Using Informational Interviews in Your Job Search

When people join social networks, it seems like all they do is try to add lots of people. They never consider there are actual ways to use the social networks to help meet employers and make USEFUL connections.

Informational interviews were very popular many years ago as a way to learn about an employer, industry, career change or something you wanted to learn. They are a way to pick someone’s brain, create a favorable impression, learn, ask for a referral and a host of other things that can facilitate being hired.

When you target an employer, go to the firm’s page on LinkedIn and see whether there is someone you are already connected with who works there or if one of your university alumni works there or has worked there.

Search Twitter for mentions or Twellow for people who list the employer in their profile

On Facebook, try BranchOut as a way to hook up with people.

If the person is not local, see if you can arrange to call or skype them for a few minutes of time.

How should you reach out to them?

Give some thought as to what you might want to learn from them. If you are someone reaching out for advice about a career change, your questions might be pretty obvious– How did you start out? Did you have a plan to get to where you are and what was it? What training did you receive and how did you get it? There a million possible questions you can ask but distill them to the important ones for you.

If you are job hunting, you might want to speak with them about the function they perform, how the department is structured, the nature of the work, who runs the function . . . again, a million possible questions.

See if you can find out about the entry point to the firm. Everyone will send you to HR or a website but that is often useless. See if they can point you to the person who manages or is the Director of the function.

Just get to the point quickly and don’t waste their time.

Remember to follow up and let them know the result of using their advice or referral.

Social networking isn’t about “the scoreboard of connections.” It’s about using your connections and helping your connections.

Informational interviews are a great way of doing that.

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