Job Search January Challenge #18
We’ve discussed the value of networking in your job search. In addition to meeting people and asking them if they have any job information, there is another step you can take. You can request an informational interview.
Never ask for a job.
The purpose of an informational interview is to learn more about your industry or the organization where your contact works, as well as to increase your connections and visibility. You might learn which skills are most important to employers and gain a greater understanding of the job market.
Who do you meet and how?
When you meet a contact socially or at a network event, usually the conversation is brief and light. When you exchange business cards, ask if you might call or email in order to set up an informational interview. It is that easy!
In addition to people you meet through networking, you have also targeted your job search, following industry trends and players. Write an email or letter to people in your industry you’d like to meet requesting an interview. Request 20 minutes of their time at their convenience.
Make the most of the connection.
Ask good questions. What do you really need to know? Often, informational questions include: How did you get started in this field? What do you love about it? What challenges do you or your industry face right now? What recommendations would you make to someone who is interested in working in this field?
Be courteous and prepared.
Usually an informational meeting is set at your contact’s place of business. Dress and act professionally, be on time, be prepared to set the agenda and lead the meeting, have questions ready, and bring a notepad to take notes.
Do your homework beforehand, so that you do not ask questions to which you could find answers on the company website. Your contact is doing you a favor, so make efficient use of your time, be gracious, don’t overstay, and thank them. Then, for good measure, send a thank you note too.
As always, ask if there is any way you can reciprocate. Then, check in every so often, perhaps monthly, to maintain the relationship, offer any services they might appreciate, discuss recent industry developments, and thank them again for having met with you.
Challenge #18: Set Up Informational Interviews
Try to set up at least two interviews per week. Remember, since you’re not asking for work, the stakes are lower. Behave professionally and act as if it is a job interview without the pressure! Take the opportunity to build relationships, gain knowledge, and improve your interview skills all in one.