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January 19, 2010
Pay it Back, Pay it Forward – The Do’s for Helping in a Job Search

More than 100 people have sought advice from me in just the last six months on topics ranging from cold calling, search techniques, bad bosses, jumping ship, jumping fences, compelling resumes, coaching references, and building networks. I have seen or heard the good bad and the downright ugly. Consistently what strikes me as I look back is the lack of knowing or understanding “the art of doing well by doing good.” I am talking about paying it back and paying it forward.

While it may be a generalization, so many of the “gainfully employed” are woefully ignorant of the nature of the job search and the incredible frustration endured by job seekers as they pursue the hunt. Sometimes it bears remembering that the shoe can be on the other foot. With this in mind here are a few do’s for those working stiffs who may be contacted by people looking to get out of the unemployment queue.

1. Respond to your friends’ requests for advice, connections or referrals! Sure you are busy. But take some time to consider helping a friend and even someone who could be a potential friend or colleague.

2. Remember and heed the past! Consider those times when you were in the job hunt. Do you recall how disappointing it was to get no response from anyone? Why not shave 15 minutes off your lunch hour to make a couple of calls or emails to help folks connect.

3. Return the favor! Are there folks who have helped you in your job or during your career that are facing bleak career prospects? How about the supplier who saved your skin at the last minute or the client that kept you in business with more business? Reciprocity is a two way street. Get busy helping!

4. Be proactive? In the course of your day, have you received a call from a recruiter looking for referrals? How much time could it take to provide names of friends and/or colleagues that might fit the job description? Are there jobs going begging in your own company? Why not reach out to friends that could be a good fit and get them into your firm for interviews?

5. Say a good word! If you have friends, colleagues or acquaintances looking for new opportunities, consider endorsing their capabilities. Web sites such as www.linkedin.com are a great platform to sing the praises of folks that have done a particularly spectacular job for you either as boss, employee, supplier, mentor or even nemesis.

6. Students are people too! Get involved in helping young people. Did you ever have a mentor that showed you the ropes or gave you disaster-avoiding advice? Sure you did. Take some time and be a mentor. Help others avoid pitfalls that may have challenged you. Spread your wings and take a couple people under them.

Paying it back and paying it forward is just the moral thing to do. In this economy, or any economy, helping people always pays dividends.

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Gerry Corbett is the PRJobCoach at prjobcoach.com and CEO of Redphlag LLC, a strategy consultancy. He has served four decades in senior communications roles at Fortune 100 firms and earlier in his career in aerospace and computer engineering with NASA. He has a B.A. in public relations from San Jose State University and is a member of the International Advertising Association, National Investor Relations Institute; Arthur Page Society, National Association of Science Writers, and International Coaching Federation.

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