Neal Frankle
Neal Frankle
Help Your Clients Find a Job

Even when they have an ugly résumé.

November 19, 2009
by Neal Frankle, CFP

You can add tremendous value to your clients by simply helping them network if they currently find themselves looking for work.

About five years ago, my wife decided to re-enter the workforce.

Besides the obvious reasons, I think she probably had enough of my tight-wad ways.

She wanted to have more control over her finances without dealing with my "energy." If you are a regular reader, you know I had to do a lot of work to loosen up the purse strings and I guess she just wanted to speed the process.

She ended up finding a job she loves working with kids with autism. She makes a huge difference in the lives of a lot of great kids and families. She also makes a real difference in our financial life so it's a win-win all the way.

Anyway, when she first started thinking about re-entering the workforce, she felt a bit intimidated. She finally worked up the courage to send out a few résumés but promptly got kicked in the teeth. Lovely!

She sent out a ton of résumés but came up empty-handed every time. She was becoming increasingly disappointed and was just about to give up when she landed her job.


At the end of the day, she found her dream job by networking (see related story).

I'm going to describe a process your clients can use to network their way into their next job even if they have an ugly résumé.

This is a process that anyone can use. They will have to do a little work. Also, it might take a few months to find work they love doing. But I believe if they follow these steps they'll be miles ahead of all the other job seekers — even if they have more experience and a prettier résumé than they do. (I'm going to assume that they have the minimum training or education required for the job but they don't have the experience or connections.)

If your clients aren't looking for work, should they care about this?

Yes. Here's why.

Life changes. Relationships change. They never know when they might need to work and it's really nice to have this foundation in place. They'll feel empowered by taking this action now.

Let's get to work:

  1. Stop wasting time sending out résumés or replying to ads.

    I don't know about you, but other than landing my first job as a curb painter at age 15 and selling office supplies at 17, I never found work by responding to ads in the paper. I also don't know anyone who ever got a job they love that way. It's a waste of time and it's discouraging. Who needs it?

  2. Make a broad list of ideas they like and hate.

    In my wife's case, she knew she wanted to work with people and she didn't want to be in sales. So it was easy for her to filter ideas in and out as they came up.

    What kinds of things would they love to do? What do they hate so much that they'd rather stick their head in an oven than do? Make a list. Be broad and open minded. What kind of things do they see themselves doing? What kind of people would they like to work with? What kind of environment would they enjoy working in? Ask them to write it down. Don't just keep these thoughts inside their head.

    If they know exactly what they want to do, go for it. But if they really aren't 100 percent sure, try to think in broad terms.

  3. Contact people who have jobs doing things they might enjoy doing.

    They should think about people they know, like and respect. What do they do professionally? Could they see themselves in those jobs or environments? They should arrange to meet with those people for 45 minutes. Tell them they don't expect them to offer they a job. Explain that they would like some guidance and that they value their ideas. Here's a script they might consider:

    "Liane, I feel kind of nervous calling but I need to ask a favor. I'm trying to re-enter the workforce and I'm looking for ideas. I don't want you to offer me a job, but I would really appreciate the chance to just bounce off some ideas and to get your guidance. Can you meet me for a cup of tea next Tuesday at 5 pm?"

    Now, there is one very important caveat we need to talk about.

    Don't manipulate anyone. Your clients are on a fact-finding mission — that's it. They should really be trying to meet with people in order to learn — not get a job offer. That comes later. The idea is that they'll meet with lots of people and sooner or later, they'll come across the right person at the right time and a job offer will appear.

    When they meet, ask your clients to ask the following questions:

    1. What do they like most about their work?
    2. What don't they like about it?
    3. How do they see the future of their industry?
    4. What is the most important skill to have to succeed in this job?
    5. What does the industry need? What problem are people in that profession trying to overcome?
    6. If they were me, and they were trying to get into this professional, what would be the smartest thing they would do? Who would they want to talk to? How would they get to them?
    7. Who else should they talk to in order to learn more?

    Don't be afraid to bring this list of questions. Your client should tell them they are taking this search very seriously and want to make sure they don't forget to ask anything important. If they are nervous, tell their friend that too.

  4. Send them a thank you note.

    Ask your clients to send them a written thank you note — not an e-mail. Your clients should tell them how much they appreciate their contact's time and insights. Tell them they learned a great deal and they'll keep them updated and your clients should do so. This way, they have a vested interest in your clients' success. Here's a sample:


    I can't tell you how much I appreciate the time you took last Tuesday to explain more about the photography business. I was nervous at first but you did a wonderful job of explaining the way things work and now I really feel excited about my search.

    As you suggested, I'm going to call Bob McCamera next week and try to learn more. With your permission, I'll keep you posted on my progress.

    Thanks again.

  5. Contact the leads they get.

    This is really the most important part of the process. In fact, if your clients aren't willing to call new people, they might as well not even start this process.

    It's rare that a friend will be able to offer work but their friend may lead them to other people who can. Your clients should go through this interview process with the leads they receive. They'll have to contact people they don't know and be open to new ideas and if they are, they have a high chance of success.

    When your clients are interviewed by these new people, they should tell them that their mutual friend suggested they contact them. Your clients should explain that they are interested in learning their thoughts on how they can be successful in the field they are investigating.

    Here's a script to use when they first call this new person:

    Hi. This is Jim Jobseeker. I was referred by Liane Lotsahelp. Is this Bob McCamera?

    Hi Bob. I'm not trying to sell you anything and I hope I've called at a good time. I'm a good friend of Liane and she mentioned you may be a great person to meet. I'm trying to get back into the photography business and am just trying to learn more about it. She told me you are a great resource. Would you consider letting me buy you a cup of coffee next week and spend 25 minutes learning more about the industry? (If so … arrange a time.)

    Ask them the same questions they asked their friend in step 2. Make sure to ask all the questions. The most important questions they can ask are — what are the next best steps they should take and who else should they talk to. Their goal is to get closer and closer to people who ultimate make hiring decisions or hear about jobs that are opening up.

    Your clients should not be pushy, desperate, manipulate or have a hidden agenda. Most important, your clients should not go in with the mindset that Bob might offer work.

  6. Follow up.

    Every few weeks, your client must send an e-mail to each of the contacts with an update. Tell them who they've spoken with and what they learned. Invite them to offer suggestions.

    Ultimately, the goal is to have two interviews a day. According industry reports, if your clients have two interviews a day for 60 days, they'll land a job. Someone is going to hear about something that's right up their alley as long as they meet lots of people and tell them what their alley is.

    "All this is great," your clients might be saying, "but what do I do if all my friends work in the meat-packing plant — and I want to work for PETA."

    This is actually an easy fix. If your clients don't have any direct contacts in the industry they are targeting, simply have them call local firms and speak to the manager. Give them the same pitch they gave new contacts I outlined above. Believe it or not, most will only be too happy to meet your clients. Why? Because most people are generally interested in helping others.


I've often taken calls from people who are interested in a career in financial planning. I don't have a job to offer them but I do have a few years experience to share.

If your clients interview enough people, ask enough questions, learn enough about the industry and go in with an open mind, this will work.

Have you ever been asked by clients to help them find work? How did you handle it?

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Neal Frankle, CFP, is the author of Why Smart People Lose a Fortune: 5 Steps to Restoring Your Wealth and Sanity.

The material in this article is general information and not meant to provide specific investment, tax or legal advice. Investing in the stock market involves risk.