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How do you answer friends who ask “How’s the job search going?”

If you’re like most job seekers, you get asked this question all the time. It makes you a little (or very) uncomfortable. You brush it off with a quick “It’s going okay” or “I’m hating it!”

What if “how’s the job search going” could actually be a mini job search networking opportunity?

I owe these awesome suggestions to Jason Alba, the inventor of Jibberjobber, an online tool that helps job seekers organize their contacts and tasks. Here’s Jason’s suggestion:

Interpret this question to mean “How can I help you in your job search?”

Presumably, the reason people ask “how is your search going” is that they care (at least a little bit). So give them an easy way to help by asking for one piece of useful information.

What should you ask?

Here’s the smart question he suggests:

“It’s going okay. I’m looking for an introduction to someone who works at one of my target companies. Do you know anyone who works at Company A, Company B, or Company C?”

Wow! Suddenly this casual inquiry has the potential to result in a valuable new connection with someone who might be able to refer you into a job.

The same acquaintance is likely to ask again at some point, a few days or weeks down the line. Next time, try a new question. How about this:

“It’s going fine. Right now I’m looking to do informational interviews with (people in a certain occupation or industry). Do you know anyone like that?”

What question should you not ask?

Don’t ask “Have you heard of any openings?” Good networking focuses on gathering information and introductions, not sad little answers like “No, I’m sorry, I haven’t, but I’ll keep you in mind.” Instead, ask about companies and people.

How often should you use this technique?

Frequently! Make this your standard “how’s the search going” answer. Adopt this easy habit – and greatly improve the results of your job search!