Tap Network for Informational Interviews

Q.  I am a recent graduate in Southern California and the job openings are slim to none. I would rather not do another internship but am open to “paying my dues.” Is a cold call or an e-mail and then a call the best way to approach someone at a firm for an informational meeting? What should I expect from it?   -N

A.  Informational interviews are an essential part of effective job search networking.  But don’t expect to do a lot of them. 

Ideally, you will know someone who knows someone who can help open the door for an informational interview.  Without a mutual connection, it is difficult to arrange an informational interview via email or a cold call.  Work your network of family and friends.  Be sure to check with your college placement or alumni office to see who at the firm might have gone to your college.  

My first informational interview many long years ago came through an accountant friend who knew someone at a major Indiana utility.  It didn’t lead to a job, but it was excellent practice for the next real interview.  During an informational interview, be prepared to discuss the basics about your education, experience and extra-curricular activities, but also do your homework so you can ask thoughtful questions about the company or agency.  Study the firm’s website and Google the name(s) of the people you will be meeting.  You might be surprised to learn there are connections that lead to a more personalized discussion that they’ll remember when a job opens down the road. 

I understand your frustration about doing another internship, but this job market requires being open to landing a job even if it is a temporary position.  The key is to find something as close to your desired goal as possible, and that often comes via internships. 

2 comments on this post.
  1. 10 Tips to Best Face Bleak Job Outlook:

    […] Tap Network for Informational Interviews […]

  2. James Epstein-Reeves:

    I agree on all counts: I found my first job through an internship. Luckily it was paid and I had a boss that fought for me to earn a full-time position. Never downplay the benefits of creating a network through your internships.

    Informational interviews are tremendously effective in creating your own network. I’ve done quite a few – and it’s a great way to not only meet new people, but if you’re lucky, meet new people who know the “right” people. Definitely see if you can find an inroad through friends, family, professors, former/current supervisors first – but also don’t be shy about cold calling. The amount of generosity with time & advice you find may surprise you.

Leave a comment