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Ask And Ye Shall Receive Job Leads

If you've got friends, family (or both) and you're looking for a job, you're sitting on a treasure trove of employment tips and tricks. To gain access to them, all you have to do is ask.

That's because, if the people you know are working, they must have said or done something right. Or else they wouldn't be working. So stop trying to reinvent the wheel and start emulating what's worked for others.

Here are four questions to ask your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers (past and present) to shorten your job search ...

Question #1: How did you find out about the job you have now?

I'll wager that at least six of every 10 people you ask will answer: "I heard about this job from someone I knew." In other words, networking got them hired. If so, ask if you can be introduced to that same networking contact!

But no matter what answer you get, you're doing two smart things by asking this question.

First, it's an excuse to let people know you're in the job market, which can produce employment leads all by itself.

Second, when you ask anyone for advice like this, you flatter that person. Which makes them more likely to return the favor by sending you job leads later.

Neat, huh? But wait -- there are three more questions ...

Question #2: Could I see the resume and cover letter you used to apply for the job you have now?

You can learn a lot from a job-winning resume and cover letter: You'll get ideas for new layouts, word choices, what to include, what to leave out, etc.

A word of caution, however. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Just because your friend's resume and cover letter led to an interview and job offer, doesn't mean you should emulate them 100%.

When in doubt about new resume formats or cover letter phrases, leave them out. Or test them by using your new resume and cover letter to apply for jobs you don't really want.

Question #3: How did you prepare for job interviews?

Chances are, the people you'll ask didn't do much at all. Or if they did, their interview "preparation" was no more than a 10-minute Googling spree.

So, by all means, take note of how your friends prepared for their last job interview. Then resolve to do even more before your next one.

This means you will carefully research the company you're interviewing at, to learn about their products, problems, competitors, customers and opportunities. Arrive at your next interview ready to make an immediate contribution and prove you can do the job, right then and there.

When you do this, you will always -- always -- get more job offers.

Question #4: What one thing would you do differently in your next job search?

Any honest person will have a least one regret. Expect to hear laments like: "I wish I'd proofread my resume more carefully," or "I wish I'd practiced answering more interview questions."

After your friends answer your four questions, thank them sincerely for their help. Resolve to learn from their successes and avoid their mistakes. Then -- here's the best 37 cents you'll spend all year -- mail a thank-you note to everyone you spoke to. Your friends will be delighted and will be much more likely to send you job leads down the road.

Why don't more people ask friends and family for job search tips? After all, asking others is the best way to find a dentist or plumber, right?

But finding the right job is infinitely more important than finding the right plumber. So never hesitate to ask for all the help you can get. There's no shame in being unemployed. The only shame is in not learning from others.

Why not start asking -- and receiving -- today?

-Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1996, he and his team have provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients in all 50 states and 23 countries. Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, CBS MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly, CBS Radio, and many others.

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Resume and Cover Letter Secrets Revealed