Networking handout


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Networking handout

  1. 1. Building Career Networks and Informational Interviewing Career Services
  2. 2. Networking and Informational Interviewing What is networking and why is it important?Networking is simply the process of creating connections among people. Everyone knowspeople (friends, family, co-workers, and service providers) and therefore everyone has anetwork. A career network consists of those individuals who can offer you advice andinformation on the occupations and fields in which you are interested. Building this network isan essential part of your career exploration and job search—certainly as important asdeveloping a good resume and much more effective than looking on the internet.People in your career network can often put you on the inside track about job openings and,perhaps most importantly, can help you decide if a career field is a good fit for your interestsand skills. Learning how to build an effective network is a skill that is equally important for thefirst time job seeker, mid-life career changer, and seasoned professional or recent graduate. I don’t know anyone! How can I possibly build a career network?Steps to begin your network: 1. Brainstorm a list and write down the names of everyone you know. Include friends, family, co-workers, faculty, work supervisors, members of organization(s) you belong to, and those who provide you with services (doctor, dentist, mechanic, etc.) 2. Speak with faculty members in your major. Make an appointment to chat with them about their field and ask them to refer you to other colleagues who might be able to become part of your network. 3. Consider volunteering and getting an internship. These are two of the easiest ways to expand your professional network. 4. Speak with members of the Career Services staff. They may be able to help you arrange a “job shadowing” experience where you can get a firsthand look at someone doing a job in which you might be interested. As you begin to put all these people together, you have built yourself a career network! 2
  3. 3. Building a Career NetworkBrainstorm a list of everyone you know. Do not limit your list to those people who mighthave jobs that you want. Include everyone because a person on this list may very well knowsomeone who knows someone who can be helpful to you… You get the picture! Anyway,you can always week out the list at a later time.FRIENDSName Occupation_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________CO-WORKERSName Occupation________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________RELATIVESName Occupation____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________SUPERVISORS 3
  4. 4. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________SERVICE PROVIDERS/OTHERSDoctor: ___________________________________________________________________Dentist:____________________________________________________________________Clergy:_____________________________________________________________________Insurance Agent:_____________________________________________________________Auto Mechanic:______________________________________________________________NEIGHBORS/ACQUAINTANCES/CLASSMATESName Occupation_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________FACULTY/ADVISORS_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4
  5. 5. What is an informational interview and what can it do for me? Informational interviewing is a process by which you locate and actually speak with people who are currently employed in a field that interests you. It is yourgreatest source of career information because it gives you a first-hand look at an occupation—something you can’t achieve by conducting library research or just taking a class. Informational interviews can help you to: Confirm your choice of career by exploring the day to day world of someone who is working in the field Build confidence and skill in your ability to talk about your career goals and interests Increase your vocabulary of the field Make contact with potential employers Gather additional referrals for information and job leads Practice your interviewing skills in a relaxed environmentPLEASE NOTE: AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW IS NOT A JOB INTERVIEW!The worst mistake you can make in an informational interview is to ask for a job! At this stageof your job search, you are only in the business of seeking information about a particular careerpath or field of interest.HOW DO I PREPARE FOR AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW?Preparation is the key to a successful informational interview. You will get more out of it andyou will leave a very positive impression if you prepare in advance. First you will want toconduct research to gain important background information on specific career fields orcompanies. 1. Read a variety of occupational information through links on the Career Services website and other sites such as, 2. Research careers by reading first hand interviews with real people in a variety of professions. 3. Review professional journals associated with the field you are exploring. The Library staff at CTC can be great resources for these periodicals. You will also want to review the online job posting boards to learn about companies and hiring trends. 4. Use self-assessment inventories to investigate career choices. You can access FOCUS from the Career Services homepage. 5. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask during the interview. 6. Dress professionally and arrive on time for your informational interview. 5
