8.3   How to find people to interview

Finding people to interview

Tell everyone you come in contact with what you are doing- that you are exploring your options and researching the possibilities. Remember - it's both what you know and who you know. As you firm up your career focus, talk to people: Talk casually with people whenever and wherever you can. Be sure to explain clearly what you are interested in.   I have heard of people getting leads in the strangest places like: hot tubs, riding buses, at Greek food festivals, playing volleyball, and from family members at holiday dinners just by sharing their career interests. "I am exploring careers in financial planning."    After you get a name, call and say:  "I got your name from so and so, and I am exploring my options and so and so said you would be a good person to talk to."

On candidate I worked with was on a golf course waiting with a friend to be pared up with another twosome. (Evidently you have to be a foursome to golf...) He and his friend were pared up with a manager from Chevron who by the end of the golf game offered him a job!  Everyone always asks "what do you do?" You need to be prepared with a great answer:  "I am changing careers (or I have recently graduated) and I am researching careers in finance (or urban planning or whatever you determine the key words that trigger a good response are)."

Ask people you know:  Ask your contacts such as former professors, career coaches, friends, and relatives for the names of anyone they know who is in a company you are interested in or who is in a field you are pursuing. If they don't know any names of people, ask for the names of companies that are engaged in a specific activity that interests you.

Use Linkedin: If you have not already created a LinkedIn account, now is the time to get one going.  LinkedIn helps you connect with people in your field.  Start while you are in college and build a lifelong way of keeping track of your contacts.  As people grow and move you will always know where they are as long as they update their profile.  You will have access to their contacts and you can get a referral to a company through a friend!  Companies can also find you based on your profile.  Use your resume as a guide and keep it updated.  Your LinkedIn profile should match your resume very closely.

Local newspapers:  The local newspapers will frequently have published lists of local companies in various industries. The Business Journal publishes in markets across the country and your subscription includes the most fabulous books of lists and industry supplements for the markets where they publish.  They have lists with company data for every industry from engineering firms and construction firms to hospitals, consulting firms,  accounting firms,  manufacturers,  colleges and universities, private schools, software companies, high tech manufacturers,  and everything in between.  This is the best source of company lists across the US that I have ever found!

Local university career center:  Talk with the staff at the local university career center about companies that hire in your specific field of interest.  They can give you lists and tons of information about companies.  Some even post the information on their web sites.  This angle might take some resourcefulness on your part, as many university career centers are only open to their alumni and students.  I am a big believer in openness and transparency,  so at CSUS I keep all of my stuff visible on the College of Engineering and Computer Science site.

Contact professional associations for information and contacts.  Join associations associated with your profession and attend conventions for leads and information. You will also find job listings and recruiting ads in professional journals. You will also gain valuable information on trends in your field. What is hot and what is not. Most professional associations have web sites and send monthly journals with fabulous articles and jobs listings for their members.

Alumni club publications:  Use your alumni publication, club, or network to obtain names of individuals who graduated from the same school you graduated from with a similar area of study or career field of interest from whom you might gain information and leads.  Who knows, them might be hiring. Who better to know the quality of your background and education?

Periodicals and Resource Books:  Scan written material such as technical journals, newspapers, magazines, directories for articles on your area of interest, for company names or names of individuals doing things of interest.

Reference Librarians:  Ask your local reference librarian for any other reference sources for local companies in your area of interest.

If all else fails,  walk into the target company,  approach the secretary or receptionist and ask him/her to recommend someone with whom to speak. Make sure to explain that you are only seeking information, (not a job), about this career.  A random entry in the company "contact us" link has also yielded great results. This method has worked quite well for some people.

Whatever you do,  go out there an find people to interview!