When I speak with technical professionals, many of them will tell me all about their job board skills, all the alerts they have set up and how many resumes they’ve dropped into the proverbial HR black hole. They will tell me that they either love or hate recruiters, and they will tell me that they show up at a networking meeting where they have colleagues “looking out” for them. Yet when I ask them about targeted employer profiling and leveraging network connections to secure informational interviews at their targeted employers, I can hear the crickets chirp, chirp, chirping.

Inevitably, someone will tell me informational interviews are for college graduates or “new” professionals only. Someone else will tell me that they are time-consuming. And yet another will tell me that they tried it and it didn’t lead to anything.

All three responses tell me how ill prepared we are for executing not just an effective job search but also for networking in general.

For some reason, we naturally gravitate to “reactionary” methods, such as scouring the “classifieds” and waiting around for recruiters to have the right opening for us. We also equate networking with a “wait-and-see” approach.

Now, don’t get me wrong. These methods are all fine. In general, I promote a diverse approach to conducting a job search, and I think too often we put our eggs in too few baskets, BUT studies show (and my experience in career services substantiates) that the most effective job search weighs more heavily on a “proactive” approach that targets employers best suited for you and your background.

In an age when corporate culture is considered the #1 candidate concern, employer profiling is even more important then. And part of that process comes down to setting up informational interviews to establish rapport and learn about the internal culture.

And while, yes, it can be time-consuming and it doesn’t always lead to something (of course, all the same is true for job boards, recruiters, etc.), I have witnessed it lead to some of the best hires for both the candidate and the employer as well as turn around the course of a career…more so than I have ever seen landing a job board opening (for those 1-3% of you who do) or even working with recruiters.

With that in mind, the following presentation provides some pointers on how to make the informational interview more effective for you: