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If you're a stay-at-home mom considering a return to the workforce, this blog is your companion every step of the way - from discerning your career direction to preparing your application and addressing your resume gap, this is the perfect place to start.

The Secret to Unlocking the Hidden Job Market: Informational Interviews Explained

networking Aug 08, 2023
women meeting for informational interview coffee

Often when we think about job searching, we think about perusing various job search sites, checking company websites, and signing up for email alerts when jobs of interest become available.  While those activities are important parts of the overall search process - they may not be the quickest (or most efficient) path to land a job and here’s why... according to Forbes, “estimates show between 70% and 80% of all jobs are never posted.” This means that there are potentially hundreds of great-fitting jobs out there that you’ll never see. 

But wait – don’t get discouraged! In this week’s blog, we’re explaining one critical step you can take to unlock these hidden jobs: securing informational interviews. Informational interviews are a vital part of the job search process. And, in addition to helping you find out about new jobs, they can unlock another job-search superpower: a referral from a current employee which can help your application stand out in a competitive applicant pool.  

So let’s dig in – below we’re sharing the benefits and key strategies to get informational interviews scheduled on your calendar ASAP! 

What is an informational interview? 

An informational interview is an informal conversation with someone to learn about their career path, current or past positions, and/or companies where they’ve worked.  These conversations often lead to insights that can help job seekers focus their career goals, become aware of new opportunities, and build their network in an authentic way. 

How do informational interviews benefit stay-at-home moms? 

  1. Gain new information to help you evaluate which industries, companies, and jobs might be the best fit after your career break. You may learn about a new company or job focus that’s a great fit for your skills and interests.  Additionally, informational interviews provide a great outlet to learn about a company’s culture so you can decide if it’s the right fit for you and your family.  
  2. Increase your chances of learning about jobs that aren’t posted online.  There are so many positions that are never posted that informational interviews can diversify your search drastically.  In these conversations you can uncover open roles that haven’t been posted, or roles that will become available in the near future. And, because these jobs aren’t posted broadly, they may have smaller applicant pools and therefore can be less competitive than other jobs that are posted publicly. 
  3. Secure an internal referral for a job.  A great informational interview can lead the person you’re speaking with to ask “how can I help” or offer “I’d be happy to refer you for one of our open positions”.  This can really strengthen your overall application and - in some cases - make you a more competitive candidate.  In addition, many companies have employee referral programs that offer current employees a bonus if they recommend a candidate that is hired for a position, so it can be mutually beneficial. 
  4. Build your professional network.  These conversations and connections can lead to mutually beneficial future opportunities as you both move forward with your careers.  Some people in your network may also be incredible mentors for you as you grow and learn.  A strong network of genuine connections is an incredible asset in life and work! 

What are the best strategies for scheduling informational interviews? 

Informational interviews can be scheduled with people that you know, people who have been introduced to you through a mutual acquaintance, or people that you have no prior relationship with.  Each of these scenarios will be a bit different but the overall ask is the same – to meet over the phone or in person to learn more about their career path, current or past positions, and/or companies where they've worked.  Here are some tips for successfully requesting an informational interview. 

  1. Reach out to family and friends and let them know you’re interested in connecting with people in a certain industry as you consider your return to the workforce.  You never know who may be in your extended network so asking for warm introductions is a great first step – it's always easier to schedule an informational interview with an introduction if you don’t know the person directly. 
  2. Use LinkedIn to search for people that you’d like to contact and send them a personal message to introduce yourself and ask if they’d be willing to connect for a brief coffee or phone call. If you have a mutual connection, you can ask them for a warm introduction. 
  3. Use the power of your alumni network if you attended college.  Alumni typically want to help support other alumni and you can use your common experience at your alma mater as a natural talking point in your introduction.  University alumni offices typically coordinate events for alumni, which is a great way to connect with new people. You can also search for alumni in your industry on LinkedIn and reach out directly via message. 
  4. Keep your message brief and be clear about what you’re asking.  In your outreach, be sure to mention a little bit about yourself, what you’re requesting and why you’re interested in learning more about them and their career journey. 
  5. Be considerate as you’re requesting someone’s time and acknowledge that life is busy but you’d be grateful for an opportunity to connect - if only for 15-20 minutes.   

Want more actionable tips to support your job search? Sign up for our newsletter below.  And as always, we are here to help – if you have a question, submit it through the Career Concierge form below and we will follow up with you directly!      


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