The GREAT JOB SOONER Blog

5 Reasons Your Resume Fell into a Black Hole

You’ve sent your resume out for a dozen jobs this month, but it seems like it’s disappearing into another dimension because you aren’t getting calls. Sound familiar?

Chances are, one or more of the following issues applies to you. Maybe…

…you didn’t act quickly enough. Just because the job posting says “Apply by July 24” doesn’t mean they won’t already have settled on a short list by the 20th. Be the early bird.

…your resume stated what you did, but not how well you did it and what difference it made. Let’s say you planned, led and completed a project. Well yes, but lots of people could do that. Did you do it better? Was it more difficult than it sounds? Did you solve a problem that was threatening to derail the initiative, then get the project back on track to hit an outrageous 5-week deadline? If so, add that!

…your resume is hard to read. Resumes that are wordy (using five words where two would do), crowded (long sentences and paragraphs, too little white space), in a tiny font (try not to go below 10 pt.) or that look disorganized are hard to read. Like this paragraph was. (Too many parentheses.)

…you didn’t use a proofreader. Long before I became a job search coach I worked as a proofreader and copyeditor, correcting professional writers’ manuscripts. When I was done with them, nearly every page was marked with numerous corrections. Your writing is not as clean as you think.

Did you know you can hire a proofreader for less than $5 a page? You can’t afford not to. And proofread it yourself too, because nobody’s perfect.

…you only sent your resume to Human Resources. Yes, I know, you were instructed to send it there. But don’t stop there. Figure out who the hiring manager is, and send it to him directly as well – maybe with a follow-up phone call as well.

(By the way, there’s LinkedIn add-on called Hunter that helps find people’s email addresses.)

Have you solved these resume mistakes? Still not getting the interview as often as you’d like? Subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss my next post, “5 More Reasons Your Resume Didn’t Get You the Interview.” You’ll also get a free gift.

The Holy Grail of Informational Interviews: Meeting with a Hiring Manager

How can you get a job interview ahead of all the competition? By doing an informational interview with manager before there’s an opening.

In my May 18 post, The Informational Interview – It’s Not a Thing! I wrote that there are three different types of informational interviews – the Career Exploration Informational, the Company Insider Conversation and the Hiring Manager Meeting. The third type is the most likely to result in a job.

If you’re thinking of pursuing such meetings, you probably have a few questions.

Won’t I get a job faster if I focus on applying to current openings?

In most cases,  no. If you have lots of well-placed contacts and can get referred into interviews, great. Otherwise, you need to develop those contacts, and it’s hard to do that at the last minute. Informational interviews allow you to build those contacts and relationships ahead of time. And as for applying to jobs without a connection, only about 20-25% of jobs are filled that way.

Why would they want to meet with me when there’s no open position?

Many hiring managers find it valuable to meet with prospective job candidates even when they don’t have an open position. Informational interviews allow them to develop a “bench” of qualified people in advance.

That way, a future opening can be filled more quickly and easily – perhaps by hiring you.

By “hiring manager,” do you mean that they’re currently hiring?

No, because if they’re currently hiring for your position you probably won’t be able to get an informational interview with them! Instead you’ll have to compete with many other candidates for a phone screening with Human Resources, then, hopefully, a job interview with the manager. Instead, talk to managers who don’t yet have an opening. Because then when they do, you’ll be way ahead of the crowd.

How do I get this kind of informational interview?

Mainly, through networking and through informationals of the type I call the Company Insider Conversation. Even if such a conversation doesn’t lead to a Hiring Manager Meeting, it may lead to a referral once there is an opening. Job seekers who keep busy having these kinds of conversations tend to get hired faster than those who spend most of their time applying to openings online.

How is the agenda different in the Hiring Manager Meeting?

In the other types of informational interviews you need to downplay the fact that you’re looking for a job in order to put your contact at ease. With the manager you should be up front about your interest in working for her. This meeting is very much like a job interview: you’ll be selling yourself as a potential candidate.

How do I do that?

