Advice on Getting Advice (Guest Post from Ask A Manager)
The following is a post from Alison Green, also known as “Ask A Manager.” At her popular blog, Alison answers questions on everything from management to preparing for a phone interview. Alison is not only one of my blogging inspirations, she’s become a good friend and I’m so happy she agreed to dispense some wisdom (and a really terrific resource) here.
Etiquette when you’re writing to an advice columnist or otherwise asking for help
As someone who writes a career advice blog, I spend a lot of time giving people help for free.
I’d estimate that maybe 10% of these people ever write back and thank me, or even respond at all. Probably less than that.
Now, I get plenty of personal benefit out of my blog, so I’m not trying to position myself as a martyr. But the fact remains that an awful lot of people are getting my time for free and never acknowledging it in any way. I even answer questions that I don’t publish on my blog, simply because I can’t publish everything but still want to help people when I can, and I’ll sometimes rush to answer something immediately because their situation is time-sensitive. And these people say thank you at about the same low rates (maybe very slightly higher).
When people do write back to say thanks, I love it. Some people also take the time to write later on and let me know how their situation turned out, and that’s the best possible reward. It feels awesome.
But most people? Crickets.
I mentioned this to a friend recently, and she said that if an advice columnist answered her question, she might feel like she was bothering them a second time if she wrote back to say thank you — that they’re Busy And Important, and they wouldn’t care about her little thank-you.
I wonder if anyone ever reaches career heights where they don’t care about hearing thank-you. Maybe they do … although I doubt it.
If someone takes their time to help you, say thank you. Responding with silence is rude. (And it’s also not smart. I will go way out of my way for people who express appreciation, so they should at least make the Machiavellian calculation that it’s in their best interest, if nothing else.)
Free guide to preparing for interviews
Now, on a whole other topic, I have something free for YOU. I’ve just created a guide to preparing well for a job interview. If you’re job-searching, or might be job-searching in the future, I urge you to check it out. You’ll get tons of step-by-step advice on how to prepare, tips on overcoming nerves, questions to practice answering, and a supplemental video version in case you’d rather watch than read. If you’d like a copy, you can sign up here, and I’ll email it directly to you — free:
(Full disclosure: In exchange for giving you the whole guide for free, I’ll put you on my email list so that you’re occasionally notified about other resources I create in the future. But you can unsubscribe at any time, including immediately.)
Many thanks to Erica for letting me offer this to you, and good luck to anyone out there who’s dealing with this very difficult job market! (Just remember to say thank you…)