When seeking information about a job, company, or industry, there are a variety of sources that can provide what you need. These may include:
- Someone who is doing the job you want but at a different company than you are thinking of applying to.
- Someone who works in the industry you want to work in, but not necessarily doing the job you want to do.
- Someone who works at the company you want to work at so you can get an idea of company culture, benefits, and vacation policies, and to possibly get a referral to the person with the authority to hire you for your dream job.
- A professor who teaches classes in your dream industry so you can learn about what you need to do to prepare yourself to work in the industry.
Once you’ve decided that an informational interview would be helpful, you may find yourself wondering who you can interview and where you can find them. Here are some ideas:
- Ask the people you know if they know someone who works in the job/industry you want to work in.
- Contact your target industry’s trade associations and ask if there is a member who would be willing to talk to someone who is new to the field.
- Contact your university’s alumni association and/or your former professors or the head of the department.
- Use LinkedIn! Conduct a search by job title or company and then either request a connection directly, or see who you know in common who could make the introduction. Also consider contacting people in a LinkedIn Group you’re a member of to see if they would meet with you.
- Reach out to a recruiter in the industry. A recruiter who specializes in the industry will have great insights on industry potential, salary and benefit expectations, and who is hiring.
Make a list of people (and/or companies and job titles) you would like to conduct informational interviews with and start contacting them. Email is generally best for this. Here is a sample email template that you can use to reach out to the people you’d like to interview:
I was given your name by our mutual acquaintance, [Name], in the hopes that you would answer a few questions I have about working [in the __ industry, or at ___ company]. I would love to [speak with you by phone/meet with you for coffee] for [time period] at a [time/place] that is convenient for you. I am [just graduating from ___/looking to make a career change to __ industry], and your insights would be most helpful.
If you would be willing to [meet with me/talk with me by phone], please let me know a couple of times that will work for you to choose from. If you don’t have the time to [meet with me/talk with me] at this time, I understand.
Make sure you keep your email brief and to the point. Remember, you are asking that person to do you a favor and don’t want to waste their time. If you haven’t heard back after a week, it’s okay to send a follow-up email. If you don’t receive a response after the second email, move on to the next person on your list.
The next article in our series will offer helpful tips for preparing for your informational interviews.
Note: This blog post only touches on certain aspects of this topic and is not a comprehensive list. This blog post is an educational and informational resource for job seekers and is not a substitute for working with a resume writer or other professional. See our Terms and Conditions for additional information.