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Career Corner: How to Set Up Informational Interviews: An important career tool to use during a recession

Thinking that you'd like to set up an informational interview in your chosen field? Good for you! An informational interview is not like a typical interview; in this case, there is no "want ad" to answer and no open position to fill. It's simply a way to make contact with someone who works at a company that interests you. It's a method of getting your name out there while learning more about careers in your industry.

If you're young and just starting out in your career, I highly recommend taking the initiative and seeking out an informational interview as a stepping stone to a great career doing something you really love. You'd be surprised how many young career seekers don't bother to set something like this up, and miss some really terrific opportunities because of it.

How to get the informational interview ball rolling:

Begin by speaking to someone in your social circle who already has a foot in the door. Also scan online for companies that appeal to you, and then ask if you can schedule an informational interview with someone in their office. You might even ask for an interview with a family member who works in a position or with a company that appeals to you.

Prepare in advance.

The very first thing you should do before this or any type of interview is update your resume. Include all of those resume basics, like your career objective, college degree, computer proficiencies, and especially any experience you may already have, including unpaid internships, temp jobs and so forth. If you need extra help with this, I suggest hiring a professional resume writer. Leave it to the pros to brush up your resume for you. You can find resume writers I recommend here.

Make initial contact.

When you feel ready to make contact, try sending an email first so they're not caught off guard by a random phone call. If you can't locate their email address, then the call is okay. Present yourself professionally; tell them something like, "My name is so-and-so and I'm interested in learning more about (X type of) careers at your firm. I'd love it if we could set up a time to talk." Of course, it helps to draft a couple of practice emails or do a few test-runs of your phone message before sending it out there.

Here's to having a career you love!
Hallie Crawford
Career Coach

P.S. I was recently interviewed for The Wall Street Journal by Jonnelle Marte. Her article was titled "Where'd My Job Go?" Check it out here