Networking For Career Exploration and Job Searching

 By Lucy Shapiro, M.Ed.

The Power of Networking

Networking is a powerful method of informally or formally gathering career information that matches and clarifies one’s interests/goals. It is also one of the most effective job searching methods. The majority of interesting job openings are found from networking even though in informational interviews one is asking for information. Networking by exploring interesting careers helps guide you toward exciting jobs.

Networking Helps To:

  •  Explore interesting/unknown careers & career paths
  •  Clarify interesting job requirements
  •  Gather organizational information
  •  Get referrals to career contacts
  •  Proactively search for careers that match one’s goals & interests
  •  Gather targeted job search/resume advice
  •  Build a network of contacts who may mention opportunities
  •  Learn about non-listed job openings
  •  Become known as an applicant to an employer
  •  Gather career information easier than asking for job openings


Government Networking Contacts:

  •  Alumni (College & Graduate School)
  •  Employers
  •  Coworkers
  •  Friends/Relatives
  •  Professors/Advisors/Students
  •  Competitors
  •  Community Contacts (Doctors, Accountants, Church/Synagogue Members, and others)
  •  People Mentioned in Newspapers, Professional Journals, Books, Alumni Magazines
  •  Professional Journals/Publications
  •  People Working in Interesting Fields
  •  Fellow Volunteers
  •  Librarians/Career Counselors
  •  Anyone You Meet


Interview For Information

Informational interviews are formal or informal ways of networking by asking contacts for information about careers of interest rather than asking for job openings.

Conduct Formal and Informal Informational Interviews:

  •  Prioritize contacts to interview those who are working in jobs that most closely match your career interests.
  •  Approach contacts in person or via email, telephone, mail.
  •  Ask for information rather than for job openings.
  •  Formally schedule an appointment and/or informally ask questions of those you meet.
  •  Act professionally, and treat formal and informal type informational interviews like job interviews.
  •  Lead the interview.
  •  Ask effective questions during the interview.
  •  Highlight your strengths/qualification(s) by clearly communicating your skills, interests, accomplishments, and career goals.
  •  Develop rapport by showing interest, expressing appreciation, establishing mutual enthusiasm.
  •  Always get referrals to build your career networking contacts.
  •  Follow up with the person interviewed by sending thank-you notes, contact referrals, and maintain relationship with the person interviewed.
  •  Be willing to help others interviewing for information.


Prepare Before Interviewing For Information:

  •  Research interesting career fields by reading, talking with others, and attending information meetings.
  •  Prepare questions about what you want to learn.
  •  Gather names of potential contacts working in interesting jobs.
  •  Learn as much as possible about the organization and networking contact.
  •  Enlist support for motivating yourself to proactively network for career information.


Questions To Ask When Interviewing For Information:

  •  Ask about typical job duties/requirements.
  •  Ask about required job skills.
  •  Ask about hiring policies and methods of learning about openings.
  •  Ask about information that only an inside source could provide, such as pros/cons of position(s) and type of work environment(s).
  •  Always ask for referrals to other networking contacts in the field to build your career network.
  •  Ask for names of professional associations.
  •  Ask who else you could talk to for further information.


Networking Resources


  • Informational Interviewing
  • High Impact Telephone Networking For Job Hunters
  • Effective Networking: Proven Techniques For Career Success
  • The Complete Guide to Public Employment
  • The Complete Guide to Finding Jobs in Government
  • The United States Government Manual
  • Federal Employees Almanac
  • Federal Career Directory´╗┐