Proactive Communication Will Empower Your Job Search

By Bonnie Tamura, Career Coach


“Looking for a job feels like a full-time job!” clients often say during our career transition coaching sessions. They are correct. As a job seeker, you need to know about current opportunities, organization cultures, leadership styles, advancement options, and whether these elements will have long term career success for you. It is a lot of work.

I often compare the job search process to a research project that requires some online digging and a whole lot of talking to people, asking questions, and finding out “who needs my combination of skills, knowledge, experience, and attributes? Who out there needs me?”

Sometimes my clients will cringe and put up a bit of resistance when I talk to them about reaching out to their network and beyond to ask questions and learn about companies, industries, roles, and job competitions.

With some prompting they may articulate their concerns as – “They are probably really busy and won’t have time for me,” or “I don’t want to be a bother.”  There is also a common concern that “People may ask me about what happened at my last job, and I don’t want to talk about being released,” and “They have the power in the hiring process, and I don’t want to seem difficult by asking too many questions.”

Being in a career transition that is not of your choosing can make people feel much more publicly vulnerable than they would like.

While the temptation to stay behind a computer and not bother others (and stay safely away from potentially uncomfortable conversations) is understandable, it is also too passive an approach to move your career transition in the right direction. It reduces the job search to what is offered by others and foregoes possibilities that are created in conversation with network connections.

In contrast, the act of reaching out and asking others for what you need is informative, creative, and empowering. There is a sense of agency that is found in taking action that creates your future, one that includes a fantastic job. Connecting with others is also an excellent use of time in a job search; studies estimate that between 70% – 85% of jobs are found through networking.

Knowing that an active search will engage your network and be more energizing and successful does not necessarily make it easier to do. Here are some tips that will help you be more proactive in reaching out to others for help in your job search.


Invite Curiosity

Spend some time getting curious about any resistance you have. What conversations do you not want to have? Bring these concerns to the surface, talk through them with a trusted mentor, colleague, or career coach to understand your underlying beliefs, to explore alternate perspectives, and to develop strategies to deal with them.


Ask for what you need

Get crystal clear on what you are asking for and articulate that to the other person. Instead of “Joe Smith thought it would be good for us to meet, do you have some time?,” try “Joe Smith thought you could help me out. I am looking to transition from retail sales to non-profit fund development, and I would like your thoughts about the skills and experiences you look for and about industry trends. Do you have 20 minutes next week for a Zoom call?”



Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What would entice you say yes to your request? Do that.



Respect the needs of everyone in the process, including your own. Respect the others’ time by providing clear time frames and sticking to them. Respect everyone’s right to choose contact methods that fit their needs and tastes. Offer at least two options that you are comfortable with (e.g., Zoom video and phone call) and let the other party pick the one that works for them.


Take nothing personally

A request can be met with a yes, no, or a maybe, which is essentially a negotiation. There are about a million reasons that your request may be met with a no and most of them have nothing to do with you. Thank them for their consideration and move on.


Ghosting happens

If you have followed up twice on your request and heard nothing back, assume good intent on the other’s part and move on. We’ve all had requests fall to the bottom of the priority list.


Learning about the organizations where you can bring your best self to work takes a lot of digging. It is challenging work that requires asking others for information, assistance, and guidance. The payoff is empowering your job search and ultimately finding a job that fits your needs.

To bring career transition support to your organization through outplacement and inplacement programs, reach out to us today at 1.877.777.6827 or online.

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