Oh Wise and Recent Hire, Do You Have 20 Minutes?

by Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

So how ‘bout those informational interviews? They’re a fantastic way of intelligence gathering and getting your name out there for potential openings.  They’re great practice for real job interviews but without the crushing nervousness. You can ask for feedback and the interviewer won’t feel the pressure of having to hire.  Plus, the more people you meet the more familiar you'll become with the jargon and buzzwords of the industry. Interviewers will respond to this when you meet with them to discuss an actual opening.

But let’s dig a little deeper into our bag of tricks and go beyond the normal informational interview. Rather than concentrating solely on mid- to upper- level people or managers consider reaching out to people just a few years out of college. They can be a source of great job search information, advice and encouragement.  They’ll know the duties and requirements of entry-level positions and most will be happy to help someone close to their own age.

Use your network to find some names. Talk to your Alumni Association, frat/sorority or other student organization. Get it out on Facebook that you’re looking to talk to a recent hire. Go to LinkedIn, get into the Advanced Search/People area and start plugging in your criteria. You can direct your search in different ways but what you’re looking for are people you have an association with.  Where you went to college, groups you have in common and friends or connections you share will give you a starting point. Any sort of commonality can help break the ice and make your contact more receptive to meeting with you. Regardless of how you find them make contact, ask for a few minutes and be polite if they say no.

Of course the rules of info interviews still apply: promise you’ll take no more than 20 minutes and stick to it, have your questions ready to go and be flexible if schedules get in the way. Make sure to confirm the day before and be cordial if they need to bump you, have some dates and times ready to go to facilitate a fast reschedule.

This is such a great way to network and polish your interview skills. But be a bit careful; don’t be too informal or spend too much time talking about other stuff. Yes, that movie/song/Kardashian is great but get over it. Keeping it professional is still important, this connection may ultimately refer you for an opening and if they’re not one hundred percent confident that you can pull it off you’re just somebody they met with and that’s where it ends.  And people, do I really need to tell you to send a thank-you note? I’m a throwback and prefer an actual piece of paper with actual ink, with actual thoughts and an actual signature. But however you do it, info interviews are a great way to get yourself out there.

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