This is the second part of an article about “Leveraging Your Network.” The first part explained how to identify who's in your network and how they’re connected to your target companies. This article will discuss how to engage your network in your job search.

Once you’ve developed your targeted list of connections, where do you go from there? You might be wondering how to approach those contacts, what to say to them, and most importantly, how to turn those connections into actual job leads.

Networking is about being part of a mutually beneficial relationship. Therefore, instead of directly asking your contacts to help you find a job, ask them for these three things: Advice, Insights, and Recommendations –  which create the memorable acronym A.I.R. Whenever you're networking, remind yourself that you just need to get some AIR!

Obviously, if one of your contacts can directly connect you to a hiring manager or pass along your resume, ask for their help. That is the ideal end goal. However, there are other ways that your network can be of great value during your job search. A.I.R is a comfortable, low-pressure way to engage your connections in your job search. Each step has been broken down, below.


Remember that people enjoy giving advice, and if you ask the right people, you can get priceless information. Think about people who can give you strong guidance in any aspect of your job search. It could be advice on how to break into a new field, how to get noticed by a certain company, or how to position yourself for a promotion or higher-level job.

For example, let's say that you want to switch from pharmaceutical sales to software sales. You can schedule a phone call with someone in your network who is in the software or tech industry and gather advice on how to break into that field. Your email request could look like this:

Hi, John. I’m hoping you might have a few minutes to talk on the phone in the next week or so. I'm thinking about changing careers and possibly breaking into software sales. You have a lot of experience in that area, and I think you might be able to give me some great advice. Can we chat next week for about 15 minutes? What day works for you?”

This approach of asking for advice is a great way to get the conversation started, especially if you are new to networking. It will increase the chances of the person referring you for a position, or at least helping you identify a position with the company that might not be posted online. When you reach out, keep your email message short; no more than 5 or 6 sentences.


Let's say that you have a direct contact with a company where you’d like to work. Ask that person what it's like to work there. Ask what the culture is like and if they would recommend it as a good place to work. (Just because a contact works at your company of interest doesn't necessarily mean they're happy there.) Chances are, the idea of helping you or referring for a job will come up organically in the conversation.

Here are questions that you can ask when requesting advice or insights, using the same example of switching from pharma sales to software sales:

  • What insights do you have on the state of the tech industry? What trends do you think I should be aware of?
  • I see from your LinkedIn profile that you used to work at Google. What advice do you have for me to apply there? How can I make my application stand out?
  • I understand that you made a transition in your own career from healthcare sales to software sales. What advice do you have for someone like me who wants to do the same thing?


As the last step, consider asking your network for recommendations. Recommendations can include: companies to research and apply to; companies to avoid because of a bad reputation or toxic culture, and the names of other professionals you should connect with. You can even ask for suggestions to improve your resume or LinkedIn profile that could help you break into your desired field or company. As company “insiders,” these connections can guide you on how to best present yourself.

Here are some recommendation questions you can ask:

  • As I go about my job search, what companies do you recommend that I research?
  • Is there anyone in your network who you recommend I speak with? And would you be willing to make an introduction?
  • Are there any publications or websites that you recommend I read in order to stay up to date on industry news and trends?

Your closest connections are essential for helping you refine your job target and position yourself more effectively for the job you want. These proven AIR strategies can help you start conversations with people in your network and engage them in your job search – all while maintaining a low-pressure, conversational approach.

For more information on this topic, listen to episode 119 of the Career UpRising podcast Leveraging Your Network — Part 2: How to Get Referred for a Job on iTunes or at
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