Home > Careers > How to use Friends to Influence People

How to use Friends to Influence People


Students laughingIt might not seem obvious to some people but friends can be an enormous help when looking at your career. One of the best ways of gaining new information is via a friend network, social discussion can often bring about that gem of knowledge that you would have missed or would have had to search hard for if you hadn’t known where to look. Often I’ve been looking for a solution to a problem that is easily solved by simply bringing it up in conversation with a friend. The internet is a vast resource, it’s easy to get stuck in the mire of useless or irrelevant data and when you’re lost it’s always helpful to ask for directions.

But friends are even more useful than that. Take, for example, starting your first CV. If you haven’t visited your careers service to pick their brains or collect one of their helpful guides then looking over a friends CV can be a great starting point (obviously it’s better if they have been to visit their careers service!). The most professional report writer can miss a spelling mistake and even a computer’s spell check won’t spot a word slip. It’s easy to skip a mistake even after the tenth reread and fresh eyes can spot what you miss so use your friends and family as proof readers. This has several added benefits. It can get you over the fear of giving your CV to people and also they could spot something you’ve left out or suggest your wording is changed, to boost an achievement, for example.

There is the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, or the Human Web, which states that every person is at most six steps away from any other person on the planet. Think about how many friends and relatives you have, that’s the potential to meet a lot of people. You might not know that your best friend’s second cousin actually works in the industry you are targeting and without bringing it up in conversation they might not even mention it. Obviously they are under no obligation to help you and the last thing you want to be is pushy. You might ask them if they know of any opportunities around at the moment, what they might expect to see on a CV in their line of work or even if they could look through your CV to give you some pointers. Asking outright for a job would be pushing your luck but you’d be surprised at the generosity of strangers and you never know what opportunities an easy request could lead to.

When that day comes that you have an interview looming and the nerves are starting to get to you, turn to your friends. Ask to be interviewed by them, either with their own questions, or a selection you have thought up/got from your careers service. You’d be surprised how much it helps you focus (even if, like me, you have a particularly giggly friend who pulls faces at you) and repeating the process can make you remember the answers to those tricky questions. They will also spot things you might do subconsciously like fidgeting or not making eye contact. This interview practise (which you can also do for your friends too, it’s just as helpful from the other side of the desk) definitely helps you become more relaxed and that shows to an employer.

So go out and tap into the wealth of contacts you might not have noticed before and remember to return the favours you accept on your rise to career success! Right, I’m off to get someone to check this for spelling mistakes for me…

Jerome Price

Careers Professional

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