Pretty much the same way you’d do that in a job interview. For example:

  • Know your key selling points and proactively bring them up. A good salesperson always knows and emphasizes the top features of their product that are most likely to excite their customer. This is so important that I devoted the first chapter of my interview preparation guide to a step-by-step process of identifying your “REV Points.” As of this writing I’m giving away that first chapter as a free gift for subscribing to this blog.
  • Make a good impression and connect well with the interviewer. Be on time, appropriately dressed (as for a job interview). Smile. Make conversation. Take a sincere interest in the manager and her department.
  • Be consultative. Ask about the department’s and company’s goals and challenges. Look for ways to be a resource.
  • Be prepared with solid answers to common interview questions like “Would you tell me about yourself?”, “Why are you interested in this company?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • Be ready to tell concise, clear stories that demonstrate your abilities and how you’ve made a difference for past employers.

Then what?

Follow up to ensure the manager will remember you.

  • Send a well written thank-you message within 24 hours reiterating your interest and why you’d be a good fit for future openings.
  • Keep in touch via friendly updates on a regular basis to let her know you’re still interested. Otherwise, her promise to “keep you in mind” may quickly fade from their memory. Use a system to schedule follow-ups – Outlook tasks, a contact management system like Jibberjobber or even an old-fashioned tickler file.
  • Connect on LinkedIn and other  social media as appropriate, and make a point of regularly looking through your updates and news feed for opportunities to interact.

This post concludes my series about informational interviews as an important job search tool. I hope I’ve convinced you to at least experiment with them, because they can greatly shorten the path to your next opportunity!

How to Use Info Interviews to Get Hired Faster

It’s a little-understood but abundantly proven fact: if you’re looking for a job, an intelligently executed campaign of informational interviews typically works faster than applying to jobs online.

It has been estimated that one in 12 informational interviews results in a job, making info interviewing the most powerful form of job search networking.

The reason is simple: interviews with company insiders allow you to develop relationships and insights into your target employers before a job opening ever occurs. When a job later becomes available, you’re no longer an anonymous resume in a stack of 200; you’re already a top candidate. Sometimes the job is never even posted, so you may have little or no competition.

In last week’s post I mentioned three different types of informational interviews and focused on the Career Exploration Informational. This post focuses on the Company Insider Conversation (an event that can lead to a Hiring Manager Meeting, which I’ll discuss in next week’s post). In the fourth and final post in the series, I’ll share some crucial tips for success that apply to all types of informationals.

The Company Insider Conversation

Look for opportunities to talk with almost anyone who works in a company you’re interested in working in. In this type of conversation you’ll be asking questions about the company and – very tactfully – questions that can help you navigate a path to getting hired there.

Why did I say “very tactfully”? Because it’s easy to scare off a contact – perhaps even before you’ve landed a meeting with them – by saying anything that makes them feel pressured to find you a job.

Think of it as if it were a first date. You may be hot to trot, or you may be looking to get married and have children. But you’re getting way ahead of yourself – and turning the other person off – if that’s all you can think about.

Focus on putting your company insider at ease, taking a sincere interest in the person and what he or she has to say. Enjoy having a comfortable, interesting professional discussion. There are all sorts of positive results that might – in good time – flow from this relationship, including referral to a hiring manager. But first, build relationship.

The best how-to resource I’ve found on doing this type of informational interview is The 2-Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton. Here are some questions Dalton suggests asking:

  • What trends are most impacting your business right now?
  • What surprises you most about your job?
  • What can I do right now to best prepare for a career in this field/a job in this company?
  • Which projects are most common/important in your work?
  • What resources should I be sure to look into next?

Notice that the last question is very vague. That’s intentional. Of course it will be great if the answer is, “Well, you should talk to X, she’s the one who hires people like you.” But directly asking for a referral is an imposition that may damage the rapport you’re trying build, so if asked “What do you mean by resources,” be tactful and just say “Oh, any kind of information that you think might be helpful!” Website and book recommendations are common at this stage in the relationship.

“So how do I get company insiders to meet with me?”

Dalton recommends sending an email similar to this example from his book:

SUBJECT: Duke MBA student seeking your advice

Dear Mr. Jones,

My name is Brooke Franklin, and I am a first-year Duke MBA student who found your information in the Duke alumni database. May I have 20 minutes to ask you about your experience with IBM? I am trying to learn more about marketing careers at technology companies in North Carolina, and your insights would be very helpful.

