If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: When you’re job searching, you should tap your network for advice and assistance. But the COVID-19 pandemic—and the unemployment or reduced salaries that’s come with it—has turned so many aspects of the job search upside down. Whether you’re newly out of work or, are are new to the job market, or have been job searching since before the outbreak began, you might be unsure if it’s still OK to ask for help when so many people are going through such a difficult time.
The answer is yes, but with some caveats. During any job search, you want to contact the people you know to see if they can assist you, and right now is no exception. However, you will need to change the way you reach out.
That said, you might even find that people are more eager than ever to lend a helping hand, whether that means getting on the phone with you, introducing you to someone else in their network, or forwarding your resume to someone in their company who’s hiring for your dream job.
It’s never easy to figure out exactly what to say when you’re asking for help in your job search, and it’s especially difficult when you’re trying to be sensitive during a pandemic.
3 Rules for Reaching Out in Dubai During the Pandemic
Before you go off and send out dozens of messages, there a few important guidelines to keep in mind as you tap into your network during COVID-19:
1. Ask for Something Specific
People in Dubai are always more likely to help when they know exactly what they can do, and that’s even more true now when they might be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain themselves. While they might want to help, they won’t necessarily have the bandwidth to figure out how. But if you ask, “Can you tell me more about working in [X industry]?” or, “Could you possibly introduce me to your coworker who’s hiring for [Y role]?” you’ve given them something concrete they can easily say yes or no to. And once they have an idea of the kind of help you’re looking for, they might be able to offer more suggestions.
This also means figuring out what you want from your next job and what you bring to the table before contacting your network. “Knowing who you are and the problems you can solve or the value you can bring to a company” is key, and can make it easier for your contacts to advocate for you if needed.
2. Be Genuine and Empathetic
Remember, everyone is struggling to some degree right now. We’re in a truly unprecedented time, and unless you’ve kept in close contact with someone, you don’t know if they’ve been laid off, or had their pay cut. They may be dealing with their own illness or the illness or loss of a loved one or facing high levels of anxiety and other mental health challenges.
So be personal, sincere, authentic, [and] inquire about how they’re doing. Start every email with earnest, heartfelt questions about them and their loved ones and an acknowledgment of the time we’re all going through, and try to make your messages overall as personalized and conversational as possible, taking into account how much you know them.
3. Be Patient
This is not the time to pressure or hound people over slower responses. If you haven’t heard back after a week or two, it’s OK to gently and politely check in again, but if you don’t get a response at that point, move on, and don’t take it personally. (Unless you know them well, in which case do check in again, but as a friend making sure they’re safe, not a job seeker asking for a favor.) Prepare yourself for the fact that you may need to reach out to more people than usual to find someone who can help.