Does your job search strategy consist of you hitting the “apply” button over and over again? Are you feeling stressed and frustrated because it isn’t yielding many phone calls for interviews? Take charge of your job search and spend less time on job boards and more time discovering the hidden job market.
My favourite way to get new jobs and job leads is through the often overlooked informational interview. The informational interview is when you reach out to someone in an industry, company or role that you are interested in to find out a little bit more about what it takes to get hired, be successful and grow your career there.
There are many benefits to the informational interview beyond the obvious job offer you hope for. It grows your network which means you have more people with eyes and ears to the ground on potential job opportunities. It gives you advice on what you need to do to make yourself a more attractive candidate in order for you to become more marketable the next time an opportunity does arise. It also allows you to figure out if this is an industry, company, and job that you is worth the investment of your time and resources.
To begin the process of the informational interview you must do some research. From your 5-10 companies that you want to work with, narrow it down to 1-3. Using LinkedIn find people who work there, either in the role you desire or in a role that could potentially hire you. Send them a quick note expressing your interest and outlining a little bit about you. Ask them for 5-10 minutes of their time for a quick phone conversation so that you can discover what you could do to make yourself a more attractive candidate for any current or future opportunities.
You will be surprised how many people respond positively! So once the interview is set, it is time to prepare. Make sure you have a list of 5-10 questions. It is a good idea to start off asking them about themselves. For example you could ask them why this career, what they love about it, what is most challenging? Then move into the/their team such as what does their team do, what roles are on that team, what profile do they look for when hiring? Then move into an overview of yourself by saying your elevator pitch but make sure you weave in some of the things they told you. Next is a key question - ask them for some advice. This is what hooks them, by giving you advice it psychologically ties them to you and they are more likely to want to help you beyond just this phone call. Also make sure to see if there are any current/future opportunities that they know about. Followed by, if there is anyone else that they can think of that could be of help. Finish up by asking if it is okay to follow up in a month, 3 months, or whatever is most relevant.
After the Interview
Please don't forget the "After the Interview" steps! Send them a thank you note the next day highlighting where you line up with what they like on their team, mention the advice you got and how to plan on utilizing it and remind them of the follow up. Then once that month, 3 months, or whatever comes around send another email again thanking them for their time, tell them how you took their advice with examples and ask if there are any current/future opportunities.
Once that is done, move on to the next company and continue. This is a great way to build your network, uncover those hidden jobs that are never posted and gets people on the hunt for you alleviating some of the stress of the job search!
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Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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