At one of my first jobs, I became good friends with a young women who worked across the hall from me.
We were kind of notorious for taking extra long lunch breaks on Fridays, when our co-workers and supervisors were out of the office.
The first time we had lunch together, she over paid on her share of the bill. I tried to give her a few dollars — so that we’d be even — but she insisted that it was no big deal.
“I’m putting it in the pot,” she said.
I must have looked utterly confused because before I could say anything, she responded.
“You know, I’m putting it in “the pot.” I’ve got extra money right now, maybe I won’t next time but you will. It all evens out in the pot.”
I had never heard of “the pot” before but, sure enough, the next time we had lunch, I put in a little extra. And for the next few years, one of us, almost always, over paid, while the other one underpaid.
I love the metaphor of “putting it in the pot” — sharing what you have with those who need it.
And, of course, trusting that, when you need it, you can take it from the pot.
I share this story in my 7 Day Career Upgrade Challenge when I teach people easy ways to use their network in their job search.
A lot of clients and readers tell me that they don’t like to engage in networking because they don’t like to ask for things from people.
I totally get it.
But I try to explain, you’re not asking for something that you don’t deserve— you’re taking it from “the pot.”
Today, I want to talk about how to “add it to the pot.”
Managing your career will involve adding to and taking from the proverbial pot, many times and over a long period of time.
There are lots of important reasons to help other people with their career.
Certainly, it’s a nice thing to do and your friends and colleagues will appreciate your support.
But it’s also good for your career.
Sharing your own experiences and insights can help you better understand your own strengths.
Helping other’s identify their own talents and make important connections can help establish you as a leader and mentor and solidify your own professional network.
In short, nobody loses when friends and colleagues work together to help support one another.
Here are six ways you can help “fill up the pot” and support someone else’s career
#1: Attend networking + professional events
It can often feel that people at networking events are there for themselves. It can feel very transactional.
That perception can make it challenging for attendees to converse with ease.
I always suggest that showing up to these sorts of the events with only the expectation of offering to of service to others creates two winners: the recipient of your experience and you.
And whether you choose to meet some new people by showing up to be of service to help out other attendees or if you
drag along your friend who hates their job encourage any friends and colleagues that could benefit from a larger and more diverse professional network, you’re “filling up the pot,” by providing much need support and insight!
(Hate networking? Check out my post on Networking Tips for People Who Hate Networking)
I think we all have at least one friend who doesn’t love their job. Instead of trying to tip toe around the stress and strain of being in the wrong job, be sure to ask the how they’re doing and what they need.
Creating the space in our personal and professional relationships to talk about our work and careers is key.
Ask how things are going.
Ask how you can helpful.
Ask if they’d like to have coffee or lunch.
Burn out and job stress are real. Ask and start an important conversation.
(If you’re not sure how to get the conversation started, I have a free worksheet on 10 Questions For Big Life Transitions. You can grab your own copy over here.)
#3: Be an accountability buddy
Starting a job search is a lot of work.
Starting a job search when you’re unhappy at your current job can be nearly impossible.
If you have someone in your life that is struggling to get started or to get traction in their job search, they might need some help turning their disappointment and stress into action.
An accounability buddy is someone who holds you to your goals and provides support and encouragement along the way. Offer to help them set goals, read their resume, or check in with them on a weekly basis so that they have some structure to get them started.
And don’t forget to check out The Definitive Guide to Having Your Resume Taken Seriously so that when you review their resume, you know what to look for.
I also offer two, totally free 7 day mini courses that might be helpful for your friends and colleagues:
a) The 7 Day Career Upgrade Challenge is for job seekers. It breaks down the overwhelming task of writing a compelling cover letter and resume into managable tasks, shows you how to network with ease (as in no networking nights required) and where to use your time for maximum impact.
b) The 7 Day Career Clarity Challenge is for folks who think they might be at a crossroads in their career and aren’t sure what to do next. It’s perfect for someone anticipating a career transition or who hasn’t found their right fit yet. Even though career confusion sounds like a total existential crisis, this challenge walks you through one week of actionable strategies to help you clarify your strengths and talents.
#4: Provide feedback
One of the first things that I do with my clients is have them seek feedback from tho people that they admire, respect, and enjoy working with.
This isn’t for their ego — it’s to shift awareness to the strengths you bring to the workplace every day that most people think go unnoticed.
If you notice your friends and colleagues struggling, start by offering some feedback about what you see as their strengths and talents.
You might even provide specific examples and you could work with them to brainstorm jobs or industries where these traits might be of value.
#5: Offer to be a personal reference
Most people submit applications hoping for a job interview.
But you know what happens to folks when they finally land an interview?
Help your friends and colleagues feel confident in their work and in their candidacy by offering to serve as a personal reference, if needed.
#6: Write a LinkedIn recommendation
LinkedIn let’s you write recommendations for people that you know.
If you know folks that are struggling, log into LinkedIn and surprise them with an unsolicited recommendation.
Talk about their strengths, special skills and how you felt working with them. Be as specific as possible!
(If you think your friend’s LinkedIn profile could use some work, make sure you send them 11 Ways to Make LinkedIn work for you.)
I can’t stress enough how important it is offer structure and support to our friends and colleagues when they’re in need of a change. We all know how frustrating it is to be in the wrong position.
This support — or the “filling of the pot,” if you will not only helps your friends and colleagues, but it will help you reach out and confidently use your relationships in your own career in the future.
I’ve said before that the best way to get a new job is to know the hiring manager. It’s pretty rare that we have connections to hiring managers early in our careers. Cultivating a network takes time and it requires giving and taking.
If you know someone who could benefit from some job search and career advice, use the share buttons on the left hand side to spread the word.
Nobody should have to navigate a job search alone!
(Oh and if you want to join the Work Wonders Community so you never have to job search alone, just enter your info below and join us!)