The Job Hunting Question That Will Change Your Life

  • interview
  • job hunt
  • job search

Tristan had been job hunting for 7 months. He continually revised his resume and cover letter, but it never got him in the door for an interview. He expanded his job hunting approach from online job boards to offline job fairs and association meetings. Nothing. Not one interview.

After investing two years of his life in graduate school, he was starting to question if he had made the right choice. He’d left his wife and 5 year old daughter behind in the hopes of advancing his education and securing a job in Europe. He desperately wanted to be with his family again. First, he had to find a job. Time was running out. His student visa was expiring in 5 weeks.

The Question

Job Hunting | Ian Jenkins
Job Hunting Obstacle: Avoid asking contacts for jobs

As an foreigner looking for a job in Europe, he was at a disadvantage. Tristan’s local language skills were poor, his employer would be required to apply for a work visa on his behalf and he had no professional network. He wasn’t sure how to overcome what felt like impossible challenges.

When he asked his contacts if they knew of any job openings, the response was often cold. Asking for a job made others question his employability. With no other options he put his challenge in the hands of others by simply asking for their career advice.

When he asked for advice, the response from hiring managers was dramatically different. Managers welcomed him to coffee meetings where they answered his career related questions.

In the advice meetings, he often asked the same set of questions to help him discover his next opportunity.

  • How did you start in this industry / company / role?
  • What do like about this industry / company / role?
  • What don’t you like about this industry / company / role?
  • How does someone with my background follow your footsteps?
  • Who else should I connect with to get additional career advice?

The Mindset

Tristan’s breakthrough happened when he re-framed his job-hunt. He altered his question from asking for a job to asking for advice. This one question changed his life. It opened doors to hiring managers who had previously ignored him. During his advice meetings he received valuable insights on how to overcome his challenges as a foreigner in Europe.

Job Hunting | Ian Jenkins
Job Hunting Tactic: Ask for career advice, not for a job

It took Tristan only four advice meetings with hiring managers to land his dream job! He started with an administrator from the university and within 3 additional advice meetings, a hiring manager he met created a job for him on the spot.

Within weeks, his family reunited with him to create a new life together in Europe. His beautiful wife and daughter are excited about the possibilities ahead. All it took was a simple question, a request for career advice to change the life of a job-hunter and reunite his family.

The New Job Hunting Approach

Take achieve breakthroughs in your job-hunt using this approach, temporarily suspend your job hunt and refocus your time on gathering advice.  Why? The number one determent for job-hunting success is face-to-face time with hiring managers. It’s the tipping point job-hunting activity. It leads to more than 80% of your success as a job hunter.

1. Ask for advice

By asking for career advice you gain valuable exposure to hiring manager that asking for a job won’t get. It elicits a positive response because it’s ego gratifying and no-risk. While subtly presenting yourself during the advice meetings, you’re gaining access to the 80% of jobs available that aren’t advertised.

2. Prepare Your Questions

It’s common that job hunters and career changers have unanswered questions regarding their next step in their career. Use those unanswered questions to drive the agenda in a informal advice meeting with hiring managers. What you’ll learn can save you years of frustration in jobs that aren’t a match for you.

3. Don’t use your resume

Although there’s thousands of books, blogs and articles providing fresh approaches to crafting your resume, the advice meeting is NOT where you want to present your resume. The reason is you’ve ask for advice, not a job to secure a meeting. Nothing creates distrust faster than showing your resume and conveying an ulterior motive in an advice meeting. Leave the resume at home and instead bring a pen, notebook, and list of 5 questions to the advice meeting.

4. Ask for a referral 

During the advice meeting, your contacts will bring up new ideas for you to consider in your career move. Ask for referrals to contacts that can help you discover more about these ideas of interest. If you’ve built trust and managed the meeting professionally it’s common to walk out of a meeting with at least two referrals.

Lessons learned

  • Asking for career advice is a small change in a job hunting strategy that can yield big results.
  • Face-to-face time with hiring managers is the most important metric of success for job-hunters.
  • Gathering advice from industry veterans will provide valuable clarity in your job search and often lead to jobs that are unadvertised.
  • Don’t bring a resume to an advice meeting. The exposure with hiring managers in advice meetings will position you for opportunities without using a resume.

Thanks for reading.

– Ian Jenkins