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  1. Great article! I love the emphasize on building relationships rather than the result of simply using someone for a job. I am in the job search now and feel like I’m hitting a dead end being that I’m in a new city with a very small & limited network so I’ve started cold-emailing people too. My 1st one got a response! I did this before I read this article & I was surprised to see that I did a lot of what you suggested when reaching out. But this article has given me even more insight into how to approach informational interviews.
    Thank you!

      • Thanks Rebecca!
        After a week of sending more emails I have a couple of questions. I’m in a new city where I don’t know anyone so I have to go out cold to start a network. The way that I’m finding these organizations/people by simple searches so I have no other connections. I read in the other comments your suggestion on what to include in the subject line if you don’t know the person but what should I put in this case where I have no connection, just my interest in the org/person, as a baseline?

        Also, I’ve gotten an initial response from an org saying that another staff member will be in touch to setup the interview. It’s been a week now and I haven’t heard back. Is it appropriate for me to followup with an email for that specific person? or would it be too pushy?

        Thanks for any advice/suggestions you can give!


        • Hi Carissa,
          I’ll answer your questions in reverse:
          – Yes, if it’s been more than a week, feel free to send another email
          – Subject lines (and first sentences) can be hard. Step 1: Do your best to just demonstrate that you’re human and not spam 🙂 and Step 2: throw in the keywords. Ex “Informational Interview inquiry about your nonprofit experience”

          Keep in mind that in general, people really enjoy sharing their personal stories – or at least that’s been my experience. So even though you might not have a shared connection, if you’re willing to be patient and flexible, they will probably respond to a thoughtfully written email asking about their personal career experience.

          Good luck!

  2. Dear Rebecca,

    Thank you for sharing your story and tips. It is very helpful and encouraging. Thank you again.
    Best regards,

  3. Rebecca, very good article. Great advice and thoughtfully written. Extremely useful information especially for a career changers / transitioners. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Great information and very to the point!
    But what I am most thankful for is you helped me identify what I was good at. just like you I never identified it as one of my main strengths, but I love meeting new people and having these conversations!
    Now I have to check your blog!

  5. Hi Rebecca,
    Thanks for the informative article. My main question for you is–what subject line do you use in your initial email request? 🙂 That seems like the trickiest bit, would love your take.

    Thank you!

    • Jen, awesome question! This is hard, especially when forced to be concise! I try to be as specific as possible. For example, when I sent an email to someone who was a fellow alum of my university, I mentioned the name of the university in the subject line (“Inquiry from a fellow ____ grad”). If you’re connected to someone you don’t know but you have a shared connection (whether a friend, institution, or club), mention that keyword in the subject line for sure!

      If you don’t have a direct connection, perhaps use how you learned of them in your subject line (“Thanks for the great Idealist article” or “Congrats on your recent NYTimes mention”).

      One good keyword that gives context to your email should get your email opened. If you don’t get a response, try a different subject line when you follow up.

  6. I also am in the job search and I find this extremely helpful! It’s been a year since I graduated from college with some internship experience not related to what I want to do… I feel like I’m doing everything right, working part-time at least, volunteering weekly, building up my skills, tailoring resumes and cover letters, but I haven’t gotten ANY leads yet. I keep hearing that I should do informational interviews but I never really understood how I’d go about it without already having connections. But there you go!

  7. This article was so helpful. I have done a lot of reading on information interview. This is by far my favorite article on the subject.

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  10. I am all for informational interviewing. One of the challenges and dilemmas I have encountered which gets to me is how I have gone out of my way to conduct an informational interview with 3 different professionals before. They conducted the info interviews nicely and we stayed in touch afterwards with good mutual conversation, Unfortunately, one lady stopped responding to my emails in 2011 just like that when she would always reply before and even after I calling and emailing wondering what she is up to I would never hear back. This other lady doesn’t respond to me anymore even as we’re connected on FB and has shared few resources with support to me before. And the same goes with the 3rd lady who did an info interview with me in 2010. I have usually gone out of my way to send the ladies relevant articles and offered to help, but not been responded back to. I wonder why it has to be like this when everything went well from the start and we would all have it good, but suddenly the other party for no reason doesn’t follow up? Plus, some other connections I have made have been good about keeping up, but the 3 seasoned professionals who I did an info interview with sadly don’t respond back as it would be imagined they would. This is frustrating and affects trust in spending energy with others. I wish there would be negative outcomes unexpectedly from positive intent created at the beginning. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!

  11. Hi Rebecca,
    Thank you for posting this article. I found it very helpful. I’m recently trying to re-enter the workforce after staying home with my child (although I managed a property) and I’ve definitely been taking the information interview approach. Your article had a lot of great tips and I will keep these in mind when I get to my next informational interview. Thanks Again! Jessica

    • Rebecca,

      What if your contact (cold call), doesn’t respond. Do you try to connect a second time? If there’s no response then, what would you do?

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  18. What tips can you give for those of us who are perhaps quite anxious about connecting with people they don’t know? Like others, I’m new in the city/industry and don’t know anyone. I’ve had some success in posting in Linkedin Groups about how to get information about the industry I’m looking into/have had some great tips, but the issue I’m finding is they are all “go on informational interviews” “get in contact with X organisation” without any sort of tips on how to actually go about that.

    As someone whose spent the three and half years in Academia which is very isolating, I’m lacking those core social skills and increasingly anxious about the prospect of cold calling.

    Do you have any links or resources that outline in perhaps detail (or even in a formulaic pattern) on how to go about informational interviewing?

    • Hi Andrea, I would like to give you some encouragement here first. Of cause your question might need to be answered by people who are more experienced and sophisticated. I am centainly not in such a position to give you any “cut to the chase” guidance. As a english as second language speaker, trust me, I am more nervous to do such thing than you! If I can do it, you definitely can do much better than me! Good luck to all of us!

  19. Hi Rebecca, I am in the exactly same situation of your back then right now! Your article is really inspiring. I totally can apply some of your tips in my practice. Thank you!

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing this! I needed the confidence booster and to think that I was at that point where I actually said, “I just need to make money…” which is true but again, it didn’t mean that I had to give up on my career aspiration or the pursuit of the infinite satisfaction that lies beneath finding my true calling, my dream career. Thank you so much!

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