Find the Right Person, Ask the Right Questions

Last week, my article “Get Good at Introducing Yourself” talked about taking that first step and getting comfortable making initial connections with people.  Let’s take it one step further.

As you are working your way toward your first job out of school, or maybe getting ready to make a transition early in your career, finding someone who is willing to offer some time, information, and context to your job search can be incredibly valuable.

First grab a sheet of paper and jot down what industries and companies you’re interested in. Next take a look at your LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, and people you follow on Twitter.  Is there anyone there that is in those industries/companies? Is there anyone there can make an introduction for you?  It seems simple, but I bet you’re closer to the right people than you might think.

When you find the right person, send them a simple note introducing yourself – tell them a little about your background and what your goals are.  Then, ask if they would mind if you just asked them a few questions by email, phone, or perhaps in person. No one that I have ever done this with has said no. The trick is to make sure you’re asking the right people.

Once you line up the interview here are some questions to consider asking:

  1. Can you tell me how you picked this industry and how you got to your current position?
  2. What experience did you have that prepared you for this industry/position?
  3. Are there any resources that you rely on regularly to keep up with the trends/industry?
  4. Where do you personally see this industry headed in the next two to five years?
  5. What would make someone standout as a strong candidate to work at your company?
  6. Would you be willing to offer some feedback on my resume and perhaps refer me to anyone else that might be able to provide some advice?

I’ve personally found those questions to be simple, to the point, and extremely effective.  Make sure you prepare well, and especially well if your interview will be in person or over the phone.  Limit the questions to information that will be actionable for you – and be respectful of the other person’s time.

Starting your career out on the right foot is extremely important – and there is no harm in reaching out and asking for some help.  And, anyone who takes the time to help you and understands the importance of this will likely make a great connection for a long time to come.

And, like I said in my last post: “Nothing happens until you introduce yourself.”



Jonathan has broad ranging experience and currently works in eMarketing at Thomson Reuters in the Twin Cities area.  He is a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University where he majored in Marketing.  Prior to returning to Thomson Reuters, where he had an internship during college, he worked for Expedia in an account management role for their North American lodging business. Jonathan is an avid enthusiast of all things marketing, economics, and travel. And, he is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.  Connect with Jonathan on Twitter (@jonathanpetrino), LinkedIn, and his website.


Related posts:

  1. What Questions Do You Have For Me?
  2. Using the Internet to Find the Perfect Job
  3. 3 Interview Questions to Know How to Answer

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