31 Dec 2020

Making an ask - An unconventional approach to your next job

By Paddy O' Leary

Studies philosophy at Trinity College Dublin.

His favourite music is the inside of a bookshop.

Email: connect@paddyoleary.com

Have you tapped the huge potential in telling as many people as possible that you know personally about your job search? This is especially worthwhile in such a small country like Ireland where if you don’t already know somebody in your desired industry or job, you probably know somebody who knows somebody.

This might sound like the headbangers whose claim to fame is that their sister’s fourth cousin’s uncle is the president of Ireland. But hold your cynicism for a second. Any human connection is better than no connection. People like to work with, hire, do business with people they already know including people who the people they know, know! This is about trust. Those who can be even reasonably trusted get more doors opened for them and faster. But this won’t happen by itself.

First we need to make an ask. In other words, let people know we're on the lookout for opportunities so that they can open them for us. Or they can connect us with their friends who can.

People love to help. It’s important we reframe this idea of asking for help. Think of it this way. By asking for help we are giving people the opportunity to help us. When we consider how much meaning, purpose, and how much of a kick we get out of helping others, why not give this same feeling to them by asking for a hand?

Of course there’s a difference between making an ask and being a pain in the ass. As long as we show initiative and don’t expect others to do all of the heavy lifting for us, people are always happy to help.

In order to make an ask we first need to have a general sense of what we are asking for. We don’t even need to be specific. For example, we don’t need to know that our former colleague has a sister who could get us an interview with a company we’d like to work for. How could we possibly know that information anyway? However we do need to have a strong sense of a general direction from our side. This direction might be knowing what role we’d like to work at, what industry we’d like to start in, the people or company we’d like to work for or even the location we’d like to be employed in.

All we need is one general sense of our desire. After that it’s about naturally expressing this desire with as many people as you can. Not in the sense of complaining that we are not there yet. Nobody wants to listen to or help a moaning Michael. Instead with a sense of excitement about the possibility of your desire becoming a reality. That’s all we need to do. 

We often underestimate the power of speaking our desire. Perhaps no opportunities arise the first few times. But each time we speak our desire, we become clearer and clearer on what it is we want. On top of that, those we talk to can help us see different routes towards our goals we might never have considered. People are inherently helpful. When we affirm their good qualities and put things out there by making an ask, we can be surprised by how opportunities will seem to unfold out of nowhere. 

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