I want tell you the most powerful job hunting secret you’ll ever hear. OK, big call, I know, but time after time, when I speak with job hunters, this is one of the most radically under-used strategies I see. Or rather, don't see.
And before you get all skeptical on me, I can tell you now, that scientifically, mathematically and any other kind of ‘ically’ you’d like to throw at me, it’s an actual fact that you’ll be six times more likely to get a ‘Yes’.
Somewhat unimaginatively, I like to call it ‘The Big Six’. And here it is: You don’t ask one question, but six. Boom! There it is. So what exactly are these six mystical questions? Here goes...
- The first one is, of course, “Hey, can I have a job?” and most of you will have that one covered. It comes in many shapes and sizes, and you can try adding things like “Please” or even “Or else” onto the end of it. But the general question is what it is. But for some reason, this is where most people stop. Which is like digging for oil and giving up 2 inches down. Or putting only one bullet in your Job Hunting gun. It’s stupid really. You’re there, you may as well load up and give it everything you've got.
- A job may actually be the ‘Holy Grail’, but you can also ask for work experience. Not sexy or glamorous, but a good foot in the door. Sometimes this gets called an ‘internship’, (which sounds much nicer than ‘slave labour’), and I know not everyone is interested in prostituting themselves for little or no pay, but I stand firm by the idea this can be worth considering under the right circumstances.
- As much as work experience is a no-money pain for you, it’s worth remembering it can also be a pain for the company having you hang around like a bad smell. They need to find you a desk, maybe a computer and possibly a baby sitter. As the (not very) old saying goes, “Ain't nobody got time for dat”. So if there’s no job and no work experience, try asking if there’s a brief or project you can take away and work on. In your own time and space. It’s a great way to show what you’re capable of, and if it’s a live brief, you may even prove helpful. Plus you get to come back for a follow up.
- If you’re ‘Strike Three’ from the first three questions, you’re still not necessarily out. This isn’t baseball, you can survive three strikes. Your fourth question then, is to ask if they can at least give you some solid feedback on your portfolio or résumé. Find out what they did and didn’t like about it. This can not only prove useful for future interviews, it shows them you’re a thinker. It’s one thing to put down how clever you are in your résumé, but if you really were that clever person and you had all that initiative you say you have, you’d be asking questions like this. Every. Single. Time.
- Ask them if you can stay in touch. If you’re really ambitious, and you really respect/admire/like the person, ask if they’ll be your mentor. Just don’t use the word ‘mentor’ cause it scares the hell out of most busy people and they’ll be worried you’re going to camp in the corner of their office for the next few years. Just make it sound real casual like, “hey, would it be OK if I dropped you an email every now and then if I have a question or something to run past you?”. Most people are pretty decent and will say ‘yes’. The ones who don’t are probably arseholes and you’re better off without them. Getting permission to stay in touch is a great way to, ah, well, stay in touch. And that’s a massive part of the job hunting process - being around and top of mind when an opportunity arises.
- Ready for this? This one question could, right here, right now, absolutely majorly multiply your chances of getting a job. Before you leave, even if it’s on your way out the door, ask if they can suggest anyone else you can go chat with who may be able to help you. If every person you went and saw gave you one or two more names, you’d generate a sensational prospects list. Even better if when you call the new contact you can name drop and say “So and so suggested I come say hi”... That little phrase right there will get you into plenty of extra doors.
So there you go, The Big Six. Asking these six questions every time you meet an industry contact will radically improve your chances of success. Even if you don’t get a job, instead of being too bummed about it, you can very easily come away from a meeting with something useful.
It’s probably worth mentioning, I go through some of the ins and outs of these in more detail in my Job Hunter’s Boot Camp, but mostly they’re self-explanatory so add them to your arsenal of job hunting weapons and happy hunting!
About the author
Sputnik is an internationally awarded creative and brand consultant at Out of this World where he has worked on projects for some of the world’s biggest brands including Disney, Coca Cola, Unilever and The Simpsons. He is the author of 'The Swashbucklers Guide to Becoming an Astronaut' and the creator of the Job Hunter's Boot Camp.