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Before Asking for Favors, Puh-Lease Help Yourself

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help yourself before you ask for a favor

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We’ve all been asked for favors. Introductions, critiques, recommendations… we’ve all been there (and been the one asking for the favor).

But what if you get asked for a favor – and then realize the person asking hasn’t done the first bit of work themselves?

A recent grad wants to know some sneaky tricks about getting a job… and it turns out he doesn’t have an up-to-date resume. A new blogger who’s eager to get more traffic… but still hasn’t written her about page. A freelancer who wants new business… but hasn’t created a pricing list.

“I’m working on it,” they say.

Do you know what I say? “Good luck with that.”

Here’s the thing: if you don’t even have the basics figured out, how could you possibly be prepared for that interview/new blog reader/client? Because not only will you never hear from them again, they also won’t send any new interviews/readers/clients your way. Meaning you’re shit out of luck. And have just made a really bad impression, too.

It’s shocking how many people fall into this trap. Take Twitter for example. Smart, funny, interesting people constantly want to network using Twitter but haven’t written a bio yet. “I’m getting to it,” they say. Or, “I don’t know what to write!”

But do you know what I think it is? Laziness. And a really crappy expectation that people are just always going to want to help you out, even if you don’t help yourself first.

And also? Fear. Too many of us worry about being perfect so we never get started. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do your best – not by a long shot – but there is something wrong never putting yourself out there because of it.

How long does it take to write a Twitter bio so people actually know who you are? You can perfect it later, but for now it’s better for people to have some semblance of an idea of who you are than a blank bio that makes you look like an amateur.

No time to spruce up your resume before you start networking your little face off? Shell out $100 for a resume writer. Not only will they do a better job than you, but then it will be done and you can network to your heart’s content without worrying about how many times you’ll have to say, “I’m working on it.”

Do you have any idea what kind of impression you give when a new client asks for details about your pricing structure and you don’t have anything prepared? Not only do you look unprofessional, but it also makes the other guy easier to hire – which means you probably won’t land the client.

If you don’t have an hour to devote to being prepared, you’re either not that invested or spending too much time watching episodes of Downton Abbey.

Listen, we’ve all been there. I didn’t put my service on my site for six months into my freelance career (but once I forced myself to sit down and actually do it, I suddenly started getting more offers).

But just because we’ve all been there doesn’t make it okay. The people who become successful do so because they take the time to get shit done. So today (not tomorrow) get a cup of coffee, sit down and for one hour work on that one really basic thing you’ve been meaning to do.

Not only will you smash it out in way less time than you thought it would take, but you’ll feel so much better afterward.

Marian Schembari is a blogger, traveler and all-around social media thug. She’s based in Auckland, New Zealand, hails from Connecticut and blogs at marianlibrarian.com.

By the way, Brazen Careerist is now on Pinterest! Would love to connect there with all you professional go-getters.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • Carin Siegfried

    So much! I often ask the person where they are/what they’ve done and when the answer is “not much,” I give them a couple of homework assignments and tell them to get back to me when they’re done. Often I never hear back, which is sad but then I don’t do a lot of extra work for a lazy person. And if they come back with the done homework, I’m happy to help! Set up a barrier and it’s amazing how many people won’t bother, even if it’s very low.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Love this idea! A barrier to entry for useless people trying to mooch of your goodwill…. Flippin’ genius.

  • Yep_patricia

    E + R +O The Formula for Personal Responsability ….And totaly Agree.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2BNORJKLNKSMZQC53ZCLLATT5Q Mary

    I totally agree with what you said…if people know you have a talent they’ll be quick to exploit you for it before they even try it for themselves. It’s silly, but I think that society, as a whole, has come to believe that things are just that easy. Blogging, especially for profit, is a job in itself. It’s easier than most think too…

    Motorcycle Injury Attorney

  • Anonymous

    I’m lazy. I can’t say I’m not. But in order to be productive, now is the answer, not next week, not tomorrow, not even later. It’s NOW!

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