Friday, March 25, 2011

Q: I'm not interviewing for a specific position but I reached out to a few individuals, mostly to network and find out more about what they do specifically/more about their field. But I'm technically not supposed to ask them for a job so it's kind of tough.

A: Ahh, okay. So, I'm sure you'll ask questions like "what advice do you have for a college graduate in this field looking for a job right now" ? But you'll also want to ask them how they got their job or how they got started in their field. Nine times out of 10 their answer will start out: "well, I had this friend who worked there..."

Ask if the company they work for (or companies like it) only hire people who have interned there before. Ask if places will let you work on a freelance or temp basis to get your foot in the door. Ask if it's cool in that industry (or at that company) to send a resume and cover letter even if there isn't a job opening currently. Some companies will just throw incoming resumes in the trash if there are no current open positions or if they are in the middle of a hiring freeze.

And this is the most important question: Ask which associations people in that field belong to - ask if you can join as a student member for now. And honestly, this will be your best shot at hooking yourself up with a job.

Can you meet any of these people in their office at work? You might get lucky and they could introduce you to the HR person - that would be stellar. But not all industries are the same. Looking for a job in a chemistry lab is totally different from looking for a job in the art auction world.

In artist-related fields, it gets very um, intimate. For these jobs, you'll want to ask whose shoes you'll have to shine or car you'll have to wash. Ask if any of them need babysitters or dog walkers. This industry is more personal than professional. Find out where they get their hair done or have their coffee. Sheesh. Good luck! And ask if you can use their name as a reference in case you follow up on any of their contacts.

Also try to be courteous of their time. Have your cell phone on the table so you can discretely glance at the time every now and then. If you're not good at being discrete, just let them know you're trying to keep it short to respect their time (even if they say "take all the time you need". Don't). It's very nice of them to meet with you. Send them a follow up email thanking them a couple weeks later.

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