I recognize this may be a busy time for you, so if we are unable to connect by mail I’ll try to reach you next week to see whether that is more convenient.

Thank you for your time.

Brooke

Dalton calls this a “five-point email” because it follows these five guidelines:

1. 100 words or less
2. No mention of jobs (in subject or body)
3. Connection goes first (mention the person who referred you or something you have in common)
4. Generalize your interest (e.g., “technology companies in North Carolina”)
5. Maintain control of the follow-up

After the meeting: the crucial importance of keeping in touch

In your job search networking you may have heard people say “I’ll keep you in mind if I hear of any openings.” The intention is nice, but the fact is they they generally will not keep you in mind – unless you follow up.

Let’s say you took the time and effort to sit down and talk with someone. You gave them information and advice. And then you never heard back. You don’t know whether they took your advice. You don’t know whether it helped. You lose interest in helping them again. And you may even feel slighted or frustrated.

Having invested some time in another person’s success, you’re rooting for them and want to know how it turns out.

So if someone has given you information, ideas, suggestions or leads, follow up. Take action on what they told you, or at least research their ideas further. Report back to them with a brief email a couple of weeks later letting them know what you did and how their advice was useful to you. If you ran into a roadblock, mention how you’re working on overcoming it.

To help pave the way for your followup message, tell them during the meeting that you’ll update them “next Thursday” or “within a couple weeks.” Obligate yourself to follow up. That way, when your update arrives you will be perceived not as “bugging” the person, but as delivering on a promise.

Of course, it also helps to send your update on time, keep it brief and avoid asking for additional favors.

Your next steps

I’ve been referring to “the company insider” in the singular, but there’s also a numbers game involved here if you want to get hired soon. The more company insiders you talk to, the more likely it is that one of these info interviews will be that “one in 12” I referred to at the start of this article, the one that leads to a job.

So, what will you do this week to arrange meetings with people in, or knowledgeable about, your target companies?

As your company insider relationships mature though additional updates and sharing of information, some of them may result in introductions to hiring managers. Congratulations! In the next post I’ll offer tips for success with that most powerful form of informational interview.

The Informational Interview: It’s Not a Thing!

You’ve heard people say informational interviews are a great thing. Problem is, they aren’t a thing.

Well, not a single thing, anyway. There are at least three different types of informationals. Each is a different animal, with different strategies to get the most benefit from them.

And benefits they have. For example, it has been estimated that one in 12 informational interviews results in a job, making it the most powerful form of job search networking. It has a much higher success rate than applying to job openings online, where the odds are more like one in 200.

What are these three different types of informational interviews? I’ll call them the Career Exploration Informational, the Company Insider Conversation and the Hiring Manager Meeting.

In this and the next two posts I’ll explore each type individually, and then in the fourth post I’ll share some crucial tips for success that are common to three types.

The Career Exploration Informational Interview

This type of interview focuses on the interviewee’s occupation.

If you’re not sure what kind of job you want to do, it’s time for some research. Read up on various occupations online, then talk to people who are working in an occupation you’re considering. This isn’t just for students any more. With the average person changing careers five to seven times, this kind of informational can help a person of any age get a better sense of whether that new career idea is really a good fit.

The discussion is likely to focus on questions like these:

  • Why did you decide to enter this field?
  • What is your typical day like?
  • On which activities do you spend the largest amount of time?
  • Is your job typical of this occupation, or unusual?
  • What do you like best about what you do?
  • What do you like least?
  • What advice do you have for me if I decide to enter this career?
  • What other resources should I look into?

That last question is especially important! If your contact recommends a website, publication, training program, organization or – better yet – someone else to talk to, you now have next steps to pursue in your career exploration. Promise to follow up: “Thank you so much! I’ll follow up on your suggestions and let you know how it went.” That way you can continue the relationship with an occasional emailed update, and because you said you would follow up, your contact won’t be surprised. They’ll see you as keeping your promise.

Connecting on LinkedIn can help keep the two of you on each other’s radar screens and provide additional opportunities to interact. (Remember to check Notifications on the menu bar, preferably daily.)

In the best case scenario, an ongoing mentor-mentee relationship may develop.

