A Better Way to Get Hired: Get That Informational Interview

When it comes to an internship or job search, there is a parallel between marketing a product and marketing yourself.

Resumes Sent = Junk Mail

I am always dismayed when people tell me they focus on their resume as a means to get hired. That tactic is similar to spam or direct mail… which has a success rate of 0-3%.

I think we assume that companies with jobs to be filled, are “pre-qualified leads” and I just don’t buy it. Would you rather purchase a car because several friends recommended it for all the reasons that are important to you or because you received a flyer in the mail about it? Similarly for job seekers, a large percentage of interviews result from a referral by someone already at the company.

When you hear people suggest you should make contact with people inside a company, the question inevitably is “HOW?”

How do you meet anyone?

In this new world we live in, being connected and meeting new people (online and in person) is critical to your professional survival. Really, it is. Back to my question, how do you meet people inside a company you think you would like to work for?

  • You could pick up the phone and just call. Cold calls are scary and require thick skin, but you know, sometimes they work.
  • You could ask everyone you know if they know someone who works in that target company.
  • You could use LinkedIn to see if you have any contacts or to at least gather some names.
  • You could Google the company and see who’s been mentioned lately and reach out and congratulate them.
  • You could try and find them on Twitter

You could do a lot of things.

Your next question is:

“Well, what do I talk to them about?”

Though you may be in job search, you are primarily in “information gathering” mode. You need to learn about what the company or department goals are. You want to learn about the culture, you want to know what their problems or concerns are so that you can be a solution.

When you are requesting such a meeting (with companies who are not currently hiring) your request may sound something like:

  • “I’ve recently worked on a project creating infographics and would like to talk with you about how your company is using them and where you see this concept heading in the future.”
  • “I have been following what your company is doing and am really interested in how you are making strides to better inform and communicate with your customers. Would you have time to meet with me?”
  • “I’m completing my degree in Design in the Spring and would really love to learn more about the clients you serve and the services they are requesting.”

All of these requests work best if you could actually drop a name as you introduce yourself.
“I was talking with Spongebob yesterday about my design career and he suggested your name as someone who could offer really valuable advice because of your experience.”

Get Ahead of the Curve

The key to your success is identifying companies in advance of their advertising a position. Once they’ve announced a job, they’ll be overwhelmed with the process and might be less likely to agree to an informational meeting, though it never hurts to try.

Now go back and create a list of 40 or so companies you believe would have a need for the kind of work you do. Begin doing some preliminary research and see who you can find who works there.




About the Author:  Hannah Morgan brings over 10 years of experience helping displaced workers search for their next opportunity, and has developed and delivered workshops as well as managed the implementation of Career Navigator, a five-day intensive boot camp for professional level job seekers.

In addition to her blog, Career Sherpa, Hannah is honored to be designated as Job Search Navigator on Job-Hunt.org as well as a featured blogger on HerRochester. She also contributes to Career Collective, a community of expert career coaches and resume writing professionals who write monthly on job search topics, and guest blogs for Brand-Yourself.com on social media trends and tools. Follow Hannah on Twitter!




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