Personal brand, informational interview


To all my fellow job seekers, I understand how it feels when you know you are not making progress in your job search. You might desire to be in a role for which there are no ways or search avenues to follow. Sometimes it feels extremely frustrating when you don’t reach that career goal that you’ve so ambitiously set for yourself while you see others giving you a run for their progress.


But let’s hang in there and understand the importance of building relationships with people who can get us there. I know in some cases, when you are being told that you fellow friends, ex-colleagues or alumni can be your best confidants and steer you out of the sinking ship of directionless job searches, I don’t agree with this entirely. In fact, most of the best searches and headhunting happen via speaking with complete strangers. They absorb your situation with a fresh pair of lens and guide you with the best career advice.


What is an informational interview, anyway? According to Sara Sutten Fell, chief executive and founder of FlexJobs , an informational interview is a great way for job seekers to do exactly that – get information – without having a formal job interview scheduled. And the best part of setting an informational interview is to get an inside scoop on the company you want to work at and make a decisive call whether does it really is a fit for your skills, knowledge, experience, and competencies or not.


So how do you land up having a conversation aka informational interviews with them?


Here is my approach, to approach them.


  • Follow them and get a perspective of their career/ business. You first step should be to follow them on LinkedIn or Twitter or any other social media handle and learn about their accomplishments, their network, and what is their rule to connect with people. Sometimes they mention their contact details, and sometimes they need a reason or a logic to connect with you. You need to find your rationale to connect with them for a bigger purpose or engagement. Remember: don’t make connections for the sake of it just to expand your network; make connections to add value to the other person’s life. So think value – and add!


  • Share their content with your social network. There are many ways to connect with your target contact list – and one of the ways is to acknowledge what they are sharing online (on twitter or LinkedIn) and then writing article specific emails to connect with them. This shows your interest in their career and their areas of interest: the very first step to building a commonality.


  • Email your top 10 list of contacts with a grabbing subject line. Don’t just write ‘hello’ or ‘hi’ or ‘Quick question’. Craft an excellent introductory subject line like; ‘In reading your post on Internet of Things’ or ‘Jane suggested I contact you’ or ‘Writing at the suggestion of William’ (in case you have a reference, even better!). Ideally, it is better if you don’t send in your resume, but keep you social presence consistent and relevant to the job you are looking for. That way if they search for you online, they know they are speaking to the right person, who they can potentially help.


  • Don’t ‘job it forward’ with them. Well, they know it already that you need some help or advice or a suggestion, so keep the conversation free-flowing yet insightful. Talk about ‘what’s in it for them’ and not your job-seeking spiel. Understand how they succeeded in their careers and find a link between what drives you and what keeps them ticking. The best way to seek help is to understand their set of challenges and see how you can mutually solve them. Once your passions connect, you connect! Your goal here is to move the ball forward in your job search by asking of they know someone who can help you reach your career goal instead of plainly asking them to get you a job. People, that way, love helping once they see a bigger picture or a larger context of your vision.


And don’t forget to thank then once they agree to meet with you and speak with you on phone or Skype. It’s true, not all people who you contact would be interested in having a conversation with you, but you can always make your email/ message so compelling to get more interviews. The more personal and bespoke is your mail, the more chances of you landing those excellent informational interviews – and, in turn, landing that job!

Job on!