This type of informational interview may be the easiest to get, especially if you’re a student but even if you aren’t. Having an introduction from a mutual acquaintance always helps – and LinkedIn can be very helpful here – or having something in common, such as being fellow alumni. If there’s no special connection, just ask anyway. You’d be surprised how many people will say yes. It’s flattering to be seen as an expert, and the interview is a chance to “give back” and make a difference for someone.

In the next post we’ll explore a very different animal, the Company Insider Conversation: how to land such meetings, and how to navigate them in a way that’s comfortable for both parties, builds  relationships, and paves the way for opportunities.

Is Your LinkedIn Profile “Open” for Recruiters? Use this New Feature!

I’ve often had the experience of optimizing a LinkedIn profile for someone and then getting an email like this: “I’m hearing from recruiters who found me on LinkedIn, and some of the openings are really interesting!”

I have a lot of tips for attracting recruiters. Here’s one you can easily implement on your own in just a few minutes.

Turn on LinkedIn’s new “Open Candidate” feature, which instantly makes you more findable by users of LinkedIn’s Recruiter subscription – while cleverly hiding you from your own company’s recruiters.

Here’s how to set up LinkedIn Open Candidate:

  1. Click the Jobs icon in the navigation bar at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. In the Jobs you may be interested in section, click Update preferences. Enter your preferences about workplace location, position level, industry and company size.
  3. If your job search is “under the radar”: In the Let recruiters know you’re open section, look for the little shield symbol and read the warning about how LinkedIn will – probably – protect you from having your own company’s recruiters see you as an Open Candidate. Click for more information and make sure you’re comfortable with the level of risk involved.
  4. Click (don’t drag) the toggle button to turn on Open Candidate.
  5. Once you’ve done that, a new set of questions appear. Answer those. See my tips below about how to make best use of the 300-character Introduction.
  6. Optionally, click the Share your profile toggle button. (You don’t have to do this in order to make use of Open Candidate, but it’s probably helpful.)
  7. Click Done.

What can you write in the Introduction box to grab recruiters’ attention? Focus this on one or more of your key selling points. If you’re not sure what those are, read the first chapter of my new book, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview. Don’t have the book? Get Chapter 1 FREE when you subscribe to this blog.

Now, ready to hear from those recruiters?

10 Tips for Great Cover Letters

Cover Letter TipsRumors of the death of the cover letter have been exaggerated. Cover letters often do make a difference – so write cover letters that have all 10 of these advantages.

1: The name of the hiring manager, if at all possible, even if you’re sending it to Human Resources. And do send it directly to the hiring manager as well! Read my posts on how to find the hiring manager’s name and how to find their email address.

2: An attention-getting opening. What do you think is the #1 most interesting or impressive thing about you, from the point of view of the employer you’re writing to? Start with that. Or figure out what their pain points are, and start by presenting yourself as the solution to their problems. Either of these approaches would be much more effective than “I am writing to express my interest in the blah blah position. My resume is attached.”

3: Your Key Selling Points. Emphasis on what you most want employers to notice – the top three to five reasons why they should hire you instead of someone else.

4:  Evidence that you are especially motivated to work for them: Do some research and mention what you discovered that makes you a good fit.

5: Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. Even professional writers have their work proofread before publication. You can get good professional proofreading for around $5 per page.

6: Brevity. Keep it to one page or less for mailing, or one email screen (without scrolling).

7: The right format.

Email: Your cover letter should be the email itself, not an attachment. Include the job title in the subject line, plus if possible a few words emphasizing a key selling point. For example: ” MBA w/ Global Experience – Region Director Opening.” If you’re starting from a template, make your changes before pasting the content into the email. Content inserted after that point may appear to the recipient in a different font than the surrounding text.

Hardcopy: Use standard business letter format. Include a “re:” line referring to the job opening. Example: “Re: Region Director role”

8: Keywords. Cover letters often end up in the human resources department’s applicant tracking system (ATS) along with their resumes. An ATS is like a database that stores applicant information. HR personnel do keyword searches of these materials to determine whose resumes they want to read, and whose to ignore. Your cover letter and resume have more chance of being read if they contain crucial keywords such as the job title being applied for and words describing the most important skills and qualifications for the job.

9: Your phone number. Even though you phone number is presumably on the resume, include it here as well.

