You completed your resume, practiced your interview skills, and began the job hunt. What now? An informational meeting, when successfully conducted, can be your next best step to a successful career. We’ve answered the most common questions about informational meetings below to help you take the next step.
What is an informational meeting?
An informational meeting is a stress-free interview that gives you the opportunity to learn from someone in a particular field or industry, get feedback on your resume and experience, and practice your value proposition. An informational meeting can be with someone you know personally, someone you were referred to, or a person that you have targeted in a company or industry that interests you.
Why should I set one up?
Many positions are never advertised. Informal discussions in the form or informational meetings are one way to discover these job opportunities. Further, by participating in professional dialogue with someone you are building your network, gaining strategic insight and advice about your chosen career, and building your confidence.
How do I organize it?
It is always easier to obtain an informational meeting if it is not setup as an interview, but as an opportunity to gain information. By creating a relaxed environment, you open up the door for two-way communication. There are 3 ways to ask for a meeting with someone.
- The “John Smith suggested I call you” approach.
- The “changing career directions from military to civilian” approach.
- The “advice on my job search” approach.
The latter two approaches are cold-calls, meaning you have no referral. In each of the approaches be sure to state your name, why you are reaching out to the particular person, and what conversation you would like to set up. Remember to always stress that you are simply looking to gain knowledge and receive feedback.
What do I talk about?
You set up the meeting, so you need to engage the other person with relevant topics. You may use the topics and questions below as conversation starters.
- Trends, Business Conditions, and Changes
What are some long-term trend affecting your industry?
With these trends, what qualifications are managers looking for?
- Career Focus and Transition
What do you think would be a logical step based on my resume?
With my background, to whom do you think I should be talking with?
- Resume Feedback
What was your first reaction to my resume?
Does this resume say enough about my quantifiable results?
- Job Search Strategies
What suggestions might you have for my job search exploration?
What industries for you think I should be exploring?
What do I do after?
Like any interview, you should always send a thank you note after an informational meeting. You can opt for a hand-written thank you note, an email, or a small gift. This is especially encouraged if your informational meeting led to another referral.
Many people skip this next step in the job search process because they lack confidence, feel embarrassed, or simply don’t understand the power of informational interviews. It takes a real professional to grasp and implement the idea. By garnering the confidence to seek out opportunities and advice, you can put yourself on the path to a new a career.