What is an informational interview?

This concept might be new for some of you. Job seekers do informational interview to gather knowledge about the industry, company or any job that they want to learn about. It is a one-on-one comfortable conversation with a person who works with the particular company, industry or job profile. It should be initiated by a job seeker like you. It is a good way to network into an organization and a prospect for anticipated vacancies. It can happen in person, over the phone, or through emails and it is basically initiated by you. Main  purpose of informational interview is to build your career network and gain information. It usually lasts for a short duration , i.e., 20 – 30 minutes.

One benefit of going for informational interview is that you get a chance to practice your interview skills before undergoing a formal job interview. It is important to prepare for your informational interviews just as you would for an actual job interview. Write down a short message containing what you are interested in, about your experience and background. Then you should start reaching out to your contacts for informational interviews and it is best if you are referred by someone. You can also do informational interview with the person working in your dream company. You can find the information about the person through linkedIn, company’s directory or directly call the company to get the contact information about the person who holds the position you are interested in your dream company. Then prepare the list of all the people with whom you want to do informational interview.

Afterwords contact them to ask for available date and time when you can meet to discuss about their job profile, company and industry they are involved. It’s important to clarify that your interest is in gathering information and advice. They will respond to your email or your phone, if not ask them to recommend other person’s name. When you meet them, don’t hesitate to ask for advice about finding a job in the particular industry that person is working on. You can also ask them to suggest other people whom you can approach and talk to about your interests. Remember not to ask directly about any job opening in their company.

You might be wondering why people would be interested in giving informational interviews. It depends from person to person. Mostly, people enjoy sharing information about themselves and their jobs and, particularly, giving advice. It is common for professionals to exchange favors and information. They also believe in building networks. At the end don’t forget to follow up and send thank you note. If their suggestions have helped you or you have followed them, you can write to them about it. They will feel good about it and you never know they might offer assistance with your job search. Additionally, keep record of your meetings with the names, titles, address, dates and major points of discussion that will later help if you come across any openings in that company.

Source of this blog is MIT Career Guide.

Why Networking is important in America for Job search?

Finding a job is difficult especially when you are on dependent visa, but there are opportunities if you know how to take advantage of it. The best way to look for these opportunities is not through online job portals, employment agencies or company websites but by talking to people around you and informing them about your job search. It is important to build your network of friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors and acquaintances as they are helpful resources in job search. Inform them about your past achievements and the areas of interest and ask them whether they know of any companies or organizations doing the types of things that interests you. In the beginning, networking may sound scary, but at the end you may get a job through networking only. It is all about building relationships.

Networking is essential as 70% to 80% of jobs are never advertised. They are filled by references or through word of mouth. Job searcher invests a lot of time looking for jobs online and becomes frustrated for not finding one without realizing the importance of networking. Resumes and cover letters often might not reach the right person but networking makes you a recommended person and helps in landing your resume in the right hand.

As a first step, start with linkedIn, a professional networking site to build network. Post your profile, join relevant groups and ask for recommendations from colleagues in linkedIn. Lurk on twitter and facebook to get to know who is in your field and try to share relevant links and information with your network. If you want to build your network in a particular field or area, one of the most effective strategies for doing so is informational interviews. It’s important to work on your networking script i.e. a summary of your interests, goals and needs and use it when emailing contacts and meeting new people. Try to keep your script short and sweet.

There is a great site i.e. www.meetup.com were you can search for the group of your interest and join them.. Join two to three groups like professional associations, networking groups and interests groups. Try to attend their meetings, where you can meet new people and tell them about yourself and inform them about your job search. Always look for job fairs in your area and try to attend them. Even if building a good network takes effort, sincerity and time but it is worth at the end.

Volunteering: A Beginning path of Professional growth

Thousands of immigrant women professionals leave their well established working life and move to USA with their spouse. They get depressed in the initial months when they realize their visa does not allow them to work and gradually increasing gap in the employment history leads to more frustration.

Volunteering is a good way to illuminate your darkness of idleness. Dedicating your time as a volunteer in the community is a wonderful way to network with people and get recommendations. It is also a good way to build your professional experience, explore new career and get adjusted in the US work environment. It will not only keep you busy but also boost your self confidence. Gap in your resume can be offset by mentioning about your volunteer experience .

