Requesting an Informational Interview

After shortlisting the right agencies and priming your resume, the informational interview is one of your most underrated tools. By informational interview, I mean reaching out to someone at an agency you're interested in—whether it's your first one or your next step—to ask for a conversation (via email, phone or in-person) that helps you learn more. While there may not be a job up for grabs, it's a huge recon opportunity and establishes a connection that can be leveraged in the future. And because it's not a formal interview, you're more likely to relax and be yourself—which is ultimately what agencies want to get a sense of.

Having talked with other industry vets about outreach emails they've received, and fielded a lot of requests myself, here are some Do's and Don'ts that can increase your chances of getting a response and scheduling that informational interview.

Do keep it short and sweet.
Agency folk are busy, so this email isn't the place to get into your whole story and resume. Five sentences max should do the trick. 

But do give some context as to who you are.
They'll need some information in order to decide whether they want to respond. Don't keep them guessing, and provide one sentence on who you are before launching into your request. 

Do be specific about what you want to know, and do make it about them.
Outline exactly what you're looking to learn, and tie it to the reason you reached out to them specifically. If you've done your research, aka online stalking (no shame!), you should be able to identify why you've chosen to reach out to her/him out of everyone else. 

Don't email the whole team.
Teams talk, and no one wants to feel like they've received a generic email blast. Choose quality over quantity, and decisiveness over desperation.

Don't be afraid to follow up.
You know that email you keep marking "Unread" so you can respond properly that then ends up just sitting in your Inbox? Exactly. Sending a quick, brief follow-up after a week or so will pop your email to the top of their inbox as a gentle reminder.

If you still don't hear back, don't take it personally.
There are lots of reasons why people don't respond. If you assume it's because you're not good enough, it's going to be hard to keep sending these requests. Without feeling entitled to get a response, balance your attitude so every unreturned email isn't seen as a personal failure. 

Emailing a stranger isn't easy, but take comfort in knowing you're making an innocent request based on the desire to learn. Approaching them as one human to another will help take the anxiety out of reaching out, and make LinkedIn a trove of potential connections.

You got this,