If you’re like most people, you’ve had at least one informational interview explains Peter Decaprio. You may even have enjoyed the experience so much that you’ve asked for a contact to take your new friend out for coffee or lunch later. This kind of networking is important to almost everyone in the job market today because it’s often easier to get a job through personal connections than through formal applications. The question becomes, how do you convince your newfound contact that she needs to hire YOU when she has no open positions?
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One way is to show her what you’re willing to offer an employer who does have a position available.
Here are just five ways that alumni can demonstrate their value to an employer.
1. Let your contact know why you’re a perfect match for the job and company
Make sure your contact knows about any special skills, backgrounds or hobbies that make you uniquely qualified for the position. If she can say, “This person is already skilled in X,” it will go a lot further than just saying that “X is a great addition to a team.”
2. If there’s no specific job opening, determine what skills might be needed most
If there are no current openings at either of your companies, look into possible future needs based on industry changes, turnover in other departments or skills going out of style through attrition says Peter Decaprio. Make sure your contact knows these possibilities – especially if they impact her department – and then offer to be the solution if anything does come up.
3. If you’re stuck, show off your (other) talents
If there are no openings at the present time, try networking anyway by asking for advice or referrals to others who might be able to help you in the future. You also could ask her if she knows of any other companies that might need someone with your skills/knowledge/connections. (Don’t forget – these may not always reflect her company.) This is an especially good way to “fish where the fish are” because informational interviews are often more successful when conducted with people outside one’s own industry or geographic area.
4. Ask how you can help her career while helping yourself
This is a wonderful way to form a mutually beneficial relationship. If your contact’s company is known for sending people to prestigious conferences, find out the dates of upcoming ones and offer to go with her-but only if you can afford it. You could even volunteer to cover some of the costs yourself as a means of making a good impression that will ultimately benefit both of you.
5. Offer an internship or short-term contract – with benefits
If there are no permanent positions available right now but you need some money, consider offering an internship or shorter contract position in exchange for valuable contacts and experience. This could be especially useful if she is looking at hiring someone from outside the company and needs to have “vetted” candidates first – which would include considering you.
As always, follow-up is a key. After a meeting or call, send a thank-you note to your contact and remind her. That you’re still very much interested in working for her firm – or any company where she recommends you (if applicable). Check back in every month or two with another update on how your job search is going; if nothing else, it will keep you “top of mind” should anything come open down the line.
It is important to make sure your contact knows. You are still have interest in working for her company explains Peter Decaprio. Follow up when needed, and make it clear that you’d be happy to meet again.
The secret to getting an informational interview is to make yourself. Stand out from other applicants while showing potential employers why they need YOU. It can be difficult to do this without sounding like an egotistical jerk; however, if you approach it correctly, you’ll get the information. You need to either move forward with submitting a resume or plan for another strategy.