You always hear, “it’s not what you know… but who you know.” While searching for a job, you can go into a million interviews spewing the information your college professors taught you, but if you don’t have connections, it’s going to be a much harder process.
Being connected to an employee in a company can be of great value to you. But not everybody has a successful older brother, or aunt working for the company of their dreams. So how do you go about connecting with someone that you don’t even know exists?
A great tool is the informational interview.
The UMD Career Handbook says, “an informational interview is a conversation you initiate with a professional in a field of interest to you for the purpose of learning more about career possibilities.” This conversation can allow you to learn, and it also allows you to begin a relationship with someone whom might be able to hire you one day.
How might you go about finding this person? It is as easy as a Google search. Find the company you are interested in on LinkedIn, and search through their employees. Find someone with the job title that resembles the one you image for yourself. Next, email them and plainly state you are interested in their career path and would like to learn more. Ask them if they’d be willing to meet with you for coffee at their convenience for an informational interview.
While you’re chatting with them, you might have the opportunity to share bits of information you’re already using from your elevator speech. That way they’ll know who you are and your goals. Once an opportunity arises in their office, you might be on their radar before you even apply. Or, at least, they’ll remember you once you do!
Don’t forget to keep in touch with the person afterward. Connect on LinkedIn. Wish them a Happy New Year. Or congratulate them on the promotion. Check out the UMD Career Handbook for more information on informational interviewing as well as tips on possible questions to ask – because, remember, you’re the one leading!
This technique has been the bulk of my career preparation. I hope it pays off!
P.S. – always offer to pay for their coffee!
Of Possible Interest:
- Informational Interviewing
- Job Search, Interviewing, & Networking – all our blog posts on these topics
- Networking 101 – Informational Interviews
- Ace the Job Search, Interview Like a Pro, Key to Networking – our Pinterest boards filled with articles and resources
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