The Job Slut: Playing Matchmaker

Last week, I mentioned that a former co-worker asked me out. I know you guys were waiting with bated breath to see what happened, so here it is…

Nothing happened.

I’m not comfortable going on a date with a former co-worker I haven’t seen in nearly a year. In fact, I think the whole thing is really weird. I’m not sure how much he and I have ever spoken about non-work stuff. Would we even get along in real life?

I told my former co-worker that we should hang out platonically before he considered asking me out. Romeo replied, “Why? Are you not attractive anymore or something?”

So yeah… I’m getting that inscribed on the inside of the wedding band.

But let’s talk about matchmaking of a much less awkward nature — job matchmaking. Smart freelancers are always on the lookout for new connections and opportunities, because you never know when one gig is going to dump you. Publications fold. Clients run out of money. Work dries up like menopause. (No offense to the menopausal. I love them. Here’s to the ladies who moisturize!)

Just like dating, you’re probably your own best job matchmaker. You know your type of gig and what fits your schedule, lifestyle, and career goals. But it’s still great to have friends who always keep you in mind. I have that in a mentor and a would-be life coach, who is not to be confused with a real life coach. He’s way too snide. I get by with a little help from my friends, whom I’ve mentioned here and here ( Friend with Work Benefits and More Friends With Work Benefits.)

I pay it forward, too, though that’s not what I call it. That would be annoying. Ahem. I try to hook up my work-seeking friends, as I’d like to be hooked up. That is, after all, the Golden Rule.

Your true friends are probably up for playing job matchmaker, but you’ve got to prepare them. Here’s what to do:

1) Tell your friends you’re looking for work.

Duh. They aren’t just going to assume you’re in need of more money or work. Especially if they’re job monogamists. Make a point of telling your friends (and friendly, more professional contacts) that you’re looking for work. Also: Mention what kind of work. You can do this in person, because you and your friends probably talk about work. That’s not just me and my friends, right? You can also occasionally send a succinct, non-spammy e-mail mentioning your job hunt. Just don’t be desperate or annoying.

2) And here’s what you’re looking for…

If a friend keeps forwarding you random prospects that you reject, he or she will eventually get tired of trying to help you. So you need to tell your friends how best to help you. They don’t all need copies of your resume, but they need to know what you can do and what you want to do. (Note: They’re not necessarily the same thing.) I don’t explicitly tell my friends how much money I expect to be paid, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing a minimum hourly rate or explaining that you don’t want any jobs in a certain sector.

3) Be accessible.

Let your friends know that they’re welcome to give out your email address and phone number. Better yet, consider having a portfolio or professional website they can share. If you’ve told your friends what you’re looking for, you shouldn’t have to worry about some weirdo calling you with a referral.

4) Thank them. Thank them very much.

Say thank you to every opportunity someone passes your way, even that weird gig that you’d never take in a million years, like writing dog and cat horoscopes. (I once did that for money. It was fun.) Offer feedback, like “Yes! More like this!” or “The pay’s a little too low, but thanks for thinking of me!” Do it promptly.

Has a friend ever helped you get a job? Please share your job matchmaking tips.


Photo: HBO.com

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