Now is the Time To Set Up Informational Interviews

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Whether you have a job or are searching, informational interviews are a big key to success. Instead of sitting around waiting for call-backs and interviews, human resources professionals recommend that job seekers set up informational interviews with managers and executives within their target companies. You will see if a company’s particular culture is a fit , practice your “tell me about yourself” speech, gain confidence, valuable insight and get networked into that manager’s world, as well as his/her organization and industry.

Looking for an Informational Interview Game Plan?

1. Use CareerShift to find alumni that work in your industry of choice. Find target companies in your area of interest. Then look up people that work there. Find people that are at an appropriate level to reach out to.
2. Research and sign up for alumni events, industry related associations and specific Meetup.com affairs.
3. Order Business cards. The holidays are coming- use them!

Reach out and ask for the Informational Interview– The informational interview is a relaxed setting to practice your answers to future interview questions. You should not feel as if you are in an interview or selling a product; however, this is an excellent opportunity to practice your personal brand story or pitch.

1. Confirm meeting time and place the day before.
2. Arrive to the meeting prepared with thoughtful questions. About.com has a useful list of possible questions to review.
3. Do not offer resume, have it handy, in case it is asked for. It is inappropriate to ask for a job in an informational interview. The purpose of your meeting should be to learn a company culture and network in your industry.
4. Ask who else you should talk to so you can keep growing and nurturing your network.
5. Follow-up is critical. Follow up with unique stationary. Thank each contact for his/her time, information, advice. Thank-you letters should be sent via email; a hard copy should be sent through snail mail.
6. Use CareerShift to keep your notes (in MY JOBS, MY CONTACTS, MY CALENDAR), schedules, follow up reminders in one place.
7. Set up a schedule to update your growing network as you progress.
8. Remember that small talk is an art. Taking note of personal details is a worthwhile technique. When you follow up, you can ask about family, vacation, home, etc. It all counts when creating lasting relationships throughout your career.

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.