The 2008 recession resulted in a highly competitive job market. More than ever, getting the audience of a potential employer requires a proactive approach. Statistically, there is a 3-4% return on investment (ROI) for those who merely rely on national job boards to search and apply for jobs. On the other hand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 70% of jobs found were the direct result of networking. One unique and strategic way to network is Informational Interviewing.
What is informational interviewing?
Informational Interviewing is a brief meeting with a professional within an industry or field you are interested in. The purpose of the meeting is not to request a job, but rather to request information to determine if that type of job is aligned with your interests, skills, values, and personality.
Informational interviewing is an excellent way to develop contacts and referrals for your professional network, which will be an important factor to increase your odds of finding and landing a job. In 2008 it was reported that only one out of every 500 resumes resulted in a job offer, while one in every 12 informational interviews resulted in a job offer. The implications are obvious: people tend to hire those whom they are familiar with, know and trust.
What Are the Benefits of Informational Interviewing?
In addition to developing a professional network, informational interviews provides you the ability to increase your self-confidence while researching and determining if a particular career is a good “fit” for you.
Additionally, informational interviews allow you to:
- Obtain job search strategies and inside information from someone already in the field
- Tap into the “hidden job market”
- Improve your communication and presentation skills by relating to a professional in a low-stress situation
- Enhance you candidacy by presenting yourself in a professional manner
How to Request an Informational Interview
Make every attempt to find a director, manager or supervisor of a division/department you are researching. When requesting a meeting, phone first: it is generally harder for someone to deny a verbal request than it is over email. Ask for a 20-30 minute meeting and be sure to respect their time. Remember to:
- Research the company and person that you will be meeting with (review the website, use Google, LexisNexis, press releases and annual reports)
- Dress appropriately and use professional etiquette: even though it is not a job interview, countless people have been referred and hired as a result of the informational interview. Remember; first impressions count!
- Always ask if there is anyone else that you should meet or that they would recommend you contact; and always follow-up with a thank you note afterward.
Questions to Ask
- What do you like most about this field? Least?
- How do you keep current on the industry trends? What should I be doing?
- Do you have any job or internship strategies that will help me in this field?
- How did this type of work interest you? How did you get a foot in the door?
- Why did you decide to work for this company/organization?
- What personal qualities are important to be successful in this field?
- What professional organizations would you recommend that I join?
- Is there any additional training or certification that would help me succeed in this field.
For more information on information interviewing, contact the Career Development Center.
Donnell Turner, GCDF
Director, Career Development Center