Good thing about volunteering is that you have no visa restrictions. However, it is important to make sure from your employer that your work has a volunteer status and it is not replacing a paid job. There are various popular websites which offer Voluntary jobs matched to individual’s skills and interests. Few of them are as follows:

http://www.volunteermatch.org/

http://www.idealist.org/

http://www.1-800-volunteer.org/

http://www.volunteeringsolutions.com/

http://boston.craigslist.org/vol/

https://www.onlinevolunteering.org/

Don’t wait till the time you get a job. Start volunteering today!

Employment Gap why a big taboo

In many countries employment gap is a big concern if it is for more than a year. Two to three years gap after high school is big no in these countries. For example in most of the Asian countries, people are stressed even if they are out of work for a year. In USA, perception of gap is not the same. It is interesting to know that here in USA, people deliberately take off after high school or graduate school to pursue their hobby or do things which they always dreamed of.

Employers don’t necessarily put it against you, if you are able to explain right and make them believe that the break between work was for personal reasons which were important or for pursuing your dreams and passion. On the other hand it gives you edge. Everybody loves a person who is always on the hunt to make himself/herself better and ready to take the plunge to add something valuable to his/her persona. Here in USA, employers look for skills and not the gap in your resume. Even if you have a gap and your skill matches their criteria they will hire you. We would not suggest you to sit idle and do nothing during those times.

There are various things you can pursue during those times. Volunteering is one way which helps in compensating the gap in your resume. Employers consider volunteer work as relevant work experience here. It also gives the impression that you are a good person who likes to give back to the society and will be committed for their company. If you are interested in enhancing your knowledge, you can surf various websites which offer free courses by prestigious universities. In Cousera.org, Edx.org, khanacademy.org and venture-lab.org courses are taught by famous professors from ivy league schools. They also offer certificate of completion duly signed by the concerned professor. It will certainly help in adding skills. One can also take vocational courses from local adult education centre for minimal price to improve the skills. Distance online courses can also be taken from Harvard extension, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts, ed2go. There will not be visa issue if you go for certain certificate courses. You can always blog about your profession and showcase your knowledge. And yes, there is also an option of english classes for advanced speaking and pronunciation at low cost.

Just remember when God closes one door he opens another. Good Luck!!

Finding the right company for you

If you have uploaded your resume on various job portals and are getting calls from various companies for job interviews but things get stuck on the visa status, then you have come to the right place and should read further.

Not every company which has a job opening is willing to sponsor Visa to fill the vacancy. In order to be successful in job hunt, the right companies need to be targeted. Now the question is how to know which company is the right one? The companies which have sponsored working visa for similar job in the past can do it again for you and hence could be a better target Even if they have sponsored the visa for different jobs profile, you can still contact them as at least you know that those companies have the setup required for sponsoring visa. There is high probability that If they like your profile, they may sponsor your visa, even if they have not done it in the past for the profile similar to you.

Here area fewwebsites which can help you finding the right company to apply to as they give you the list of companies who have sponsored visas in the past.

http://www.myvisajobs.com/H1B_Visa.aspx

http://www.immihelp.com/h1b-sponsoring-companies-database/

http://www.visasquare.com/top-h1b-visa-sponsors-2013/companies

You can search for the company on the basis of work city, work state, occupation group and visa status. After you get the list of companies, you can go to their website and apply if they have any job openings. Even if there are no job opening you can submit your resume through their websites. This way has a higher probability of success as compared to randomly sending your resume to hundred companies.

Taking the right step is important but it’s also important to take it in the right direction. All the Best!

Job Sites

The first step into the job search process is preparing your resume and putting it up on various job sites. It is an important step as it is the first connection between you and your potential employer. It gives the employers an access to your profile. Every country has some job sites which are very famous, successful and first choice of most employers. The top job sites in US are given below:

http://www.dice.com/ (for Technology Professionals)

http://www.monster.com/

http://www.indeed.com/

http://www.careerbuilder.com/

http://www.simplyhired.com/

http://www.glassdoor.com/

http://www.ihire.com/

You can also look for the government jobs in USA at this site:

http://jobcenter.usa.gov/

If you have uploaded your resume to these sites and are applying to various jobs but are still not hearing back, please check if you have provided all the required information like contact number and email. These websites send you emails on the missing information in your profile which might be restricting the employers in contacting you. Keep filling those missing information to bridge the gap and increasing your chances of hearing back from the employers.

Finding a job can be a lengthy process and may take time. Make sure that you are updating your resume on a regular basis (at least every month) to ensure that it appears in the search.