You may have a few close friends or a wide-ranging network of acquaintances; either way, all contacts are useful for a job hunter and your friends could prove more useful than most. Regardless of whether you’re still deciding what you want to do or are preparing for job interviews, there are ways your friends can help your job search and you can help them in return. Here are our eight suggestions of things you and your friends could do for each other to make the whole job hunting process an easier and more sociable experience.
1. Discussing your strengths
To be a successful job hunter, you need to know your strengths and how to match them with the requirements of the jobs you want. Sit down with one or more of your friends and discuss this; they might surprise you with how perceptive they are. They have observed your behaviour in a range of situations and might see skills in you that you wouldn’t expect. Perhaps they also remember specific examples of your strengths, like that time when your colleague didn’t show up for their shift at your part-time job and your stress management skills turned out to be out of this world.
2. Reading through your applications
Whether you want someone to look for spelling mistakes or offer their opinion, asking someone to proofread your covering letter and CV is a must. Both friends and parents might be able to help you with this, but the benefit of having a friend do it is that they might have a more up-to-date understanding of how things work in today’s job market. However, don’t feel like you have to take all of their opinions on board: if they already have a job or are applying to jobs in a different sector from you, conventions might differ slightly. For example, CVs in accountancy or finance should often be more formal, while you can be more creative with CVs in advertising or marketing.
3. Promoting your work
To get into some sectors, like journalism, publishing or design, having a blog or online portfolio can be helpful. If this is relevant to you, you could ask your friends to share your work on their social media platforms. Additionally, you could draw on your friends’ ideas: if you have a book blog, your friends might have suggestions of books to review that you never would have thought of.
4. Introducing you to people
Your friends might know people who work in the sector you’re interested in, and they may be able to set up some work shadowing. This is a golden opportunity to get experience of a job, network with their colleagues and ask questions. If work shadowing isn’t possible, your friend’s contact might still be willing to answer your questions and give you some helpful advice.
5. Conducting mock interviews
You could ask one friend to interview you several times with different kinds of questions, or a couple of friends to interview you one time each. Either way, you’ll get to do more than just run through the questions and answers you’ve come up with yourself; you'll also get to practise improvising when your friend asks follow-up questions. They might manage to catch you off guard. They could have a look at our interview questions section to find out what questions to ask.
6. Attending events with you
If you get nervous at networking events and careers fairs, ask a friend to come along (or sit with you if it's a virtual event). Showing up with a big group of friends could mean that you get less time with employers to ask them questions, while having multiple people in your room could distract you when at a virtual event. However, having one friend there could be just the support you need. Think about what it is that makes you nervous and ask your friend to help you specifically with that. If approaching an employer to start a conversation is your weak spot, having a chat with your friend as you prepare to introduce yourself is a way of getting in the right mindset. If navigating careers fairs (whether online or in person) confuses you, ask your friend to help out and keep track of where you’re going and where you've been. It will be easier for your friend to help you if you pinpoint why you’re nervous.
7. Making your job hunt easier and more affordable
Getting to an in-person interview can be stressful, so asking a friend to give you a lift could be a way of taking some of the pressure off as you settle your nerves. If your main problem is that you need a professional outfit but can’t afford one, you could ask to borrow clothes from a friend. If you need to travel far to attend interviews, think about whether you have friends living in that area who might let you stay with them for a night or two. Apart from saving money, staying with them is an opportunity to ask questions about what it’s like to live in the area.
8. Providing inspiration with their skills and strengths
If you have a newsaholic friend who’s always up to date on whatever is going on in the world, see if you can increase your commercial awareness by talking to them about news related to the industry you want to work in. Perhaps you could make it a habit to have a chat with them, or ask for tips on what the best strategy is to stay informed on a regular basis.
You might have a very confident friend who seems untouched by nerves in all situations. Talk to them about what makes them confident: is it a question of ‘fake it till you make it’, or is it a way of thinking that you develop through small steps over time?
You can do this regardless of what skills you see in your friends. Talk to the one who is so organised they schedule relaxation time, the innovator who always comes up with the most creative ideas, and the natural leader of your friendship group. Find out how they think; you can’t copy their personalities, but you’ll pick up some useful tips. And, of course, you might learn new things about your friends in the process.