  6. 6. QUESTIONS TO ASK IN AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW Think about what you hope to gain from the interview and tailor your questions accordingly. You may want to consider some of the questions listed below. ABOUT THE OCCUPATIONAL FIELD Tell me how you got started in this field. How did you prepare for your position you have now? What kind of skills and training are required for entry into this kind of work? What kind of experience is important to have to enter this field? What kinds of personal qualities are necessary to do this job well? ABOUT THE PRESENT JOB Describe how you spend your time during a typical day or week. What are some of the greatest challenges you face in your position? What are the greatest rewards? What experiences have you had that have been most helpful in learning about your field? Tell me about the hours and kind of work schedule you generally keep. What tends to be the average entry-level salary in your field?EMPLOYER INFORMATION Explain to me in greater detail what this company/organization does. What is the size of your company/unit/office? Are there plans for future growth—in what areas? Who are your chief competitors? How has the global economy effected your operations or goals? What type of on-the-job training does your company/organization offer?FUTURE CAREER PLANS Do you have some specific career goals in mind? If the work you do was eliminated, what different options might be open to you? What related fields might you explore? What kinds of employers hire people with your background? What is the employment outlook in your field?JOB HUNTING How do people find out about jobs in this field or organization? 6
  7. 7. If you were hiring someone today, what would you look for in an employee?ADVICE Given what you know about my background, how well suited am I for this type of work? What other skills or educational training might I need? What are some other related fields I should consider? If you were just starting out, what would you do differently to prepare for your position?REFERRALS Could you recommend any books or trade publications I should read? Given what you know about my interests, can you suggest other people who may offer me additional information? Would it be possible for me to use your name when contacting them?Add your own questions here.______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7
  8. 8. GETTING THE INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWA sample letter 980 S. Cobb Dr. Marietta, GA 30060 August 30, 2008Ms. Suzy BeckerVice President and ManagerABC CompanyMarietta, GA 30066Dear Ms. Becker,In my desire to find a good job fit for my skills and experience, I have researched severalcareer path options and industries where I think I could make a contribution. I will graduatethis quarter from Chattahoochee Technical College. I would like to speak with aprofessional working in the ……….field in order to learn firsthand what kinds of jobs areavailable.Your name was given to me by my instructor/Career Center. I am writing to you in the hopethat you will be able to assist me by either spending half an hour with me or by referring meto someone in the area.You may reach me at……….or via e-mail…………….. If you give me several convenient timeswhen I can reach you, I’ll return your call as soon as possible. I will also take the liberty ofcalling you within the week to see if we might speak.Thank you for your consideration.Sincerely,(your signature goes here)Your name typed here 8
  9. 9. GETTING AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW A sample telephone script Think about what you’d like to communicate to the person with whom you are seeking an informational interview. Then job down a brief script that will help you remain focused and clear when you speak with your contact person. Here’s a sample script to get you started! 1. Hello, my name is_________________. Have I reached you at a convenient time? 2. I am a _________________major at Chattahoochee Technical College and am participating in a Service Learning project at your organization. 3. I understand that you are quite knowledgeable about _______________ (career field, profession or industry). 4. I’m calling to see if I might arrange an informational interview with you to discuss ____________________(career field, profession or industry.) 5. Might you have half an hour sometime in the next week or so to meet with me? 6. If the contact agrees to see you, thank him/her and make sure you have the address, date and time of your meeting before you hang up the phone. You might also want to get their e-mail address so that you can confirm the appointment. 7. If the contact isn’t able to see you, don’t take it personally! Thank the person for considering your request, and ask if they might refer you to someone else. Good luck!NOTES ON INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWDate/time of interview:___________________________________________________________Name:_____________________________________Positon/title:_________________________Organization/Company:__________________________________________________________Phone:__________________________E-mail:________________________________________Thank-you letter sent:____________________________________________________________Notes: 1. Three things I learned from my interview 2. My next steps in thinking about this career will be 3. Are there other people I might contact who may be helpful in my information gathering?A sample thank you letter 9
  10. 10. DateNameTitleCompanyAddressDear_____________________.Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me on Thursday to discuss some of thecareer opportunities in the field of _____________________. It was so helpful to learn about__________________________ and I appreciated the interest you showed in my academic andfuture plans.As you suggested, I will contact ___________________ in the next week or so and arrange ameeting to discuss ____________________. I look forward to learning more about____________________________. Thank you for offering this additional opportunity.I will be in contact from time to time, to keep you posted on my career direction.Again, thank you for your assistance and time this week.Sincerely,(your signature)Your name typed 10