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It could be at a party, a wedding, or any other social gathering. If you’re like me and many other talent acquisition professionals I know, hearing these words can make you cringe. Instead of the first response that comes to you, which is usually something along the lines of, “Unless you are in Industry X, with Y years of experience doing specific things, my client is not going to want to talk to you,” take a breath, then take a step back. Manners and professionalism dictate a warmer response. Here are some guidelines to help you handle a situation like this.
Have the conversation and really listen. Ask this person about what industry their experience is in, how many years they have been doing it, and what they have been doing to market themselves so far. Sometimes just having someone listen can be a big help to a job seeker; and you need to do that – really listen. We all know there are different recruiting tactics that can vary from industry to industry, but often times, the rules of work civility are the same. If this job-seeker you are speaking with is doing something that would be an immediate red flag to yourself and any other TA professional, let him or her know that, in a kind way.
Be clear that you can’t make promises. It doesn’t make you a bad person; it’s just the way it is. Believe me, I wish I could help everyone too. As stated above, we, as recruiters, are usually looking for candidates with specific experience and skill sets. Rare is the occurrence that we come into contact with a potential fit for the position we are trying to fill in a social setting. Not impossible, just rare. This means that most of these interactions will not be anything that yields anything immediate, for either one of you. Be upfront about that.
If possible, offer help. As stated above, sometimes just listening can help. Some verbal guidance and suggestions can be useful as well. If you feel comfortable, you can take it one step further and offer resume review. As recruiters, we look at more resumes than we can count. Offering your professional opinion can be a great resource for the job seeker.
Add to your network. Depending on how well you know the person, you can also offer to add him or her to your online professional network. I recommend this course of action as it may open up some doors for both of you, if not now, then maybe in the future. You never know when you will need a contact in a different industry and consult with them for their expertise, just as they consulted with you for your expertise. There is also the chance that they may come to you and your company when they have need of your services, thus helping to grow your business.
In conclusion, when you hear the words, “Can you find me a job?” take the following steps: Listen to what they done so far along their journey as a job seeker, offer verbal advice, and be clear that you may not be able to help immediately. If you feel comfortable, offer resume review and add him or her to your online professional network. It is very possible that this will end up being mutually beneficial at some point in the future.
By JoAnna Tumminello | People Science Talent Advisor