Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but lunch is the most beneficial meal for your career. In the professional world, talk over a mid-day meal often means business. You can even seize the lunchtime opportunity to advance your job search.
You heard right. Scheduling a lunch is a great way to get the inside scoop about your favorite company, potential job leads, or some job search advice. Scoring some one-on-one time with a seasoned professional from a big company is not a direct guarantee to a job (nor will it always result in a job interview), but it is a great way to make a potential career connection, make a lasting impression, and possibly get some clarity and direction for your job search.
So how can you request a lunch meet up? Here are three steps for making it happen:
Find a Connection. If you have your target company in mind, try finding any mutual connections you have with an employee and ask for an introduction. If you find yourself not having any insider connections, try utilizing tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, social job search apps, or your alumni network. You’ll want to be selective about which employee you approach. Your best bet is to meet someone at, or just above, your career level with a similar professional experience and background. Be sure they have both the time and the knowledge to help you out.
Make Your Approach. Email is the preferred method, as phone calls are unexpected and distracting. In the email, tell a little bit about yourself and your career interests. Just a compelling line or two is all you need. Sometimes just asking for advice and letting them know that you have some questions to which you would like to discuss their thoughts (you can even include a few) is all you need. Then, ask if they are available for 20 to 30 minutes to talk. Pick a subject that is relevant to you both. Because you’re asking for their time, be respectful if they cannot make it happen in person. If they can, let them take the lead about when and where a meeting can take place.
Be prepared. Note that this does not mean to bring several copies of your resume hoping to turn it into a job interview. Rather than looking to land a specific job, you want to learn about what the person knows. Research the person you’re meeting, the company, and the industry. You’ll want to lead the conversation with questions to find out about things that could help you in your job hunt, like the job market in your area, how they advanced their career, or relevant contacts he or she might suggest you contact.
In taking the time to do this, you’ll be able to get information and advice that you won’t be able to find online and will help guide your job search. Be sure to show gratitude and thanks every step of the way. In the end, meeting for lunch is a simple networking strategy that in one hour could get you further along in your job search than looking at an online job board for weeks on end.
What do you think? Have you gone to informational interviews over lunch? What other tips can you share?
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