What do you really want?

Running a website for college students and alumni who want to find jobs is great.  I get to meet people everyday who are passionate and driven.  They are willing to do whatever it takes.  That is why we take such pleasure in emailing members who sign up.

Occasionally we get emails from candidates directly asking for help in their job search.

This is where it gets interesting.

Some ask targeted questions.  They've done the research and now they're looking for introductions, specific advise or something straightforward. These are the candidates we stumble over ourselves to help out.  They just need a slight tweak in the right direction or deserve a personal introduction to a company.

The ones that waste our time and theirs ask general, boring questions that show no drive.  "What should I do?" or "How can you help me?".

Seriously?  Did you learn nothing in school?

If you get the chance to meet someone who could help you out in your job search, PLEASE take the time to think about what you really want out of the interaction.

Do you want them to recommend you to others?  If so, show them some drive, some follow through, some interest and most importantly, your accomplishments.  Ask specifically for names, numbers and how to approach their contacts.  Be direct.

Do you want someone to hand you a job?  If so, cancel the meeting.  You're transparency will show right through and you'll look worse than if you'd never asked that person for coffee.