30 in 30: Set Up an Informational Interview
"Low stress" and "educational" aren't words that are too often associated with job-hunting, but they are both accurate ways to describe the strange beast that is the informational interview. Many companies offer informational interviews through their HR department. They are the perfect way to get you're foot in the door because they're easier to score than regular interviews. Instead of putting in a whole application, you're basically just requesting an opportunity to speak with someone at a company you find interesting. You are there to learn, so you can ask questions freely and not feel like you need to know everything already. This approach will provide you with two advantages: you'll be better informed when a real interview comes around, and it may even turn into a real interview—often companies will keep your resume on file for any positions that open up.
First30Days.com shares our enthusiasm for informational interviews: "Schedule a 10-15 minute meeting with someone who is in the role you want, someone who that person reports to, and an HR manager to get a broad perspective on what it takes to land the gig. Don't be shy about asking—people who love their jobs love to talk about their jobs!"
There's really nothing to lose. To help you out, here's a template for a informational interview request, as well as a phone script.
Dear Mrs. McGregor,
I recently graduated from the University of Miami, and after my good friend, David Johnson, learned that I was interested in a career in marketing, he suggested I contact you to request a brief informational interview.
While at the University of Miami, I majored in marketing. In addition, I had an internship last summer at Razor Corp, where I assisted media buyers on several high-profile interactive marketing campaigns. I now plan to apply both my education and my work experience to a career in marketing. At your convenience, I was hoping to learn what types of positions you suggest for a recent college graduate, and also to hear your thoughts the future of the industry as a whole.
Thank you very much for your time. If you are available to speak with me, we can talk over the phone, or I can meet you at a location of your choosing. I can be reached at 646 402 5557or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Phone Call Script
"Hi, my name is Michael Humphrey. I was fascinated by the recent article about you in The New York Times, so I thought I would get in touch because I'm very interested in pursuing a career in marketing. At your convenience, I was hoping you might be willing to spend a few minutes talking on the phone or in person to provide me with some advice based on your experience. Would it be possible to set up an informational interview? Thank you very for your consideration. You can reach me at 646 402 5557 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Looking for a job in the new year? Be sure to stay on top of all the essential job-hunting tips from Gradspot's new series, 30 in 30: The Insider's Guide to Job-Hunting in '09. If you'd like to share your own tips with the Gradspot community, email 30in30 [at] gradspot [dot] com with your tip, your occupation/industry of interest, and your name as you'd like it to appear on the site.