So you have applied to all your target companies online and taken a lot of time and effort just to fill in those lengthy application forms (not to speak about tailoring your CV and Cover Letter to each position). And you have woken up every morning wondering if today is going to be the day and somebody from those companies will call inviting you for an interview. But nothing…Weeks and months have gone by with no news and you have started doubting that you will ever land a job at all.
I advise my clients to avoid a purely online application strategy and this is why – unless you are lucky, there is a small chance you will hear back from your target employers as people tend to hire those they know personally or those who have been referred to them by someone they know well. I know it’s not very fair and meritocratic but it is the case, especially in super-competitive professions such as investment banking and management consultancy. And this is where informational interviews come in.
In a nutshell, the informational interview is your chance to introduce yourself to an employee (or ideally – employees!) of your target company and find out more about the company, the department, people, culture, whether you will be a good fit for them and vice versa. From my experience, many people don’t even know about this strategy and few use it effectively to source a good job for themselves. So here are three main reasons why your job search strategy should include informational interviews:
- They actually work! You get to know main decision-makers in your target company in person. They like you (ideal case scenario), you impress them and demonstrate your passion for working in their company and when the time comes, they include you on the shortlist of interviewees or even volunteer to vouch for you for off-cycle recruitment. It’s that simple. But you need to make them like you – this is a critical step to success in these interviews.
- You get to learn about your target company from an ‘insider’ perspective. You can hear about the pluses and minuses of working there directly from those who already do work there. You get to learn about the projects they are working on, their predictions on where the industry is going to go in the future and many other useful facts. In other words, you get access to invaluable information that is not spelt out on the company website or in the media.
- You can use the above to prepare for your interviews with the company and you can go back to your contacts (if they liked you of course) to request additional information, to ask for clarifications or more informally, for instance to share an interesting article or insight you have come across. The doors are now open – you have access to the most precious asset of your target company – its employees.
So if you current job search strategy is not working, I recommend you consider the above. We can assist you with your informational interviews and alternative job search by providing you with contacts in your target companies and coaching you on how to network your way to your new job. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to hear your thoughts on whether you have used informational interviews in your search and how they have helped you.