Martin every week to learn more about writing a killer resume, getting more job interviews and turning job interviews into job offers at his free weekly webcast, Mondays at noon central. Details: http://my.knockemdead.com

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