10: In the copy you send to the hiring manager, a promise to call him or her to introduce yourself. (Of course, this presumes you’ve got their name and a phone number, and that the job announcement did not forbid you to call.) If you’re able to do this, write something like “Because there is such a strong fit between my background and this role, I am going to take the liberty of phoning you Wednesday afternoon to personally introduce myself and answer any questions you may have.” Then be absolutely sure you make that call at the stated time, fully prepared (with notes) to effectively handle any response, whether it’s “I’m afraid I don’t have time to talk. I want to just let HR handle it,” or “I have some time. Tell me about yourself.” In a future post I’ll say more about making calls like this.

Many employers do read cover letters. Make sure yours includes all of the above so it – and you – will stand out.

 

Job Search Tips from the Olympics

simoneJob search has more in common with the Olympic Games than you might think.

Both require a participant to do their best in a high-pressure, competitive situation. And every great athlete knows success is not due purely to physical prowess; mental preparation is huge.

A study of Olympic athletes has shown that four key mental skills were crucial in their success.

One: Positive Self-Talk.

Here’s an Olympic runner:

Immediately before the race I was thinking about trying to stay on that edge, just letting myself relax, and doing a lot of positive self-talk about what I was going to do. I just felt like we couldn’t do anything wrong. It was just up to us. I said, ‘There’s nothing that’s affecting us in a negative way, the only thing now is to do it, and we can do it . . . I just have to do my best.’

I’m sure Olympic athletes have unhelpful thoughts, too – the equivalent of a job seeker’s “I’m so awful at interviewing” or “I can’t call that hiring manager, I’ll make a fool of myself!” But they can’t afford to let those thoughts go undisputed – and neither can you.

Instead of kicking yourself when these thoughts occur, just kindly replace them with positive thoughts like “I’m working on my interviewing skills and getting better all the time” or “I’ll get ready for that call and I’ll make a good connection” or “I’m calling him five minutes from now and we’re having a great conversation.”

Two: Visualization (a.k.a. Creative Imagery or Mental Practice).

These athletes had very well developed imagery skills and used them daily. They used imagery to prepare themselves to get what they wanted out of training, to perfect skills within the training sessions, to make technical corrections, to imagine themselves being successful in competition, and to see themselves achieving their ultimate goal.

Visualization goes even further than positive statements. Saying to yourself “I’m calling the hiring manager and we’re having a good conversation” is good – and vividly imagining is even better.

For tips, see my article Mental Practice for Interviews.

Three: Setting Goals.

The best athletes had clear daily goals. They knew what they wanted to accomplish each day, each workout, each sequence or interval. They were determined to accomplish these goals and focused fully on doing so.

We all know determination is important. How can you be determined to accomplish something if you don’t know specifically what it is? The overall goal of “get a job” is a start, but you also need smaller goals that will get you there. Set objectives like “10 networking conversations this week” and apply your determination to those.

Four: Simulations.

The best athletes made extensive use of simulation training. They approached training runs, routines, plays, or scrimmages in practice as if they were at the competition.

Practice aloud for important phone calls. Do mock interviews. Be realistic, making sure your posture, facial expression and tone of voice are the same as they should be in the real situation. For interviews, do a dress rehearsal at some point.

Follow these four pointers in your job search and perform at the top of your game!

3 Surprising Job Search Facts – from a National Survey

3 Surprising Must Knows for Job SeekersHow to do a smart job search: has it changed?

It’s constantly changing. And a recent survey from CareerBuilder showed that job seekers aren’t keeping up.

Think about these three surprising facts:

“Your resume is not enough.”

“More than half (53 percent) of employers say a resume doesn’t provide enough information for them to assess whether someone is a good fit for the job,” according to CareerBuilder.

“If you’re just providing a resume, you may lose out. They want to see a cover letter, professional portfolio where applicable, recommendations and links to social media profiles.”

Of course, these materials need to be well prepared, or what’s the point? Learn how to write a good cover letter and what goes into an excellent LinkedIn profile. And consider hiring a skilled career professional to interview you and craft highly personalized materials that are both authentic and strategic.

“The competition may be putting in more hours than you.” Work hard – and smart – at your job search.

