How to ask for a job (with tips and points to consider)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 1 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are ways to ask for a job that doesn't always involve a repetitive process of submitting application forms and CVs and then waiting for an invitation to an interview. You can accelerate this procedure by simply approaching potential employers and asking for a job. Understanding where and when to ask can help you to secure the job you're seeking. In this article, we discuss the different ways to ask for a job and suggest the best time and place to approach a potential employer and the right person to approach.

How to ask for a job

When considering how to ask for a job, there are a few fundamental principles to observe. It's important to be professional and observe standard business etiquette. Whether you're looking for a senior or entry-level job or you're meeting a potential employer or an independent recruiter, dress professionally. First impressions are lasting. Be polite to everyone you meet in a company you're interested in because they're likely to remember how you treated them if you join the company.

It's not always necessary to wait for a vacancy to appear in the job listings before making enquiries. There are many ways to ask about job vacancies, including in an email, letter, phone call or in person. Whichever approach you choose, phrase your enquiry politely and diplomatically, rather than 'Can you give me a job?' you might say: 'I was wondering if there are any vacancies in your company at the moment? I admire how your company is working to meet its carbon-neutral target, and I'd like to work with a team like yours.'

1. Send an email

An email is as much a sales pitch as an enquiry. The objective is to convince the employer without going into too much detail that you're worth hiring. Introduce yourself, express your interest in working for the company and briefly mention your work experience. Enquire about any vacancies and suggest that your skills may benefit the company.

2. Write a letter

A letter is more formal than an email. The content may be similar to that of an email, but it provides more detail. It includes your CV and copies of any education or qualification certificates. You can also include brief details of any work successes or achievements in the letter.

Related: How to write a letter of interest (With an example)

3. Make a phone call

Try to find out the name of the appropriate person to speak to and then phone and ask for them by name. Deliver what's known as 'the 30-second pitch.' This means introducing yourself, expressing your interest in the company, briefly mentioning your work experience and hinting that your skills may be a valuable asset to the team if there are any job vacancies.

4. Ask in person

Find out in advance the name of the appropriate person to speak to, so when you approach the receptionist or enquiries desk, you can ask for the person by name. When you meet the person, begin with your 30-second pitch. You may receive an invitation to go into more detail, so if you reach the point of asking for a job, phrase the question so that you sound resourceful and enthusiastic rather than desperate.

When and where to ask for a job

Apart from letters, emails, phone calls or arriving at a company hoping to see the right person, there are other times and places where you can ask for a job. When and where to ask is as important as how. Timing is crucial, as is the place, so pick your moment carefully. It's not a good idea to walk up to a potential employer while they're having lunch in a restaurant and ask for a job. Consider an appropriate setting where the employer is already in a business frame of mind:

Trade shows and networking events

Trade shows and networking events are the kinds of places that both employers and job seekers attend. Many of those employers are scouting for new talent. This can be an ideal time and place to deliver your 30-second pitch. If you have a personal business card, now is the time to hand it over and ask if you can schedule a meeting at a convenient time during or after the event.

Related: Guide: How to succeed at a hiring event or open interview

After a networking event or trade show:

Once you've made the initial contact, you can follow it up with an email enquiry or a phone call. If your initial conversation was quite casual, you can ask if there are any job vacancies. But if your initial conversation was more formal, it's better to ask if you can schedule an interview.

Related: How to write a follow-up email (with examples)

If the company is hiring

If the company is posting vacancies in job listings, simply contact the person stated in the posting. If someone you know mentions that there's a vacancy in his company, ask for the name of the right person to speak to about it. Otherwise, you can try to make direct contact with the person involved in the hiring process.

After an interview

If you believe that you made a good impression in your interview, you can say that you're definitely interested in the role. Ask if there's anything else they require that might result in a job offer. It's rare to be awarded a job straight away, but at least they know you're keen.

Related: Interviewing techniques and tips to make a great impression

Who to ask for a job

It's important to speak to the right person. Conduct some online research into the company you're interested in to establish who the appropriate person is to approach. Depending on the seniority of the job you're looking for, it may be someone in the human resources office, a department manager or a company director. If you know someone whose company has a vacancy, ask for information about the job or an introduction to an appropriate person. This is more effective than asking if they can recommend you to their boss to help you get the job.

If you have a network of contacts in your industry, it's a good idea to let them know that you're looking for job opportunities. Your contacts may have their own network of contacts that you perhaps don't know and this widens your net. There may not be any vacancies right now, but they can bear you in mind and inform you if they hear that a job is available of even if a vacancy is imminent.

Points to consider

There are a few general points to consider when asking for a job:

Ask for general advice

In a meeting or informal interview during or immediately after a networking event, ask for advice about the best way to begin the process of securing the job you want. This is better than simply asking them to give you a job. It's not only more professional, but it also shows that you want to proceed professionally.

Ask for information

Ask about the role itself. Ask how the job fits into the overall business. This shows that you're interested in what the job entails and its function within the company rather than just getting the job.

Build relationships

Most professional people have a wide network of business contacts. Make a concerted effort to build relationships with people within your chosen industry. This can sometimes result in a job offer before you've even asked for it.

Make an impression

Explore ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. If there are many applicants for a highly contested job, ensure that you're the one the recruiter remembers. Try a different approach in your initial introduction or include an online portfolio of your work with your letter of enquiry.

Approach the right people

It's not a good idea to approach employees at the same role level as you. Firstly, they're unlikely to be able to offer you a job. Secondly, they may be seeking a promotion for themselves. If they consider you a threat to their own ambitions, they may try to undermine your efforts to secure a job. Approach people at a more senior level.

Social media can be dangerous

While professional network sites are a good source of information for both recruiters and job seekers, your personal social media accounts are not the ideal place to publicise your job search. Firstly, only your friends might see the post. Secondly, if you make the post public, the whole world can see it, even your current employer who may not have known that you plan to leave.

Think positive

Don't be despondent if you don't secure the job you're aiming for right away. The recruiter may recommend you for a different role within the company or retain your details in the event that a similar job vacancy arises. If you've approached a recruiting agency, they may refer you to another company in the same or a similar industry.

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