“Oh, I know this guy...”
“Let me show your resume to the head of operations....”
“Here’s my email. I’ll forward your resume to my assistant to pass on to…”
Do any of these phrases resonate?
We all have them—parent’s friends, friend’s parents, the guy you used to babysit for—and they all really want to help you find a job. But what happens when forwarding your resume becomes a rabbit hole? What do you do when you hear nothing but crickets?
How do you ride this emotional seesaw without losing faith in humanity?
The double-edged sword of connections
Connections can be wonderful, bringing with them the promise of future employment, a steady paycheck, and money for rent! People relish the sense of feeling useful, of assisting others in a way they once would have appreciated when they were in your position.
The problem is, meaning well doesn’t always translate into a fait accompli. And when that happens, things can get sticky. We become mired in questions, like:
- If someone has done you a “favor,” how aggressive can you comfortably be in pursuing their lead?
- How eager is too eager?
- How much time is enough time before “just” checking back?
- Am I being annoying?
- I haven’t heard anything so I guess I wasn’t a good fit?
And so you go, corkscrewing yourself into a place of utter hopelessness.
Or, is it actually okay to be that squeaky wheel?
People feel great helping others
Don’t let paranoia get the best of you (especially if you’re a woman, which I’ll come back to in a post that will be going live next month).
Helping others makes (most) people feel great! In fact, this is why the second your mom’s friend’s friend overheard a discussion regarding your interest in finding employment in the nonprofit sector, she jumped right in!
Sure, the workplace can be competitive but it can also be collegial. Egos are double-edged swords, too. Of course there are times when they can cause an interruption but, in instances like this, a person’s (self-stroked) ego can be your conduit to a promising future.
Think about it: how wonderful would you feel if you were (one day) able to use your position, accomplishments, and connections to make something great happen for someone else?
Grab the bull by the horns
Now that we’ve established that paying it forward feels good, ignore those intrusive thoughts. Don’t hold back. In fact, this is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate some positive job attributes. Here are some thoughts to consider:
- There is a big difference between assertiveness and aggression. Assertiveness in the workplace is a positive quality—aggression is not—so avoid conflating the two.
- The ability to see something through by following up is critical. If you let balls drop, nothing happens. This is your moment to keep that ball in play and show them how reliable you are.
- Communication skills are crucial—and this is your moment to let those skills shine. Show them what a smooth operator you are by being articulate on the phone and writing concise, eloquent emails with no spelling errors!
- Confidence is an asset. Don’t assume that silence means you didn’t make the cut. Assume you are the perfect fit—unless you hear you’re not.
- And if that happens, ask what you could have done differently. Learn about yourself from the experience, whether you land the job or not.
Pro tip: Try to maintain contact with one connection within a company at a time. If a few days have one by and you haven’t heard anything, reach out to the same person again.
Developing our professional selves is a winding road. If someone has offered to help, assume that they expect to hear from you—more than once. And, as a social impact newbie, practice patience and do your best to trust the process. More importantly, get comfortable trusting yourself. Taking the initiative to even read this post is a step in the right direction.
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About the Author | Jennifer Abcug, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist in New York City, where she specializes in women’s life transitions. Prior to this, she counseled patients and families at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Convinced the earth moved after reading Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day,” the question: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” has become a focal point of Jennifer’s practice.