Thursday, February 5, 2009

Job Hunting Tips #2 – The “Informational Interview”

Many job hunting coaches advocate trying to get “Informational Interviews”, where you aren’t specifically aiming at a job, but just gathering information, getting advice, networking, etc. What can you try to accomplish in this meeting to improve the quality of the discussion? Here are some tips:

  1. Treat it as a customer visit - what is the "benefit to the buyer" of having this conversation with you? Maybe they just feel better, at having given back. Maybe you give them specific value too, in the conversation.
  2. Find the pain - what is this person's biggest business issue right now? What keeps him/her up at night? How could you offer a solution?
  3. Be a resource - offer to help them network to find the things and people they need, now and in the future. Then really do it – send them info on things that are relevant to their needs; ask how you can help periodically.
  4. Ask questions, don't "tell" or “sell”: Ask questions, use the two ears, one mouth ratio (2:1), let them talk. Gain insight. Don't sell yourself. The more you hear from them, the more you can find the way your background might fit, the way you could help, then you can close rather than sell: "If I could help you solve that issue, would that be of interest?"
  5. Find the referral. Be prepared to state your benefit to your next employer (not a recitation of your resume), and ask "WHO do you know that could use that skill?"
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