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by Vault Careers | July 25, 2011


When it comes to the job search, sending stacks of resumes may not be good enough anymore—add to your job search with some informational interviews.  Sure, it’s not easy to beg someone to sit down with you and talk about his or her career for thirty minutes. And chit-chatting may not seem like the best way to make career moves. However, informational interviews can provide you deeper insight into a particular field, and building your network can bring more opportunities your way.

How do informational interviews work, and how can you use them to crack the job market? Follow the tips below to get started:

Informational interviews are a great way to network and enhance your job search1. Hit Up Your Networks: Start with the networks you already have, such as undergrad alumni networks, law or business school alumni networks, family and friends. Cast a wide net, and schedule meetings with anyone who is involved in a job of interest.

2. Request a Meeting: All you have to do is ask. Let them know that you’re interested in pursuing a similar career and would like to hear about their career paths and tools for success. It may be awkward, but think about it this way: would you turn someone down with a similar request?

3. Go to Learn: Learning about how people got where they did and what they view as a successful candidate can help you plan and position yourself better for your job search. Engage, ask questions and seek advice on how you can succeed.

4. Don’t Ask For a Job: The informational interview is not the time to hit someone up for a job (unless he or she broaches the subject, of course). Use it as an opportunity to build your network, learn about the field and understand what makes candidates successful.

5. . . . Right Away: The key to an informational interview is keeping up the connection after the interview. Stay in touch, keeping him or her updated on your search and goals. If the relationship develops enough, use the contact as a resource to discuss your resume, job options, potential employers and how to make yourself a prime candidate.

6. Be Prepared: Read up on your contact before you go for the interview. If they see you’re not interested, they won’t want to help you.  Research is key.

7. Ask for Connections: For every informational interview, ask if they know anyone else who may be helpful to speak with. Set up meetings with those people too. Your network will balloon, and from those connections, you may better develop your career direction. You never know when one of those contacts will encounter a job opportunity and think of you.

--Mary Kate Sheridan,


Filed Under: Interviewing|Networking