Picture this: You are in kindergarten. The class is going on a walk, away from the classroom, and your teacher assigns each student a “buddy,” so no one gets lost.
Imagine on your first day in third grade, your teacher pairs you with a current student who helps you learn the other students’ names, introduces you to her friends, and answers your questions about the school.
It’s called the Buddy System, and it’s a thing that happens at a lot of schools.
It happens at work, too.
When I took a reporting job at a large regional newspaper, I was assigned a “professional partner” to help me acclimate to the newsroom and the general routine. It was a comfortable transition since I felt I had an ally there to help me navigate the protocols and internal politics (and point me to the supplies and coffee).
Interestingly, most people don’t think of using it as part of a job search.
Maybe they’re embarrassed.
Maybe they feel competitive.
But you might be surprised to learn that it can be very effective.
A client recently told me that even though she is well connected within her industry, she still sought out a job-search partner—an industry colleague in a different role who is also looking.
They talk regularly. She enjoys getting a different “read” on situations, sharing ideas about next steps, and sharing networking suggestions.
A friend of mine, Erick, employed this strategy after earning his chemical engineering degree. He teamed up with not one, but several other graduates in allied engineering fields so they could support and help each other with their job searches. It was so successful that other students came to him for help setting up their own search-buddy groups.
Think about it:
Connecting with another person who’s looking and checking in regularly for feedback and encouragement can help you feel more optimistic and expand your range of opportunities.
And: Sometimes when we sit by ourselves and work on a problem, we can get myopic.
We start living in our own heads, measuring each circumstance against our own point of view and unique experiences. I know I tend to spin all kinds of stories about why things are happening. I’m easily deflated when left to my own devices. But when I talk to colleagues in the industry or friends who also are in business, I get a much wider perspective and feel much less alone. (My two cats can do only so much.)
I learn about educational opportunities; find out about people I should meet; and get some valuable feedback on projects.
Here are the chief benefits of teaming up in your job search:
Synergy: When you’re looking for a job, it’s another job in itself. You and your buddy could agree to share contacts. We tend to have slightly different networks. Think how powerful it is for you to realize you know someone at your buddy’s target company (and vice versa) and can make that introduction.
When you know each other’s goals, you also can share job postings you see and hear about from your networks, increasing your options.
Feedback: You can review each other’s resumes and other materials and help each other practice interviewing. Sometimes you get great tips from hearing how someone else answers questions—in addition to building your confidence.
You can give each other strategy feedback, too, and solidify your plan by talking it over.
Accountability: Tell each other about the networking you are doing; the people you want to email or message; the cold contacts you are working up your nerve to contact; that cover letter you want to write. Check back with each other to make sure you have completed these activities.
Reciprocal Value: How many times have you felt reticent to reach out to a contact because you feel you have nothing to offer in return? Well, you and your buddy are helping each other, so you have that covered!
Emotional Support: You are both going through the same things. You can admit your fears and talk them through with your buddy, and you can encourage each other to keep going.
So, reach into your network and see who else might be looking for work. Identify someone who isn’t in the same role, so you aren’t competing for the same jobs.
Decide right away that you will support each other, even after one of you lands a role.
And lastly, the best reason for working with a buddy (or a few of them) in your job search is because people who help each other form strong, lasting bonds. There’s research behind this. Check out Adam Grant’s book Give and Take. It talks about the power of helping others.
Remember that next time you’re feeling discouraged, you don’t have to go it alone.
Find a friend who’s also in a search and ask them if you can chat. You might be surprised at the doors that open for both of you.
Need help figuring out where to find your Search Buddy? Shoot me an email and I can I throw out some ideas! Ruth@ConfidentCareerSearch.com.
You can also schedule time with me! Let’s chat about your job search and see what might help Use this link.