One of the best ways to research companies for your job search is to conduct informational interviews — networking with individuals to get information about their job and the company they work for. This can give you the inside scoop on what the company does and what it’s like to work for them. You also want to know what the company is looking for in a candidate.
Using informational interviews has double the benefits – you get information about a company while also networking with people who can possibly help you get a job there. You’re not connecting with them to ask for a job, just information and advice, but sometimes an added bonus is being on their radar if a job opportunity comes up for which you’d be a good match.
As a Director of Social Media, my first recommendation for finding people to connect with and informally interview is to use LinkedIn. Use the advanced people search filters to find and connect with individuals who work at a company you’re interested in. You can search by industry, job title, and my favorite – past company (enter US Army, US Navy, United States Air Force or United States Marine Corps for past company and you’re bound to find fellow veterans). When you invite them to join your network, change the default message to let them know you’re transitioning from the military, are interested in working for their company, and would like to connect with them for more information.
Also, join groups on LinkedIn, both in your industry and for veterans, to find relevant people to add to your network and ask for information. Participating in group discussions will help get you noticed for your expertise and make it more likely that the person whose discussion you’re commenting on will accept your invitation to connect. Following group discussions will help you stay in the loop on industry topics.
Another way to find prospects for your informational interviews is by checking the company’s website for employee bios or staff information, sometimes found on the About Us page. Find these key company employees on LinkedIn or Twitter to see what they are posting, invite them to connect with you, and follow them.
Once you’re connected with someone, either through social media or in other ways, you can approach them for information. Again, you’re not asking for a job, and many of these people aren’t in a position to hire. You are asking for information about the company, their thoughts on working there, referrals to others in the company, and to keep you in mind for future opportunities.
Read more information about conducting an informational interview: The Power of the Informational Interview
For more job search advice, plus upcoming hiring events and hot jobs and opportunities, check out the latest Corporate Gray Newsletter!