The Right Way to Reach Out to Your Network After a Layoff, According to a Career Expert
It may have been a minute since you reached out, but that doesn’t mean they’re no longer in your corner.
If you’ve been laid off, it can be hard to figure out where to start when looking for a new job—especially when it comes to reaching out to your network.
We’ve all been there—worried that reaching out to someone you used to work with will seem disingenuous or like you’re asking for something you don’t deserve. But the thing is, people really do get it, especially during this time (read: a global pandemic) when layoffs and furloughs are happening left and right. Everyone is struggling, and chances are that someone you reach out to could realize they’d love your guidance or require a favor in the very near future too. So let go of your guilt and focus on making the most of your existing network. To find out how to go about this in the most professional way possible, we tapped career coach Maggie Mistal.
How to Reach Out in General
Make an effort to individualize every message.
First, pay attention to how you let them know about your recent job loss. “I prefer the personal touch over a mass email to your network or a LinkedIn post,” Mistal says. “That way, you can add context and explain what happened.”
To do this, Mistal encourages her clients to start by reaching out to those in their networks that they’re closest with, as well as those they actually enjoyed working with. Send a brief text or email letting them know you have some news and asking if they’d be available to chat with you.
Remember it’s a two-way street.
“When you’re on the call, make sure to also ask how the other person is doing (and be truly interested),” Mistal says. “Networking is about giving, not just receiving.”
Don’t beat around the bush.
From there, go ahead and let them know you’ve been laid off from the start—this creates transparency and gives you the opportunity to explain yourself. For your existing network, it’s important to let them know that you’re now looking for something new, even if they aren’t outwardly hiring for a role. Once they know to keep their eyes peeled for opportunities, they may start noticing openings within their own networks.
How to Contact Someone About a Specific Opening
Aim for an informational interview.
Now, if you’re reaching out about a specific opening, Mistal advises her clients to request informational interviews first so you “can vet the company, the culture, and how the job will work for you.”
“Ask for advice on how to best apply,” Mistal suggests. “Often the informational interviewee will offer to refer your resume to HR directly.”
If they offer to refer your resume to HR, this is a good point to ask for pointers or suggestions they may have in regard to your resume. (Of course, make sure you’ve updated your resume to the best of your ability before asking them to check it out.)
Always send an extra thank-you.
After the interview, follow up promptly, ideally that day, with an email sincerely thanking them for their time and potentially calling out a particular topic that you discussed during the meeting. Then, quickly follow up on anything you promised to send to them.
How to Reach Out if It’s Been a While
We’ve all experienced a moment when we realize the person who could help us most is someone you just…completely forgot to keep in touch with. Keep in mind, though, that they probably haven’t been thinking about you either, and this is a moment when that fact can weigh in your favor.
“Start by doing some research on them—read their LinkedIn profile and updates,” says Mistal. “Then, email or call to reach out. Acknowledge that it's been a while, but that you were excited to see ‘XYZ’ in their profile or updates, and you were hoping to get a few minutes to catch up and run something by them.”
Remember, it’s much better to ask for advice than to ask for a job. If you’re hung up on the specifics of sending emails, Mistal has actually written out some templates that you can start with on her site.
As you start (or continue) this process, keep in mind that this is a struggle everyone can empathize with—so be transparent with the people in your life and go ahead and let go of any shame or hesitation you may feel.