I bet you clicked on this article wondering, “what is she talking about?”
I’m talking about informational interviews!
In my opinion, going on an informational interview (also known as an informational conversation) is the most underrated way to land your dream job. It’s the best way to get job leads before you submit your resume.
Here are just a few things you can get from a short conversation with someone in a department (or company) you’ve been eying:
Insider Information. The goal of this meeting is to learn more about the department, its culture, its business goals and objectives, the manager’s background and why they’re interested in this area, etc. Don’t just make this meeting all about you. Spend some time learning about the department and the challenges it’s facing.
(BONUS Ambitious Tip: If you have ideas that’ll help ease their pain, give them one (and only one) of your ideas. This will show them that you are interested in providing value to them. If you have more ideas, save one for the follow up email, then offer to help in the future. Great managers appreciate that even if they don’t utilize your idea(s). )
Become a Familiar Face. Managers love to hire people they know. There’s a saying that goes,”It’s not who you know, but who knows you!” That has never been more true. This meeting allows the department manager to get to know you on a personal level, as well as your career aspirations and your interests. In 6-months or less, while scanning through a ton of resumes your name will instantly stand out among a stack of unknowns.
Get called first. The hiring manager may keep you in mind for future opportunities. Once, I was called in for a real interview 2 months after an informational interview. I was shocked! I applied to the job “just to give it a shot.” I didn’t realize that the director/ hiring manager for this position was the same guy I went on an informational interview with. Unfortunately, they had to cancel the requisition but I got “insider information” and was prepared! (I landed the job 9-months later but that’s a different story.)
Opportunity to Impress the Hell Out of ‘Em. Real interviews can be stressful. The informational interview, puts you in the driver’s seat. Asking smart and intelligent questions can help you impress the hiring manager. Throw in some personality and you have a winning combination!
(Don’t worry if you aren’t an extrovert with loads of charisma, just be you. Seriously.)
Network like a Ninja. Having this type of conversation allows you to add another valuable contact in your circle. At one point during the conversation, the person you’re meeting may say (for example), “Since you’re interested in business development you should also talk to Steve…” Talking to Steve will further increase your network. One day, after your meeting with Steve, he might invite you to lunch with a group of his colleagues. Then BAM, an instantly larger (quality) network which translates to more potential job leads!
With this strategy, I’ve been able to secure multiple interviews and get multiple job offers. I’ll admit, this approach can be a lot of work and time consuming. BUT, once the job offers start pouring in, you’ll look back and smile, because the effort was worth it. 🙂 Find more resources here.
What companies/departments are you interested in? Who can you reach out to via your company’s directory or connect to on LinkedIn to learn more about your dream leadership role?