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Someone is looking for a job

I received an email from a former colleague a few days ago. Here’s an edited version of his email.


From: [former colleague’s email address]

Sent: January-08-09 8:49 AM

To: [me]

Subject: Meet for lunch?

Hi Martin. It has been a while since our last meeting. How have you been?

I wanted to let you know that after I left [company name] I completed a 24 months data warehouse mandate at [client name]. I have learnt a lot from that project. Recently, I registered to do my PMI certification. Even with my family constraints, I’m hoping to complete my PMP before the summer.

I heard you recently move to a new company and you are responsible for their Business Intelligence practice. I might be interested in a new challenge. Would you be able to meet me for lunch so we can talk about potential opportunities for me with your company?

I’ll be away next week, returning on January 20th. It would be great if we could meet during that week.

Let me know which day is best for you.

Talk to you soon,

[former colleague’s name]


From time to time I receive similar emails from people looking for a new challenge. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking a friend, a colleague, an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, for help in finding a job but I see an issue with emails such as this one.

If you haven’t noticed there are a lot of “I” in the message and not a lot of “You”. My former colleague is obviously trying to demonstrate his career has progressed since we last met but fails to realize he is the one asking for something – a meeting to talk about potential career opportunities – not me.

If my former colleague had included valuable content for me, I would have certainly been more inclined to agree to a lunch. For example, if he had research the company or tried to find out about our market, our projects and offered some help. Something like: “I have read an interesting book on the topic of Agile software development and noticed your company is a leader in this segment. I was wondering if I could share some thoughts with you. Something along those lines would work fine.

The point of my example is to talk to people in terms that interest them – not you. If you are asking for something, think of the other person’s perspective first and offer elements interesting to the other person before asking for something for you. You will certainly increase your chances of getting what you want.
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