September 18, 2013
When I endorse informational interviewing as a proven job search tactic, I typically receive negative feedback from students. “I don’t need information, I need a job!” Point well taken, but hear me out. Informational interviewing is one of several tools in your job search toolbox. You lower your chances of finding a job if you only engage in the “point-and-click” job search techniques. Sure, you might find a job using Symplicity, Craigslist, or a bar association web site, but you’ll have a much more fulfilling and interesting job search experience if you actually talk to lawyers about the work that they do and solicit their advice. Since so much of hiring is based upon relationships (and you really can’t build effective relationships sitting behind a computer monitor), you should conduct informational interviews on a regular basis.
Here’s two ways to get started:
- Visit your career services office and ask for help; try to be specific about your parameters. What cities or towns interest you the most? What practice areas appeal to you? Your career services office ought to have the names of graduates who are willing to be contacted to help you get you started.
- Your career services office also carries an information-packed pamphlet, “The How-To’s of Informational Interviewing” (NALP) that offers step-by-step guidance.
One informational interview will not translate magically into a job offer. I wish I could promise you that, but I can’t. What I can promise you is that every one-on-one meeting you have will add to your store of knowledge and broaden your network.
This is a numbers a game, plain and simple. If you’re a first year student reading this, think about it this way: Just one informational interview a month beginning your first month of law school will translate into 36 networking contacts by the end of law school. You’ll hit many dead ends, but some of those 36 lawyers may turn out to be good connections for you and may, in fact, lead you to your next job offer.