One of the greatest disappointments you may discover during your job search is that old friends don’t call you back.
When I began my job search back in 1991 and in the years since, I have often struggled to explain this syndrome to my many friends. My purpose is not to make excuses for anyone, but rather to explain the situation in a way that will lead us to be more forgiving. And, if we are lucky, perhaps to discover ways that in the end will cause us to benefit from these long established relationships.
The syndrome you are experiencing I call “the death in the family thing.” People tend not to call or even to write because they are afraid that they will say or do the wrong thing. Hard to believe that they feel this way when not calling to lend at least moral support is to my thinking a lot worse.
You may also find yourself reluctant to call old friends. I suppose you may be concerned that they will think you are calling them for sympathy.
Understand that one of the core values of The FENG is that it is okay to ask others for help. After all, unlike most networking groups, you can be an active and participating member of our august body even after you are working again. You can have folks up for coffee, take them to lunch, help them rewrite their resumes, and who knows what else.
The conundrum is how enlist the help of your old friends in your search. My suggestion is to do it through a small degree of indirection.
First you have to create an inner circle of new friends (hopefully from within our august body).
If you are actively networking within The FENG and have made a few new friends who are a lot like you, please accept one ATTABOY or ATTAGIRL from “The Chairman.”
The approach from this point on is analogous to taking in each other’s laundry. You introduce your new friends to your old friends for networking purposes and they introduce you to their old friends for networking purposes.
Now, here is the sneaky part (actually, the whole thing is the sneaky part), you call your old friends solely for the purpose of either introducing your new friends or finding out if they made a good impression. Since you are not calling about you, the conversation is filled with a lot less tension. After all, as long as they took the time to meet your new friend, their obligation is completed. They don’t absolutely have to do something for someone they don’t really know.
In the course of your conversation you will find that your old friend will turn the conversation around to you and how you are doing. You see he/she just had to hear your voice and be sure that you weren’t going to fall apart on them. Once they know you are actually okay there is less tension in the situation. They can relax a little and may even come up with a way to help.
The best rule in life is never to assume. Don’t make up reasons in your own mind why others haven’t called you back. When you speak to them, you will know. And, it may not be as bad as you imagined.
They may still actually care about you and want to be your friend.