Informal networking is one of the best sources
of job leads. It provides you with a way to research a specific field and help
you narrow your search down to specific job choices. Informal networking
helps you broaden your pool of contacts for the future as well as provide you
with useful information.
SOURCES OF CONTACTS
- Teachers, friends, relatives, and former
employers -- and anyone else these people recommend.
- Your local
American Job Center
- Professional associations.
- Resource center directors or librarians.
- Human Resource directors or public
- Community service agencies or local
chambers of commerce.
- School alumni.
Once you've identified your contact(s), you
can ask for an informational interview by phone or by mail.
Contact By Phone
Outline what you want to say before making the call. Not only will you feel more
at ease, but it will make you appear more professional and organized. If someone
is referring you to the person called, make sure you say so early in the
conversation. Also make sure to mention that you would need only 20-30 minutes
of their time, but that you would prefer to meet in person instead of just by
When scheduling an appointment by
telephone, keep these points in mind:
- Offer a personal introduction;
- Identify why you are requesting the
- Arrange a mutually convenient time.
Contact By Mail
Follow proper business format when writing a request letter. Double check for
spelling, grammar and typing mistakes. Remember to end the letter with a
specific plan of action, such as a statement as to when you will arrange an
appointment. The telephone contact should come approximately one week after you
mail the letter. Just as with a contact by phone, the letter should include a
personal introduction and your reason for requesting the appointment.
Conducting The Informational Interview
Before the Interview:
- Learn as much as you can about the
- Write down any question you want
- Learn something about the person
with whom you'll be interviewing (if possible).
- Dress professionally.
- Bring copies of your résumé.
- Arrive 5-10 minutes before your
During the Interview:
- Restate why you wanted to
speak with this particular person.
- Be prepared to initiate the
conversation - remember that you are the interviewer.
- Keep to the original time
request of 20-30 minutes.
- Ask for referrals to other
individuals or related organizations.
- Let the person you are
interviewing broach the subject of specific job opportunities.
After the Interview:
- Send a thank you note and
keep the individual you have interviewed posted on your
- Evaluate your interviewing
style and use what you've learned on future interviews.
- Evaluate all of the
information you've received.
What To Ask
Make a list of questions you'd like answered about
a career field or the company. Use open ended questions to engage the individual
you are interviewing. Here are some examples:
Questions About A Career Field:
- What kinds of
positions are often found in (state the name of the
- What skills would I
need to perform the work successfully? (writing, math,
- What kind of
background would I need to do the job? (academic,
- What kind of education
or training is required?
- What is a typical
entry level position in this field?
- What are the
opportunities for advancement?
- What are some
alternate ways to enter this field? (volunteer work,
training, part-time work, etc.)
- What kind of future
does this career field have in terms of new
- Ask for any other
information that might be helpful, such as a critique or
your résumé, job seeking hints, etc.
Questions About The
- What are the short
term and long term goals of the company?
- What is the
philosophy of the company and what kind of training
- Do you have
descriptions of the various positions you have held
between your entry level and current job?
- Could you describe
your current job for me?
- What is a typical
career path from entry level to top management?
interviewing is an effective approach to career
planning. It is a valuable strategy for gathering
information and establishing contacts. It just
requires planning and focus to be successful.