We’ve talked about making connections, joining groups, and attending networking events like career fairs. Next, let’s take a closer look at some specific networking strategies, namely cold calling and informational interviews.
Cold Calling & Emailing
Cold calling is the practice of contacting potential employers directly, without any prior contact, to find out about potential opportunities. Cold calling is a great complement to your other career development activities, like applying to posted jobs and networking.
If you cannot reach your contact person by phone, try sending them a cold email:
- Identify the right person to contact and locate their email address on the company web site or directory, on their LinkedIn profile, or by calling the organization directly and asking for it
- Compose your email
- Send your email
- After one week, follow up with a short email if you haven’t received a response
When composing your email, make sure to address the following points:
- Address the employer by name along with their preferred title.
- Introduce yourself using your full name
- Tell them where you got their name and email address
- Explain that you are looking for a new position
- State why you are interested in their company
- Say you would appreciate any advice or information regarding positions and hiring within their company
An informational interview is a conversation with someone who works in your field of interest. It can be conducted in person, virtually, or by phone. The goal is to get current information that can help you better express yourself in applications and interviews and make informed career choices. An informational interview is not about asking for a job. Instead, it is a way to learn more by tapping into someone else’s experience.
Conducting informational interviews will help you:
- Learn more about the career paths that interest you
- Gather valuable, industry-specific information
- Gain insider tips on the education, skills and experience needed in your target career
- Market yourself during job searches
- Build contacts in your target industry or workplace
Asking and preparing for an informational interview
You must ask for informational interviews and you are often asking someone you don’t know personally. Generally, people are willing to help and will often see it as a compliment to be asked to talk about their expertise. Just be polite and professional and do not take up too much of their time. Aim to ask for no more than 20 minutes of the person’s time for an informational interview.
When asking for an informational interview, you’ll want to keep things succinct (no more than 30 seconds if you were to ask over the phone). After introducing yourself and establishing your connection to them, the idea is to briefly summarize your background and career interests as they relate to the information you think the person can provide, followed by briefly stating your request for a conversation.
Here is a sample email request for an informational interview:
Hello, my name is Dale Winters. I recently spoke with Li Wang and she recommended I reach out to you for information about careers in elder population psychology.
I’m currently studying psychology at Trent University and I’m interested in clinical psychology and assessment. I’m exploring the possibility of pursuing work with senior populations and I’m curious about various career paths in both research and clinical work.
I’m looking for some advice on choosing a career focus in psychology and what I might start doing now to improve my opportunities in the future. I’m interested in hearing about your experiences within the field and any perspectives you’ve developed.
I understand that private practice is very busy and I see that your hours vary throughout the week. I’m wondering if you might be able to find time to have a conversation either over the phone, by Zoom, or in-person in the next 2-3 weeks. If you are able, please provide a few times that work best for you as I should be able to arrange my schedule to accommodate it. Thank you for your time and I look forward to the possibility of hearing from you.
- Lightbulb via Careerspace