Don’t Send Yet: 3 Questions to Ask First if You’re A Career Changer Requesting Help

 Access to the right support at the right time can make a big difference to your progress when you’re changing direction in your career. But career communication can be challenging during career transition.

If you want to to get better results from your requests for help with your career change, begin with the three questions below. You can’t control how people respond, but you can improve your career communication.

1. Does my Message Include the Basic Essential Information?

Ping. A new text. An unfamiliar number. No name. Probably spam. You delete it. A week later, you get an email. Did you get my text? So, it wasn’t spam after all. 

You may think you won’t make this kind of “silly mistake” in your career communication. But when you’re juggling a lot of things at once – as is typical while working on your career change –  simple errors are easy. 

Before hitting send, stop. Think of the person at the other end of your message.

What do they need to know? Are you introducing yourself for the first time? Is it some time since you’ve been in touch? If it’s someone you’re already familiar with, what is their preferred methods of communication?

As the sender of the message, you want a response. Ask yourself if you are making it as easy as possible for that to happen.  

2. What is the Best Content for my  Career Communication Message in this Context? 

You’ve heard many times that networking is the key to faster progress in your career change. But many professionals are reluctant to contact people who may be able to help either because they are not sure where to begin, or their efforts up to now are not getting the hoped-for results. 

As already mentioned it’s important to keep in mind is the type of connection you have. This is your best guide on how the shape the contact of your message. Don’t use a generic message.  

Instead, consider what your already know. Think of the people you come into contact with in your everyday life and the different contexts in which you meet and communicate. How might you communicate with a family member or work colleague that you see most days? What about someone you’re contacting for the first time? 

By reflecting on your personal experience of different types of communication in different contexts, you will make better choices about the content of your career communication messages. 

3. Have I Communicated my Request Clearly (and is it reasonable)?

Career changers often feel reluctant to ask for help. Sometimes for “good” reasons. Not wanting to be a nuisance. Being unclear about a direction. Being unsure about what to ask for or how to go about it.

And so on. We each our own list of reasons not to ask for help.  

If this resonates with you, try this. Write down some the things that you think would be helpful to you at this point in your career change. Review your list and identify the requests that are very easy for someone else to respond to. Begin there.

Typically this will be a request for specific information, such as knowing someone who works in a specific industry or profession.  Make your request specific and easy to respond to.

Begin with these types of requests and and see what happens. Not everyone will be able to assist you but you may be surprised by how helpful people often are. Don’t forget to ask if there is anything you can do in return.


Understanding that asking for help with your career change is likely to mean faster progress doesn’t mean that you will find it easy to do. More choice in modes of communication may not make your career communication easier.

But there are simple steps you can take to be more effective in how you communicate when you are in career transition. Make it easier people who are willing to help to do so by checking that your messages include the essential information, paying attention to the context, and beginning with specific requests.

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