If you were invited to dinner and asked to “bring something that everyone would like”, what would you do? What would you make? You would want to know things, such as: any dietary restrictions or just what these people like to eat! You would want your friend to give you the specifics so you could make a delicious dinner for all to enjoy.
professional career search

Be Specific

Now what if someone asked you, “can you help my friend who is looking for a job”? Again, you would want specifics. Consider this when you are the one seeking a job – be specific. Being specific applies to many areas, but today I am focusing on two.

What Do You Do?

If you are a job seeker and you are introduced to someone, that person might ask you, “what do you do?” If you respond with, “I am looking for a job”, what is their response? “Good luck with your search!” The issue here is that saying “a job” is too vague for an individual to connect to. However, if you responded with, “I am actively seeking a job as a social media consultant helping businesses succeed in attracting and retaining customers”, then the person you are speaking to might be able to identify an individual who you can network with. This works because being specific jogged information in that person’s mind they might not have thought of if you gave a general answer.

What Are Your Plans?

Conducting an informational interview is another area where it helps to be specific. During the informational interview, you are seeking information from an individual. However, that person will oftentimes ask you what your plans are. The more specific you can be, the more ways they can help you.

Let’s say you are conducting informational interviews to learn more about a new industry. The person you are interviewing might ask you what your plans are within this industry. If you respond with, “I am just gathering information at this point”, that’s fine. They will still provide you with information. If instead you were to respond more specifically with, “I am gathering information at this point, but I know I want to stay in Austin or move to San Francisco”, the individual might be able to share more targeted information. They might have a friend they could connect you with in San Francisco. They might have worked in San Francisco and know the market for this industry in San Francisco. However, without your specific information, they might have left all of this information out of the conversation.

Sometimes we don’t feel like we are ready with our specifics. We are too early on in the process to have any! Before networking events or informational interviews, I challenge you to spend some time thinking about the specifics of your situation. Maybe you don’t have all the details yet, but consider how can you take a vague comment or statement and make it more specific, even by one degree. The benefit may surprised you!