Asking an acquaintance for help/advice regarding new opportunities

Below is a script for asking an acquaintance for help/advice regarding new opportunities - hopefully you find it helpful. Obviously, you’ll need to tailor it to your situation by changing the words in CAPITALS first. You might even put your own style on it, but it’s a start.

"Hi ,

{YOUR NAME} here - I haven't seen/spoke to you since XYZ. I hope you're well...

To cut straight to the chase, I was wondering if I could ask you a massive favour. I'm looking for a new job a the moment after leaving the world of ABC behind me, and it's all a bit scary. So I was wondering if you have any advice for me on how to change jobs or find new opportunities? I'm open to any and all suggestions.

Basically, I'm looking for roles in {AREA, AREA and AREA}, or learning and development - that sort of thing. And I've completed a {COURSE TITLE} course recently.

I totally understand if you're swamped at work at the moment, but if you knew anyone who you think I should talk to or any roles coming up, I'd really appreciate if you could let me know. Of course, I'd look forward to returning the favour if/when the time comes!"

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CAREERRonan Kennedyscript
Following up on rejections

Thank you for taking the time to review my application for this role. I know these decisions are often tricky and the most likely reason I didn't get an interview is that there were other candidates who were more suitable, which I completely understand.

Also, I really appreciate you following up to let me know I haven't been successful, even though I'm sure you're busy - so thanks for that.

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CAREERRonan Kennedyscript
My Top 40 Favourite Quotes on Work and Life

'Lincoln told a story to an audience of generals and admirals about a man who had approached him for a high-ranking government appointment. First, the man asked if he might be made a foreign minister. Upon being turned down, the man asked for a more modest position. Upon being turned down again, he asked for a job as a low-level customs officer. Finding he could not get even that, he finally just asked for an old pair of trousers. Ah, Lincoln laughed as he concluded the story, "it is well to be humble”. '
From The Daily Stoic, by Ryan Holiday

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Ronan Kennedy
This is your biggest fear

Not being good enough. There, I said it.

It also comes in many iterations as well, e.g. not smart/educated enough; not fast enough; not successful enough; not rich enough, or poor enough (depending on your group) etc.

I've been pondering on this one for a while now as it concerns a huge amount of people that I meet (and of course myself!) - I'm human after all. 'What's the answer? What's the solution?'

I don't know. But here are some thoughts on it:

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Safe problem. Quality problem.

You know that problem that’s been kicking around inside your head for the past 3+ months? C’mon… you know the one. It’s the first thing you think of in the morning and the last thing in your head at night. Yea, that’s the one… that’s a Safe Problem.

Safe problems are lingering issues that are within our control such as: procrastination, hesitation, overeating, blaming others for your troubles, avoiding commitment to a relationship or avoiding making a decision.

On the other hand, a quality problem is much different - you’ve had plenty of those before as well.

Quality problems involve a risky forward-thinking decision such as: changing jobs, starting a business, committing to a relationship or leaving a relationship etc.,

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Book Club: So good they can't ignore you

Cal Newport has written a very engaging and important book on the topic of whether or not you should follow your passion. He questions this ubiquitous advice, its real world implications and the financial viability of following through on following your passion.

“The happiest, most passionate employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but instead those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do. On reflection, this makes sense.” Cal Newport

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Have you heard about Fear-Setting?

When it comes to making big decisions that will have big consequences, we all get nervous. What happens if it doesn’t work? What happens if I fail? What happens if I can’t go back? These are all valid concerns and should be dealt with rather than avoided and left to ruminate in our heads.

There’s a great exercise by a bloggers named Tim Ferriss called Fear-Setting which he outlines in his Ted Talk below. Basically, it’s about breaking each fear into three steps:

  1. DEFINE - state exactly what the fear is

  2. PREVENT - outline how you could possibly prevent it from happening

  3. REPAIR - describe how you could deal with it even if it did come to pass

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Create a professional summary to "sell yourself"

“You need to sell yourself more“ is a phrase you’ve probably heard one hundred times or more. But the chances are that you don’t like the idea of selling yourself at all. Something about it seems awful, or disingenuous. But, never the less, we need to be able to do it - especially if we’re competing against others who are selling themselves really well. Below are some points you can use to sell yourself well and to talk about yourself in interviews. The idea is that you don’t sell yourself as more than you are, but not less than you are, just exactly as you are, and honestly. That way, you’ll have no trouble backing up what you’ve said and it will give you more confidence when describing your career.

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How to sell yourself and sound humble
  1. I had the opportunity to work with a great team which allowed me to...

  2. My role involves taking responsibility for...

  3. I've really worked hard over the past few years to develop my skills in...

  4. I've been fortunate enough to work with clients/stakeholders and deliver..., which resulted in an increase/improvement

  5. Luckily, after some trial and error, I figured out that..., which was key because it meant that...

  6. The benefit of the (qualifications/experience/manager/mentor) that I've had, ensured that...

  7. The (challenge) that I've had in my previous role has facilitated and empowered my personal/professional development in terms of...

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Job Application Management

Sending lots of applications to job postings, companies, professional contacts can be confusing. Below I’ve attached a spreadsheet that should help you organise the various applications, along with when you should follow up with them.

I would normally give a company two weeks to respond to an application (maybe longer if it’s the public sector), and then follow up with an email. If there’s no response to that, it's worth calling them a week later to check on the progress of the application.

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How to leave your job

When should you leave your job?

  • Firstly, you have to consider your financial stability and employment options - you need to be financially stable to leave your job, and ideally you should have another job to go to.

  • You should leave your job if you are extremely unhappy in it and you’ve been unhappy in it for a while. I think it’s important to acknowledge that we all have parts of our jobs that we don’t like, but we should aim for about 80% or more satisfaction - I think that’s reasonable.

  • You should leave your job if the environment is toxic and you’ve tried to make it better.

  • You should leave you job if you get offered a better opportunity with good conditions in the contract.

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