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Networking & Informational Interviews
Job hunting isn’t easy. Nobody ever said it would be. Writing and rewriting resumes. Online applications that get no response. Even in this day and age of the internet, with the ease of information at our finger tips – it’s the face-to-face contact that wins outs. Keep in mind:
- More jobs are found through networking that any other means.
- Most employers like to hire people who have been recommended to them.
- A referral is a stamp of approval for the quality of your work and your work ethic.
Networking is the process of meeting people, having conversations and sharing information. It is about building relationships and is an important career development skill that is worth developing. A good network of professional contacts can help you stand out from a crowded applicant pool. Think of it as a spidering effect. You know someone who knows someone. The more people in your network, the larger your pool of contacts is. However, in order to build your network, you have to work at it. You can’t just wish it into existence.
Here are a few tips:
- You have an existing network in your friends, family, extended relatives, family friends, supervisors, professors and professionals you meet at career fairs. Ask them if they know anyone in your field of interest that you can meet and talk with.
- Find Las Positas College alumni in your area of interest. They have a sweet spot for current students going through the same thing they did.
- Meet new people through organizations and activities both on-campus and off.
- Take a leap to meet new people, even if you are an introvert.
- Make sure you have a 30-second elevator speech ready
- Develop a Linked in profile. Find professionals in your area of interest, especially Las Positas College alumni who can connect you with others.
One way to build your network, meet professionals in the field and find out about particular occupations is to conduct informational interviews. These are short, 20-30 minute, conversations with people working in the field that you can tap for valuable information. You can learn about the realities of a job and what you can expect. You can affirm that your dream job is just what you thought it might be – or nothing at all as you expected. The point is to make contact and then to keep that relationship going. Job and internship offers often result from informational interviews even though getting offers is not their purpose. At a minimum, you can count each informational interviewee as a valuable member of your network.
Here are a few tips to help:
- Use your existing network to find potential interviewees. Your family and professors are a good place to start. Use LinkedIn as a resource as well.
- Find Las Positas College alumni in your area of interest.
- When requesting an informational interview, offer a phone conversation or to come to their office. Make it convenient for them.
- Don’t ask for a job during the informational interview. They are fact-gathering opportunities. A job or internship could be a result from it, but it should not be your intention.
- Do your research on the interviewee. Look him/her up on Linked In to know more about his/her background.
- Be prepared with open-ended questions. Click here for sample questions.
- Consider talking to people in entry level jobs as well to know more about what your first job could be like.
- Keep the interview to 20-30 minutes. They are volunteering their time for you. Don’t abuse that.
- Always end the interview asking for another contact for your next informational interview. This way, you are continuing to build your network.
- Send a hand written thank you note if possible. If not, at the very least, send an email.
Don’t forget to check out the Online Resources page for more links to helpful sites. Remember, information is power. The more information you have, the better prepared you will be.