Making Networking and Informational Interviews Part of your Job Search

LinksThere’s a 90% chance your next job will come through networking, even more so if relocation isn’t part of your job searching plan. Nationally, 80% of all jobs are found in the hidden job market. You find the hidden job market through networking. The hidden job market is composed of the positions that open in organizations that are never advertised and are usually filled via word-of-mouth. If people do not know that you are out of work, available, and qualified for these positions, word-of-mouth jobs will never find you.

Yes, it takes courage to tell people that you are out of work, and even more courage to reach out to others to meet them and learn from them. However, if you sit at home in front of a computer every day the hidden jobs will stay hidden.

I always advise people to automate their Internet job search using a job aggregator like or and let the jobs flow to them each day via email. Create a customized profile with very specific keywords to limit the amount of positions that are found so that they are relevant to your specific talents and the kinds of positions you’re looking for. Then, unsubscribe from any other websites that may be sending job alerts, because the aggregator will pick those positions up too.

Streamlining the online job search leaves you the free time to seek out effective, in-person networking opportunities. Understand that networking is not easy at first, but it does get better as you learn the process.

Informational interviews are meetings that you set up with people that you want to meet and learn from, lasting about twenty minutes to half an hour. They can help you as you are researching a company you might want to work for, or help you understand some of the skills you want to update or acquire as you continue your job search.

To make the most of these interviews, think about questions like:

  • How did you get involved in this career?
  • What do you like best, and least about the work you do?
  • What are some of the jobs you’ve had before this one?
  • What can you tell me about the state of this industry now?
  • What are some of the training and skills you learned to do this job?

One of the most important questions you can ask in an effective informational interview is the final question you ask:

Would you be able to refer me to any other people that I should be having this conversation with?

If the answer is yes, and they provide the contacts, it’s been a great meeting.

But remember, after the informational interview or any interview, you’re not done networking: make sure you send a thank-you note within a few days of your meeting.

Byline: Damian Birkel is a certified career counselor and the author of The Job Search Checklist: Everything You Need to Know to Get Back to Work After a Layoff(AMACOM, October 2013, $16.00) He is the founder of Professionals in Transition® Support Group.

This is a Guest post.

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Good luck in your search,
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