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For those people who have never heard about informational interviews I am posting a link to this article (I am not affiliated / not endorsing "Cheeky"):

https://cheekyscientist.com/what-i-learned-by-blowing-my-first-informational-interview/


I had following questions:

  • How to send a polite request for an informational interview in LinkedIn?

  • How are informational interviews conducted these days?

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  • 1
    A lot of background, and a lot of questions too, some being opinion-based IMO. Do you mind narrowing this down and focus on one goal?
    – OldPadawan
    Nov 25, 2022 at 5:54
  • 1
    @OldPadawan I'd say the core question is: Is cold-calling random people on LinkedIn likely to yield an "informational interview" (as defined by the OP)? If the answer to that is "yes", OP can then ask those follow-up questions on how exactly to do it.
    – TooTea
    Nov 25, 2022 at 7:44
  • Care to explain why you don't have any networking opportunities? Presumably, you are/were affiliated with an university or a research institute, which would mean you should know loads of former colleagues and students who work in the industry now. Or are you running a one-person research shop of your own somewhere out in the woods? Additionally, at what stage of your career are you? (PhD student? postdoc?)
    – TooTea
    Nov 25, 2022 at 7:49
  • @TooTea I only invite people that I already know. There are people collecting 100s of contacts; must people don't.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 25, 2022 at 10:14

7 Answers 7

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The techniques below helped me when I was looking. I didn't invent them, I learned them from job coaches.

Start with people you already know. Schedule an informational interview for 20 minutes. Ask them about their job, their company, etc. and express what you are thinking of doing in the future. Spend most of the time listening.

If they happen to mention a person that could be helpful, ask if they would make an introduction. Then repeat the process with the new person. If they mention a company, ask who they know there, and again, ask them to introduce you. Don't ask whether they know anyone - that is a Yes/No question and for most people the default answer is "No". Ask who they know. It triggers a different part of the brain.

This is the general format of an informational interview. You ask the person about their job and company. You are slowly growing a network of people who have a positive opinion and might recommend you if an opening comes up. You are also learning about new companies and the roles within them.

As to LinkedIn, I would search for 2 things:

  1. People that used to work at my company - they've gone somewhere and might be able to help you.
  2. Job titles that fit what I am looking for. Within LinkedIn, I looked for people with the job I wanted. If they are a 3rd degree contact, they are less useful. But a 1st degree contact is someone you know and a 2nd degree contact is someone that knows someone you know. At this point, get off LinkedIn and get on the phone or email and contact them directly. Then you follow the steps for informational interviews. (For 2nd degree contacts, ask the 1st degree contact to make an introduction.)

That's a rough sketch that several people I know used that seemed to help in their job search.

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Go on LinkedIn, put up your job profile (look at what others have been doing) and indicate that you are looking for a new position. There are plenty of recruiting companies that are going through LinkedIn when they need to fill a job opening.

Otherwise, there are plenty of websites offering jobs (don’t know which would be in Canada, only know the UK market), that you can use to find for job openings and apply. #1 factor to getting a job is applying.

And find someone who has done this before and can produce a good CV for you. It makes a huge difference. There are also professional CV writers.

PS. Nobody will give you an "informational interview". You apply for a job, you may get an interview, and that interview is about you getting the job or not. Knowing someone in the company may help, but knowing someone through LinkedIn doesn't. Linkedin is purely to get your name out.

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  • And many companies have a recruitment section on their website. So visit the sites of all the relevant companies you can think of, and see what jobs are on offer.
    – Simon B
    Nov 25, 2022 at 14:26
  • 3
    Informational Interviews are very much a thing and people will accept informational interviews. They're not so much about getting a job as much as they're for a person to determine what a particular job/role is all about.
    – zmike
    Nov 25, 2022 at 17:57
  • I got an informational interview from a person in a top-1 company. All I had to do was find someone active on linkedin and ask. I got two more after I applied - it's an optional part of their process.
    – Therac
    Nov 25, 2022 at 18:41
  • You can get informational interviews, but it depends how you ask. Nov 26, 2022 at 3:51
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First off, what is LinkedIn and what is it good for? (In my opinion) LinkedIn is a self-maintained directory of businesspeople. It is (reported to be) making most of its money by selling access to that directory information to salespeople and recruiters. Right now, LinkedIn has been sending me email after email trying to get me to take a course or take some other actions "to help me find my next job." In short, my experience is that it wants to package me up and sell me to a recruiter.

