How to Ask a Relative for a Job

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In today's competitive marketplace, landing a job is all about who you know. In an interview with NPR, Career Horizons president Matt Youngquist revealed that at least 70% of jobs are not published, as the vast majority of employers prefer to hire someone they already know, even if that person is just an acquaintance. For some employment seekers, networking can mean turning the relatives you share the Thanksgiving dinner table with into professional contacts. Here are some steps you can take to mix family and business without ruining your relationship or your career.

Normal Rules Still Apply

Despite the fact that your connection is also your family member, the normal rules of networking still apply. You’re approaching your relative in a very different setting from the one you’re used to encountering them in, reminds lawyer and USA Today’s “Ask An Expert” columnist Steve Strauss. Go through all the steps you’d normally go through if you were contacting someone you didn’t know. Be polite and professional. If your relative invites you in for a meeting or interview, dress and behave as you would at any workplace. Remember, you still need to give them good reasons to hire you, even though you already know them.

Rid Yourself of Expectations

Frequently, people who approach their relatives for jobs or who already work with their family members have unfair expectations of those relatives. And for this very reason, employers are concerned about letting employees hire family members, says Allison Green, the founder of the popular Ask a Manager blog. Do yourself and your relative a favor and abolish any expectations that you may have of them, aside from the expectation that they’ll reply to your email or telephone call. Let them know you do not expect them to help you just because of your pre-existing relationship. This will both clear the air and make the exchange more comfortable for the both of you.

Make Sure You're Qualified

Before you approach your relative, make sure you’re really qualified for the job, says marketing professional and contributor Ashley Faus. Asking someone to fast-track your resume for a job you’re not a great fit for can not only result in some uncomfortable questions about their professional judgment, but it could also result in both you and the relative having to deal with the fallout that will come from you getting a job you really shouldn’t have. If you want your relative to help you move your resume to the top of the pile, says Ashley, give them some solid reasons for doing so first.

Be Honest, Straightforward and Clear

Don’t shy away from (politely) telling your relative exactly what you’re hoping to gain by contacting them and why you turned to them for help. There’s no need to come up with an exaggerated story or some sort of extra incentive to get them to help you, counsels professor of psychology Susan Krauss Whitbourne. By being clear and straightforward, you’ll be more likely to get the help you really need from your relative. And by opening up the door of honesty, you’ll also make it possible for your relative to let you know that they can’t help you without being overly concerned that the relationship will be ruined.