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4 Steps to Getting an Interview When You Don’t Know Anyone at the Office

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Adrienne Clements
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Published on October 9, 2014

10 years ago, getting noticed by submitting a well-done professional resume and cover letter was a lot easier than it is now. Today, with hundreds to thousands of qualified people applying for limited positions one has to get CREATIVE about ways to stand out.

We have all heard the phrase, “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know”.  While that may be frustrating, it is often very true.  So why is that? Well, because we human beings are wired for and thrive on CONNECTION.

Thanks to relational psychology we understand the importance of relationships in regards to human growth, development, and overall well-being.  Therefore, we are naturally programmed to want to connect with others. And this leads us to want to work with people we LIKE, and in order to like them we have to KNOW them.

Therefore, people who create a PERSONAL CONNECTION with a potential employer have a greater chance of getting noticed than those who just submit a paper resume. So how can you create a personal connection with an employer you have NEVER met before?

Easy! One of the most authentic and effective ways to create a personal connection with an employer and expand your network is by interviewing THEM.  You heard me right, INTERVIEW your dream job.

This tried and true strategy is called the “Information Interview” and has been touted by Career Counselors for years as a core tool for discovering your dream job and building your network.  Why? Because it works.  This strategy creates a personal connection and provides clarity to the interviewer about whether this is really a career path they are interested in.

Ready to conduct your Information Interview? Here is what to do…

1. Find someone who has the same (or similar) career/job to what you are interested in.

These can be connections through friends or family, colleagues, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.  Send them an email or message and say you are interested in going into their line of work and are seeking to learn more about it. Politely ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing their wisdom with you for a 15 minute chat about their career path. Actually talking to someone creates a greater connection than just email alone, so opt for a phone or face to face conversation if you can.

2. During the interview ask about their career path experience.

Here are some stem questions to help you get clear on whether this is a career path or organization you are really interested in…

    • How did you get into your job? What kind of training or education did you have?
    • What are the 3-5 tasks you do most? What are the skills required to complete these tasks?
    • What do you like most about your job?
    • What do you NOT like about your job? What do you wish was different?
    • How do you see this field evolving over the next 5-10 years?
    • What advice would you give someone starting out in this field?
    • Where would YOU look to find a position like this

3. Thank them and ask “Do you know someone else doing this work, or something similar, with whom I could speak?”. This is the question that will expand your NETWORK.

They say your network is your net-worth. So, you want to harness the power of community? Then ask this question!

4. Follow up with a thank you email within 48 hours.

Remember, promptness is good manners and manners go a long way in first impressions. If you want to work for their organization this is the perfect time to inquire about opportunities. Share briefly why you like the organization and what you feel you could contribute to their mission. Then ask who you might be able to talk with about career opportunities there.

To support you in your interviews I have created an Information Interview Template for you outlining these questions. CLICK HERE to grab your FREE PDF copy. This way you can stay focused on cultivating CONNECTION instead of on what question to ask next.

How are you going to use your new Information Interviewing skills? Please share one action step you are going to take toward getting your foot in the door of your dream job below, and embrace the power of community accountability and most importantly…connection.

Adrienne Clements

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