The Informational Interview:
How To Turn It to Your Advantage
As a law student or a lawyer, your mentors probably tell you to expand your network. Obviously, expanding your network is a good thing and, as a result, you devote a significant amount of time to business development, social networking, volunteer opportunities, and formal gatherings. At these events, you end up talking to a variety of interesting and successful people. Then, once you leave, you hope that your networking will lead to a few long-term connections. Now the real question becomes: what do you do with all the new relationships that you have created? Can you turn it into an informational interview? Further, if you are looking for a new job, can you turn your informational interview into a new job?
Find a Connection.
To make a connection, remember that it can be difficult to reach out to a successful attorney, but, more often than not, most are willing to lend a hand and give some advice. Your main focus should be finding and clearly identifying any connection that you share with your target professional. A direct link is helpful, such as an alma mater or friend, but it does not have to be such a tightly knit connection. The connection can be as plain as having the same interest in a particular area of the law.
Send an Introductory Email.
Once you find the correct person or potential mentor, you should email the person, stating your interest in talking to them. If you identify the purpose of your email clearly and succinctly in the subject line, your message is more likely to be open and read. The introductory email itself must be concise with details such as your name, background, aspirations, and any questions/requests.
Do not, under any circumstances, send a resume with your message. Your ultimate dream may be landing a job offer, but you should not advertise this plan at this point. Emailing a resume for no reason says to this potential contact that you are solely interested in talking to him or her if they can provide a job for you. You will get many more responses if you do not attach a resume to your email and phrase your request as informational about your potential mentor’s success in the industry.
Prepare for Contact.
Now that you have got the ball rolling, the next measure is to be prepared. Your contact may have gotten back to you with an invitation to meet up or have a conversation over the phone. Perhaps, at this stage, he or she might also ask for a resume. Obviously, you should provide one if asked.
To prepare for your meeting or phone call, examine your contact’s biography on the firm’s website very well. Make a note of the career highlights on his or her career path. Find out what her or she was doing before his or her current firm. Also, pay attention to the matters on which he or she has worked recently. Investigate this information and be on the look out for more facts regarding his or her recent cases or deals. Attempt to research the websites of the companies where your contact was previously employed.
Review Your Resume.
After researching about your contact, you should analyze yourself. Take a look at your resume and revise accordingly. You must be prepared to speak in regards to any past experiences that you may have had.
Next, you will need to understand what questions you will be asking in this informational interview. Therefore, it is critical that you have a series of questions that you would like to address during the phone call or meeting. You should be prepared to guide the flow of the conversation, if needed.
Some questions to ask during your conversation could include the following:
- How did you get to your present role?
- On what kinds of cases do you typically work?
- What is the best way to discover about opportunities in your specialization?
- How is a typical day structured for you?
- What advice do you have for an individual seeking to transition to this field?
During the meeting, be certain that your intentions are straightforward, but do not ask for a job position. These informational meetings are not about securing a job. It would not be very polite to ask your contact for a job post.
However, it would be appropriate to do so if he or she brings up a vacancy that intrigues you. Additionally, you can make it clear that you are looking for a new job position and offer your resume at the conclusion of the informational interview. Keep in mind that you should avoid pressuring your contacts. By taking these measures, your contacts are much more likely to remember you when they hear about openings in the market.
Lastly, do not forget to follow-up. Sending a thank-you note via email within a day of your meeting or call shows that you appreciated the time and effort your contact went through for you. The email should be brief, but make it personal by adding something insightful the contact said.
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Are you looking for your dream job? Are you interested in setting up an informational interview with an industry expert? Would you like some help in working through these tips? If so, contact a Career Counselor with Lexacount Search’s Career Consulting Services. Or, if you are seeking a new finance/accounting position, contact a Search Consultant from Lexacount Search’s Finance Group. Or, if you are seeking a position as a lawyer or legal assistant, contact a Search Consultant from Lexacount Search’s Legal Group.