I worked with this woman a year ago to organize a panel at an event. We ended amicably. I applied for a job in her public health unit. I’m contacting her again and I don’t know how to broach this topic without sounding abrupt or rude.
Abrupt or rude … hmmm.
Since you are calling her out of the blue, it may be considered abrupt. But so, what? Every time the phone rings and it isn’t a scheduled call we are waiting for, it is likely to be abrupt. We get them all the time.
As for rudeness, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition of what constitutes rudeness. If you contact her and request that she refer you, she may consider it to be rude. After all, you contacted her out of the blue and asked her to do something for you without rebuilding the relationship.
A better approach may be to contact her as planned with a difference. You may have to reintroduce yourself and the context of where you worked together.
Once that is out of the way you can introduce the subject you have applied for a job at the health unit she works at. Instead of leading by asking for her to provide a reference for you, you would be better to see if she will share some ‘inside’ goodies with you. What’s it like to work there? What is the manager like? Did she know anything about the interview process or the type of questions they were likely to ask?
If you hit it off again, as you did in the past, perhaps she can become an internal cheerleader for you. It’s not quite the same as asking her to refer you but it can actually have more impact. Assuming she has influence with those doing the hiring.
Since you worked on a project together and not necessarily together in a workplace, she can only likely promote your so-called ‘soft skills.’ You will have to back it up with a solid resume.
I would recommend that you mention the project that you worked together on, in your resume, but without mentioning her name. It may work a flag to the person interviewing you in a favorable way.
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Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.