Informational interview

One Question that will expand your Network

Try ONE simple question to expand your network:

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"Who else should I talk to?"

When you are sitting across the proverbial table with a new connection over the phone or with your favorite hot beverage at a coffee shop before you leave, ask this question!

In your brief chat, your new connection just learned about you - your goals, skills, how you want to grow, companies or positions of interest - so ask who else THEY know that you can learn from!

This way your network is ever-expanding with one simple question.

The Informational Interview: The Art of the Request

My career path isn't straight.

Back in the day, I was miserable in event planning and I had my sights set on higher education, specifically advising. I knew NOTHING about the field beside the results that populated from my Google search terms. How did I proceed?

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I emailed a COMPLETE STRANGER who was an academic advisor at a local university and asked her to lunch. I inquired about her career story and what I needed to do to get the job she had. And you know what? She HELPED me…over said lunch! She even gave me feedback on my written statement for my graduate school application (per her advice to apply to grad school)…A STRANGER!!

So, how do you request an informational interview? Let lunch (or coffee) lead the way.

- Be curious. Request to learn about their company and/or career story. Know a bit about the person to explain why you are asking for their time (flattery never hurts!).

- Be specific. Ask for 20-30-minutes of their time via phone or in-person. Include possible days/times as options.

- Be professional. Avoid grammar and spelling errors in your email request. Be conscientious and grateful for their time in advance.

Design your Network with Three Types of People

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You are the boss of your own network. Design it thoughtfully.

Whether you realize it or not, you are already part of a variety of systems. You may just be so embedded in them that you can’t see them. Think about people in your circles at work, socially, geographically, family, community, schools, church, etc.

These are your natural networks! While some circles are chosen for you based on your workplace or where you send your kid to school, others you can take ownership. 

Intentionally ADD people that ADD value.

Typically, a valuable network has these three types of people in it:

Connectors. People who have large networks themselves and know a lot of different people. Their natural matchmaking capabilities see opportunities for people around them.

Champions. People who want to see you succeed; cheerleaders that will speak your message without external motivation.

Experts. Natural teachers who have particular expertise. Experts are imperative to your network because they can supply you with the information you need.

Build and nurture your network now by offering value to those around you. Not just when you need something.

Consider: Which type are you? Who is most valuable to you?

Join a collaborative community of professionals who are intentional about nurturing their personal and professional growth. Oh, and access to free/discount services sweetens the deal too! 😉 Join here.



Informational Interview: Make the Ask

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Necco's candy conversation hearts are unavailable this February. Don’t worry! I'll help you bridge the conversation from awkward to intentional with a free conversation card for informational interviews. 

The informational interview is the secret to a successful job search. Job search experts and resume writers alike (myself included) encourage job seekers to connect over coffee or over the phone with people who are in the job they want or working at a company of interest. How do you make it happen?

▶︎ LinkedIn request + a note

▶︎ Personal email

▶︎ In-person ask

▶︎ Phone call 

 Do you have to actually know the person? No, but do provide context to why you want to meet up and be specific in your ask. Provide a couple days/times for the conversation. Be specific on when you will follow-up to your initial request, too.

 Once you've booked a meeting, then what? What do ask? How do you make the most of both of your time? I'll hook you up this Valentine's day with a conversation card.  Sign up to receive it in your inbox free next week.

Close the Gap: Gain Confidence for your Career Leap

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Career confidence. Do you have it? Does it require a leap of faith or steady steps forward?

Whether it is pursuing advancement or a leap in another direction, you’ll need to gather your courage.

Teeth gritted, dirt and rock under your feet, bent knees, arms back and then the lean forward...

To spring up with confidence you’ll need to take intentional steps before a BIG jump.

If you are looking to create forward momentum in an upcoming career change, consider these small, brave steps before you leap:

+ Volunteer (or job shadow). This sage advice is not just for college students. If you are looking to switch industries, put your boots on the ground by shadowing the position you want so you can live a day in the life. After, reflect on the fit particularly how it aligns with your giftings and values.

+ Talk to people. Is there someone living out your dream gig right now? Talk to them! Ask them how they got there and what tips they may have for you. Then ask who else they recommend you talk to! This way your conversation continues with new perspectives.

+ Rally a community. Surround yourself with wise friends, colleagues and mentors as you consider a change. Whether you call it your personal tribe or board of directors, seek others’ advice for a 360 view.

You will have more confidence in your career leap because you’ve done the work to close the gap of the unknown. Then, JUMP!

If you you want to make a change, but are unsure of your career direction nail down your job target with these free DIY tips.

Hide-and-Seek: Pursue Networking Daily

We hide until it is time to seek.

Isn’t that true? Most of us want to network professionally when we seek something to gain - new job, new client, new business. If we aren’t after something, we usually choose to hole up in our comfort zone just like I want to do during Midwest winters.

I was reminded of the hiding and seeking paradox when my husband came home for lunch this week. Lunch led to chatting with our two-year-old son, which then, of course, led to a good-old-fashioned game of hide-and-seek.

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And it got me thinking of how our natural state is to hide - hide behind the scroll of <insert your favorite social media> and stay in our comfortable social and professional circles UNTIL it is time to pursue something new.

What small, regular habits can we form to ‘seek’ regularly? And by that I mean build meaningful relationships within our professional network not just in seasons of a job search or a push for new clients.

Here a few of my ideas:

💡 Regularly interact with your network. Know the professionals that make up your network online and in-person. It’s as easy as commenting on another’s LinkedIn post to writing a long-form post or article of your own to create discussion. Day-to-day, go to lunch with colleagues instead of eating at your desk.

💡 Ask questions and listen. This could be as brief as actually listening to the answer after the ‘How are you?’ in the hallway at work or saying yes to coffee with those you know and even those you don’t know.

💡 Be a connector. Know people’s needs so well that you can play matchmaker within your own network. Connect those that need each other!

Hope is Not a Job Search Strategy

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In the job search feeling hopeful is important, but it isn’t a strategy.

Choose five things to do each day that will get you to your new gig. Write this short to-do list on a notecard.

Small habits create big results over time.

What activities could be on your notecard?

➜ Create/share industry-related content on your LinkedIn profile.

➜ Tailor your resume and cover letter for a job posting of interest.

➜ Grow your LinkedIn network with intentional connections.

➜ Set up an informational interview with a new connection to be a student of their career path and what they do!

➜ Add one company to your target company list and follow the company on socialmedia.

Get to it! You got this!

Hungry for your dream job? Grab lunch!

Hungry for the job you want but just don't know how to get there?

I've been there.

My career path isn't straight. In fact, the twists of new interests and the turns of new seasons of life directed, and still do direct, my course.

Back in the day, I was miserable in event planning and I had my sights set on higher education, specifically academic and career advising. I knew NOTHING about the field besides the results that populated from my Google search terms. How did I proceed?

I crossed my fingers and emailed a COMPLETE STRANGER who was an academic advisor at a local university and asked her how she got there. I inquired about what I needed to do to get the job she had. I asked her to lunch.

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And you know what? She HELPED me…over said lunch! She even gave me feedback on my written statement for my graduate school application (per her advice to apply to grad school)…A STRANGER!!

Who do you need you to talk to? Let lunch lead the way.

Be a student of those that are in positions that pique your interest. Request new connections on LinkedIn. Meet new people over coffee. Learn from their story…and then start writing your own!

Need more tips to refine your job target? Download my free tip sheet here.