Finding & engaging with people who can help you achieve your career goals

No matter how daunting or easy you feel it will be to achieve your career goals, involving the right people will make your journey quicker and easier.

But who are the right people, and how can they help?

Step 1

Think about where you are now, and where you would like to be in the near future. 

Consider, what would make it easier for you to get there. There are potentially lots of things you could list, for example –

  • More confidence
  • Knowing how to talk about/manage a specific disability in a particular job role
  • Improved application making and interview skills
  • Less competition for jobs
  • Knowing where to find opportunities
  • Helping you stayed motivated when job searching gets difficult

Step 2

Make a list of the types of people (or organisations if that’s easier) that could help you with each of the above, even if you don’t know individual people at this stage.

Example 1

If you want to be better informed about where to find opportunities or wanted to improve the quality of your applications, this could include –

Mentor A career mentor may potentially discuss different ways of getting into a particular job that have worked for them or other people. They may also recommend or introduce you to people in the industry to talk about opportunities that you would otherwise have never been able to meet.

Your university may have a mentoring scheme that you can take advantage of.

People who recruit for the job you want This includes recruiters, managers, supervisors and so on. Through approaching people directly you can find out more about when and how they recruit, how to make a quality application targeted to their specific needs, and, depending on circumstances, potentially ‘job the queue’ if they feel you would fit in well at the organisation.

Your university will run events where employers come onto campus to speak to students – or, if for example, if you find speaking to new people difficult to do in person, you can always get their email address and correspond this way.

People who do the job you want While these people can’t make recruitment decisions, you can still gain insight and advice into where to find opportunities and how to make your application stand out.

Example 2 –

You’re concerned about how your disability may be perceived or affect your ability to do a particular job

People who are experts or advocates This includes people from national organisations and charities who have experience of supporting people who face the same possible challenges as you – or have experienced them personally and can advise you from first-hand experience. Your university careers service should also be able to offer advise on this topic.

Example 3 –

You anticipate that the roles you are applying for are very competitive, and you may get some rejections

People who can offer emotional support Such as friends or family who are happy to listen while you share frustrations or disappointments

People who can help you to learn from rejection Such asking for feedback from an interview you didn’t get, or speaking to a mentor for their advice on an unsuccessful interview.

Step 3

Review your list of types of people, and identify people you already know or think about where you could find people to approach – for example, LinkedIn, Twitter, alumni directories, national organisations, charities and so on.

You can also make a list of people you know that, while they can’t help you directly, may know and could introduce you to other people that can help.

Often people will have profile headlines or job titles that indicate expertise and passion.

Step 4

Reach out to people to ask for their assistance. For people you already know, this may be more informal.

For people you don’t know yet, there is value in researching a bit about them beforehand and personalising your approach to them.

For example, for help with a particular disability, you may find (reputable) people on LinkedIn who are expert in this area and advocate passionately –

Dear Nancy,

I really enjoy reading your posts about neurodiversity, and having both Dyspraxia and ADHD I took a lot from your recent post about the strengths associated neurodiversity in the workplace.

I’m currently looking to start a career in ‘A’, and given your expertise wanted to ask for 15 minutes of your time to ask more about ‘B’

I’m trying to learn more about ‘C’, and your insights would be very helpful .

Many thanks for your time,

You can vary what you right according to why you are reaching out to people, and there is great value in making your messages as specific as possible to both the person – so they feel genuinely valued and therefore more likely to respond positively – and the topic of conversation.

A great post I read recently summarised in an amusing way about if it’s okay to reach out to somebody you don’t know –

Does it make sense to contact this person? Like actual sense? Like with logic and thought and everything? Will I use their correct name? – Yes

Literally any other reason – No.

Step 5

Some people will respond to you, while others may not. Don’t take it personally if people don’t, it’s often because people are simply very busy.

Once you have spoken to people in any capacity, it’s worth sending follow up ‘thank you’ messages that show your appreciation for their time and expertise. You may also want to consider sending a follow up message 2-3 weeks later to summarise how you’ve applied what you talked about in the conversation.

While doing this helps to keep a good working relationship, it’s also just a decent human thing to do.

Remember – relationships work both ways. If you can help them in any way, consider doing so – even if all you can do is send them a personalised thank you that will make them feel happy.

Final thoughts

If you would like help or have any questions about any of this, please just write in the comments below and we’d love to help.


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