Last week I wrote about the importance of informational interview skills in a local job search in Portland or any other city. There’s no better way to learn what employers want, uncover unadvertised jobs, and grow your professional network.
Once you know you have your job goal and know the professional field you want to explore, you need to identify the contacts that can help you. I often see job seekers struggle with this first step because they are uncertain where to begin, who to ask, and how to best use their time.
Here are four tips that have worked for me in finding great people for informational interviews:
Friends and family
Turn to the people who know you best: your families and friends. Don’t neglect to tell your kid sister, your neighbors, or your pals in the Kickball League about your job goals and whom you want to meet.
A lot of people don’t take advantage of their closest connections. But your friends and family are the people who are most invested in your success and most motivated to help you!
Plus, you never know what kind of second- and third-degree connections might be available through friends a family.
LinkedIn contacts (and contacts of contacts)
You know that an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is vital to the success of any job search. But LinkedIn isn’t only for about marketing yourself. It’s an invaluable tool for connecting with the world’s largest professional database.
One of the biggest advantages of staying in touch with former colleagues and fellow students on LinkedIn: you can see their networks and where they reach. Don’t be shy. Ask for an introduction if you see a connection you want to make.
Reach out to the leaders of your occupation’s professional association. Also look at published guides of leading employers, like the Portland Business Journal’s indispensable Book of Lists or the Fortune 500.
Don’t forget your alma mater. Many universities have an online database of graduates, often leaders in their professions, who have offered to talk to a fellow alumnus about job hunting. Have you visited your school’s alumni database? If not, I think you’ll be amazed at the people who are willing to see you.