I have heard many a pitch to use LinkedIn for networking. The person I knew who pushed that the hardest was unable to use the thousands of connections he had to make enough sales to stay in business and he shut down his business and got a job.

Electronic networking is not the same as face-to-face networking. It can augment f2f but can't replace it. Currently, in a large city, f2f networking is far more productive than any electronic networking, LinkedIn or other.

You don't want salespeople contacting you. Recruiters want someone who fits a specific profile, has specific skills, and is able to be placed in a job without any training. You want to know how to change careers. That is not what a recruiter wants to hear.

At this point, it sounds like what you need is to find and hire a career coach who can guide you in your life change. That is something that you can use LinkedIn to find. Trying to use LinkedIn to find someone who can do that coaching for free (which is what your questions sound like) is likely to be a futile effort.

Eventually, you may need to take a leap and physically move to a new place in order to start a job search. Once in a place where face-to-face networking can be done, you can use such to help find the job you want.

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How to send a polite request for an informational interviews in LinkedIn?

I have never heard of "informational interviews" in my entire career in the IT industry. Not from my managers, and coworkers. Not in a practical way.

Many IT jobs on LinkedIn have more than 50 applicants per job. So, the recruiters won't be able to talk to all 50 candidates. They can only contact a few candidates who are good fits.

If you contact the recruiters or managers first, they will ignore you. But, if you are a good fit for the job that you apply for, they will contact you.

Here is how it works in the private sector:

You apply for a job. If the company likes your profile, they will interview you. If they don't think you are a good fit, they won't bother to contact you at all.

How are informational interviews conducted these days?

If you go to a job fair, where many companies send their employees to talk to potential applicants about their companies, then you may be able to ask these employees questions about the jobs, the products, and the companies. But, I am not sure if these are identical to "informational interviews".

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My experience of LinkedIn is that for roles that are very social/extroverted (Sales, Marketing etc.) where a premium is placed on networking, then it can be rather lucrative to have a good LI following and people you can connect with.

With the more introverted/anti-social areas (Like Sysadmins) then, it's less so.

Every once in a while I'll be contacted by some overseas company rep that realistically wants to have local hands/feet in a given area and they give me a sales pitch - I tell them my hourly rate and then the conversation stops (because the figure I'm giving them is large enough that it's unlikely to be accepted, but still within the realms of possibility...).

It really would depend on what was sent to me - if it felt like a generic copy-pasta spiel that was sent carelessly, then I'd straight delete and ignore it.

However, if I received a well written communication, where it was clear the individual had done their research and read my profile etc. Then I'd be more inclined to consider it.

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Connect.

LinkedIn is a network. Connect with people in similar roles, people you'd like to know, people that work in companies you like, people you just have some interest in. Asking to connect is free and there's no penalty for being denied.

LinkedIn is extremely useful for people in high global demand roles. That's mostly developers. They'll get recruiter attention no matter what.

Getting a job out of LinkedIn takes concentrated effort for people in less-demanded roles. However, it lets you connect with exactly who you want to connect with. Filter by role and company.

Live connections are closer than LinkedIn, but it can also serve as a gateway to live events and live connections.

My experience is multiple job offers through LinkedIn and one that I've accepted. I'm in a medium-demand role (tech executive), which is rich in live networking opportunities, but LinkedIn is a lot more targeted, and the right match is very narrow.

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The best way to get an interview for a job, is to apply for that job. The best way to apply for a job is to put together both a resume and a LI profile (yes, both, although they can be copies of each other, you don't need to have different info on each one) and go through job boards and apply. The second best way to apply for a job is to put up a LI profile and to wait for recruiters to reach out to you when they want to fill roles, but that's not under your control.

Personally speaking, I've had much better luck applying to jobs posted on LinkedIn than to jobs posted on, for example, Indeed. So I would start there. Prepare a LI profile and a resume (some companies ask for a resume even after you've given them your LI profile, it's dumb and I don't know why but it happens more often than not), go through the LI job postings in the domain you want to work in, and click "apply".

I'm not sure what you want from an "informational interview". You're asking for someone's time, so you need to explain why giving you their time is valuable to them. You're the one who wants the job, but you're the one asking for them to do something for you. That's not going to be productive. Most companies have a ton of applicants, and you cold-calling them to get an interview isn't going to push you up the line. If they take your call (or answer your email/message) at all, it's going to be "please apply on our website" and that's it.

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  • "I've had much better luck applying to jobs posted on LinkedIn". I agreed that LinkedIn has the best way to organize and display essential info about jobs and the companies compared to other websites. Nov 27, 2022 at 20:58

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