How do I get on an informational interview with someone about an open position? Do either of you have any advice around this process?
I would recommend reaching out to a person that you have some connection to already, if at all possible (i.e. College alumni, attendance at conference or event, past employers, etc.).
One tip about an outreach e-mail is to keep it very brief. I have heard that if your initial outreach e-mail is short enough for someone to read on their cell phone screen without scrolling, you are much more likely to get a response! It is easy to get carried away if you are excited about the position, but remember to be mindful of this person's time!
I tried reaching out to a few people on LinkedIn a week ago but didn't get a response. I don't want to bother anyone but is it acceptable to ask again or should I reach out to new people and try a different message?
"Some people are on LinkedIn more frequently than others. If you are already connected to a person, you should be able to access their contact information from their profile page. Underneath their banner there is a small print that says "See Contact Info."
You should follow up with them via email and mention that you found their contact information on LinkedIn as many people check email more frequently than LinkedIn.
As for those that have not connected with you, I always advise people to add a note and mention how you are connected to the contact, or how you wish to interact with them. Just cold connecting on LinkedIn feels very transactional for an employer/alum so they need to understand your connection and why you are reaching out to them."
What are some good questions to ask on one of these informational calls?
I feel like people struggle with this a lot! Definitely do your homework and research the company and the individual's LinkedIn before you connect. They will be very impressed with your knowledge, even if it's just baseline information.
Here are a list of questions I always think are good to prepare as well!
• What is your educational background? What were your career plans when you graduated?
• What credentials (degrees, certificates, licenses, etc.) are required for entry into the field?
• How did you prepare yourself for this work?
• Describe your typical work day/week.
• What skills are most essential for effectiveness in this job?
• What are the toughest problems you must deal with? What do you find most rewarding?
• If you were ever to leave this type of work, what would drive you away from it?
• What skills have you developed that would be transferable to a different career area?
• Is your career field growing? What do you think the future holds for this field?
• What type of experience would you recommend for undergraduates interested in this field?
• If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently?
• What qualifications do you think are important in hiring entry-level candidates in this field?
• How do job seekers find out about openings in this field?
• Based on our conversation, what other people do you believe I should talk to?
• Could you tell me a few people who might be willing to speak with me and may I use your name as an introduction? (Be prepared for an offer to introduce you on LinkedIn)
After a networking call or meet up it's always a good idea to sent a thank you note as well! Even if you only spoke for 10–15 minutes a short thank you email thanking them for their time is always appreciated and shows a lot about you as a candidate/mentee.
I've reached out to a few people in the past and have had quick phone calls with them, but it didn't really click so we never had more than the one chat. Should I still keep up with the "bad dates" and if so whats a good way to do that?
"Bad dates can happen! I don't think you should try to force a networking relationship that just might not be a fit. I think that instead you could ask if they feel comfortable connecting you with anyone else in their industry or at their organization that you could learn more from. Remember, networking is about learning more about an industry and having conversations. It is never about asking for a job. I would try to pivot though and make the most out of that networking connection, regardless if that networking experience didn't work out. The worst that person can say is no!"
If a student meets a recruiter at a career fair or does an informational interview with someone from a company over the phone, how should they go about using that person's name on their cover letter/as a reference? What are the best practices here?
"If you connect with a recruiter at a career fair it is perfectly acceptable to mention in the introduction paragraph of a cover letter that you met this person and learn more from the recruiter at the fair (mention the fair's name for context).
As for an informational interview, I would ask the person you are networking with at the end of the interview if it would be OK to mention in your cover letter that you connected with them.
I have never had a person I networked with say no to this. However, it is always better to be up front with the person you are networking with so that they are not caught off guard when you mention their cover letter. Mentioning someone's name in a cover letter could easily get back to the individual from HR!"