Blog

Adulting 101: how informational interviews and a polished resume can help you stand out from the crowd

By: Sam Metcalf

I’ll never forget the spring semester of my senior year in college. It brings everyone a lot of stress. Finding a new job, somewhere to live, not having a meal plan anymore – all of it was hard for me. I said to myself over and over again “I wish there was a welcome weekend for post-grad so I could figure out what I was doing.” A lot of that doubt came from the fact that I didn’t have a job lined up after graduation. Graduation day crept up faster and faster, and my confidence levels fell lower and lower after each rejection email I received. I had great internship opportunities, I was involved on my campus, I had good grades. I really couldn’t figure out why someone wouldn’t hire me.

Luckily, my Aunt Pam, one of my biggest mentors and supporters, is an executive coach. I met with her to chat about my frustrations with this process and how hard it was for me to find a job. That’s when she introduced me to informational interviewing. A concept I had never heard of, but helped me land my first job. Note: I found out I got said job the day before I graduated! It will all come together – I promise you.

With that being said, I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to nail your informational interviews and make your resume stand out. I’m not an expert by any means, these were just things that really helped me along the way.

Informational Interviewing

We all know that networking can be exhausting. Going to a room full of strangers all trying to meet everyone else in the room is no bueno. Personal opinion. Anyways, if you find yourself agreeing with that, informational interviews can be an amazing solution! My Aunt Pam gave me this tip my senior year of college, and it 1) was the best tip I received as a graduating senior, and 2) helped me land my first post-graduate job!

How to start preparing for informational interviews:

  • Make a list of organizations! This is your “target organizations” list. Start by thinking of industries you think you’d enjoy working in ­– sports management, tourism, retail, government, IT, etc. Aim for 3-5 industries with 3-6 companies listed under each one. This does require a little bit of effort and maybe even some homework.
  • Tap into your personal network. Reach out to previous or current bosses, coaches, professors, and mentors to ask for 30 minutes of their time. You’ll want to formally type out your target organizations list and attach it to this email! I use the same heading that’s on my resume and cover letter just to stay consistent.
  • Meet at their office: A great way to learn more about job spaces is to go to them! If you get lucky and get an interview at this company down the road, you’ll be familiar with the space going into things.

 

In an informational interview:

  • Let them get to know you: Tell them hobbies you have, activities you are involved with, your career goals, passions, etc. This will help frame the entire conversation.
  • Discuss your target organization list together: Ask them if they know of other people who have worked with these companies and if their experience was positive or negative. After one of these interviews, you may be able to cross 2-3 organizations off of your list if they don’t match with your values and career goals.
  • Ask them about themselves: Their career history, their interests, their take on industry trends, etc. You have their undivided attention, so use it wisely! If you get nervous or anxious talking to strangers, compile a strong list of open-ended questions to take with you. Open-ended questions = conversation.
  • Take notes: One conversation I always made a point to have was about the target lits in general. Are these good companies to work for? Do you know positive or negative things about any company listed? You’d be surprised what you’ll learn! Jot these things down, and make sure to cross off a company if it doesn’t end up matching your personal values.
  • You’re not here to get a job: Going into an informational interview with the hopes that you leave with a job lead will only lead to disappointment. It’s just a conversation – for you to know them, and for them to know you. Be yourself, show your personality, laugh, and really engage with the person you’re chatting with.

 

After an informational interview:

  • Give them your thanks: Most people you’re chatting with will be on company time. After an informational interview, I would send a $5 Starbucks card through the app to express my gratitude. A quick “Thanks for your time today! Your next cup of coffee is on me” will really help make a lasting impact

 

Resume Tips

  • There’s less room for interpretation with numbers than with words. Use successful metrics when discussing a job duty or project you’re discussing on your resume.
    • "I wrote e-mail campaigns" (Weak)
    • "Crafted ten monthly e-mail campaigns to an audience of 1,582" (Stronger)
  • Get rid of your objective statement. You’re applying for a job – someone reading your resume knows what your objective is!
  • If you’re a recent grad, and you have a GPA that you’re proud of, by all means list the GPA. If you have a GPA that you aren’t so proud of, then don’t list it! Employers who want that information will give you an advanced heads-up if they want an official transcript.
  • I always avoid the use of pronouns to be more descriptive.
    • “I strengthened their web traffic.” (Weak)
    • “Grew Company A’s web traffic by 15% over a two-month period.” (Stronger)
  • Don’t list the same skill twice! If you had three internships that you’re listing on your resume, if you used InDesign in all three jobs, only list it under one position. This is the first chance you have to showcase how broad your skillset is!
  • Always, always, always send your resume and cover letter as a PDF!

 

I hope this was helpful for you! I know these are things I wish I would’ve learned earlier on. Make sure with the time you do have left in undergrad that you’re challenging yourself, taking the hard classes in your major, and taking classes with the tough professors. That’s where you’ll learn the most. Your experiences in this field are far more important than your GPA. If you need help preparing a target organizations list, fine tuning your resume, or preparing for an interview, I’m happy to help. Let’s chat – [email protected]

Return to list

0 Comments