Bringing Your Resume To Informational Interviews

Aug 25 2010 in Featured, Interviews, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

You scored an informational interview with an influential manager at your target company. Should you bring a resume?

Learn the pros and cons …

A client was thrilled that she scheduled an informational interview with a high ranking manager at one of her target firms. She had invited this manager to coffee to discuss industry issues and so she could learn more about the target company. – I was helping her prepare for the meeting. She was wise that she hadn’t tipped her hand that she was looking for a job.

One of the first questions my client asked me was “How do I let the manager know that I’m looking for a job?”, followed quickly by “When should I give them my resume?” My answers surprised her and they may surprise you too.

When You Should Present Your Resume At An Informational Interview:

… Never.

My client was shocked – maybe you are too. You should never present your resume at an informational interview. I tell my clients never to even bring a copy of their resume to an informational interview, so they aren’t tempted to present it.

Here’s a number of reasons why not:

  1. It’s not a job interview: Informational interviews, by their definition, are to learn more about a company – not to ask for a job.
  2. You’ve trashed your credibility: Bringing a resume ruins your credibility, demonstrating ulterior motives to the person you’ve met with. You pitched the meeting as an informational interview, but when you pull out a resume, you’ve turned it into an ambush job interview. Bad idea – see
  3. Your resume won’t contain information you learned at the informational interview: The whole point of an informational interview is to get information – info that you can use to customize your resume to fit specific company needs. After you’ve had the chance to learn this valuable info, why would you turn over a generic resume, when you could now give yourself much better odds? … even if you ended up in ATS pre-screening.
  4. Excuse for an additional company contact: If you don’t have your resume with you, you have to contact the manager again to email it, giving you the chance to customize it, and to continue to sell yourself.
  5. Resumes go to HR: Giving your resume to a manager, who’s not the hiring manager, is usually an express ticket … to HR. Chances are HR isn’t where you wanted your resume to go – you could have just sent it through the company’s website if you had the urge to get pre-screened by the ATS system.
  6. Wasting your contact’s time: Your company contact just did you a big favor, giving you time out of their busy day to talk about internal issues at their company. Do you want to thank your contact for that favor by giving a piece of paper to send (not even email) to HR … when you can easily do that yourself?
  7. If you give a resume, it’s paper: HR departments aren’t set up to manage paper resume today – they manage digital documents, emails, and database records. By presenting a paper resume, you introduce an additional step in HR’s process – manual scanning. If your resume falls through the cracks (someone forgets to scan, the paper gets lost, buried, or the manager forgets to deliver it) how can you be considered for a job?

I’ll almost always get client pushback, with questions like “Won’t I look unprepared if I don’t bring a resume?”

Why would you look unprepared? You didn’t set up a job interview, so why would you bring a resume?

How You Should Handle Asking For A Job At Informational Interviews

… Don’t.

Why would you ever want to ask for a job at an informational interview?

Chances are, the person you are meeting with isn’t the hiring manager for the position you are seeking. Even if they are, if you use an informational interview to ask for a job, you’re admitting deception about your intended purpose of the meeting. You didn’t tell the individual that you were trying to find the right way to ask them for a job … you stated that you wanted to learn more about the company.

Yet, most candidates use informational interviews to ask for a job …

Not only does this trash the candidates’ credibility, it also wastes a great opportunity to find out really useful information about the company. Here’s where you can discuss how the company is responding to competition, to industry opportunities/threats, what roadblocks the company is facing, and how these issues affect the department you are targeting.

You can find out about jobs from the company website or from HR – Why waste your meeting asking about jobs?

On the other hand, you can use an informational meeting to do more than just be an investigator – why not also learn how you can help the person you are meeting with? Why make it just you asking for favors, when you’ll find so much more help when you’ve first given help?

What kind of help can you give? Can you refer contacts that can help them in business, or potential candidates for their department? Can you refer clients … even if the person you’re meeting with is not in sales, employees who generate business for their companies get recognized (or bonused in some companies).

Learn more about the other person’s interests. Charities are a great opportunity to help your contact – volunteering your help (or referring others who can help) to your contact’s pet charities is a big favor to them and a great potential bonding experience, in exchange for a few hours of your time.

By learning more about your contact and finding ways you can help, your conversation becomes one of mutual help … and your contact should naturally want to learn what they can do to help you.

Then if you get to the golden moment where the person you’re meeting with asks you how they can help you … would you ask them to pass along your resume?


Instead, ask the more powerful question – ask to be introduced to the manager of the department you want to work in.

Can you see how that’s more impactful than giving a paper resume, asking them to pass it to a hiring manager (translates to HR)?


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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