During your process, you’ll cover more ground and get better results if you turn to your network for help and guidance. The community around you—including your friends, professors, former bosses, coworkers, your parent’s friends, and your friends’ parents—can open doors for you and provide information and solutions that you may not be able to access alone. But there’s just one catch; the strength of these relationships will be more important than the individual favors these people might be able to do for you. So no matter what you need or how badly you need it, you’ll need to put the relationship first and ask your questions with courtesy, patience, and respect. Here’s how NOT to make that happen.
1. Ask At the Last Minute
If you need a recommendation letter by May 1, don’t ask for it any later than April 15. Most working people have very tight schedules, writing a perfect recommendation letter takes time, focused attention and effort. If you want the person to make a commitment, give them enough time to do so. Otherwise they’ll have little choice but to decline.
2. Ask Without Helping
If there’s anything you can do to make your wishes easier for the person to accommodate, do these things. Don’t ask if you should do them or if the person would like you to do them…just do them. For example, don’t say: “I need this recommendation letter by May. Should I send you a list of all of my accomplishments so you can refer to them in the letter?” Just send the list. If there’s any possible way you can help the person to help you, then do so. Make this a pleasant experience.
3. Ask with an Attitude of Expectation
When we ask someone to pass the salt or hand us a pen, we do so with an attitude of expectation. After all, they have no reason to refuse, and the favor is an easy, simple gesture that requires no sacrifice or hardship on their part. But asking for anything more taxing requires a little bit of consideration and respect for the person’s right to say no. If you really do believe the person will say yes, don’t let this belief show in the features of your face or the tone of your voice when you ask.
4. Ask While Also Doing Something Else
When you ask someone to help you or do you a favor, give the person your full and undivided attention. Never make an important request while you’re looking at your phone, while you’re driving a car, while you’re holding another conversation at the same time, or while you’re restlessly waiting to rush off to your next appointment.
5. Ask More than Twice
Don’t be oblivious to hints. Most people don’t like to say no directly, since they don’t want to seem rude. But an unspoken no is still a no. If you keep coming back over and over and trying to force a direct response by leaving message after message in their email and voicemail inboxes, the no will still be a no…and the next time you ask for something, you may not get through at all. Ask with a light hand, and as you do so, be ready to thank the person and reciprocate the favor as soon as you have something to offer.For more on how to get the things you need while protecting your relationships, explore the job search resources on MyPerfectResume.