“On average, job seekers spend 11 hours a week searching for jobs. Are you putting in more or less time than the competition?”

It’s important to treat job search like a job – even if a part-time one. Set regular hours.

But working hard isn’t the whole story; you also need to work smart. If about 75% of jobs are obtained through referrals and networking, why spend more than 25% of your time applying to jobs online?

Most job searchers don’t know how to network effectively. Shaking hands at large networking events or asking your contacts if they know of job openings – these aren’t the best ways to go about it.

Some of the most effective  job search networking is based on one-on-one conversations with people connected to companies you have targeted as places you want to work – and not asking about openings! (Introverts, take note: this is also less stressful and more enjoyable than attending events.) To find out how, read this blog post on networking or get a copy of my favorite job search book of all time, The 2-Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton.

“Employers will pay more.”

“With competition heating up for positions at all skill levels, two-thirds (66 percent) of employers plan to offer higher starting salaries this year. Job seekers are in a better negotiating position, so you want to avoid taking the first offer in most cases.”

If you’ve never negotiated your salary before, start now! You can do it, and in most cases it results in an average of $5,000 more per year, not to mention the effect of current salary on future raises and offers.

I realize many of the recommendations above may appear time-consuming, stressful or downright scary. If that’s the case for you, consider getting some expert advice and support from a good career coach so you can update yourself to a smart job search – one that gets you a great job, sooner.

Want Job Interviews? Be Online!

Want to Be Interviewed? Be Seen Online!Did you know this? A third of employers are less likely to interview you if they can’t find information about you online.

In a Harris Poll survey of 2,000 hiring and human resources managers nationwide, across industries and company sizes, 35% expressed this view. A solid 52% stated that they use social networking sites to research job candidates.

The numbers may actually be higher now; this poll was taken in 2015.

These employers aren’t necessarily looking for negatives like compromising photos or negative comments about the boss. Most of them are looking for evidence that supports your qualifications: a professional persona that demonstrates good judgment and networking skills. And they’re looking for “social proof”: LinkedIn recommendations and other positive comments about you.

It’s time to get on LinkedIn at the very least, whether or not you’re looking for a job right now. A good profile takes time: to get it written, to develop a good-sized network of connections and to obtain those so-important recommendations. Build it before you need it.

If you’re concerned about privacy or identity theft, learn how to be online safely rather than shying away automatically. Here are just a few tips: Don’t include your high school, mention your pet by name, or – god forbid! – post your full birth date, since financial institutions often ask for these facts to confirm identities. You may want to post a more general “metro area” location name, rather than your specific city. Consider carefully before posting your email address or phone number. And of course, use a very strong password that you don’t use for anything else.

After LinkedIn, you might consider other options that might fit your interests, occupation and needs: maybe an online portfolio, professional blog or personal (but professional!) website. Consider professional networking platforms beyond LinkedIn.

As for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like, although these aren’t conceived as professional networking arenas, they can be useful if carefully curated to support your professional brand. If skillfully done (and that’s a big “if”), a blending of personal and professional interests on social media can help employers feel that they know and trust you.

And don’t be overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Start with one platform. For most people, LinkedIn is by far the most important place to be seen online. Create an excellent profile and gain the benefits of a professional online presence – attention from recruiters, job interviews, offers, and advancement of your career.

How to Turn Info Interviews into Relationships

How to Keep in Touch after an Info Interview?Informational interviews are a great job search networking tactic. You can gain useful industry and company insights.

More crucially, you can build relationships that may lead to being referred to hiring managers.

How can you keep in touch and continue the relationship (without being perceived as a pest)?

Spoiler alert: I’m not going to suggest you send them articles!

Let’s say you had an informational interview with Samantha, who does work similar to yours at a company you’re interested in. She has offered you some advice.

Samantha is more likely to feel like her time was well spent – and more likely to want to offer additional advice or leads in the future – if you report back to her on how the advice was useful. That way she feels like she really made a difference.

Before you even leave the meeting, thank her and say “I’ll let you know how this works out.” About a week later, send her an email or card mentioning how you followed up on her advice and what the results have been. Having made a commitment to follow up, you will be perceived as following through on a commitment.  No peskiness involved!

And where do you go from there?

Steve Dalton, the author of one of my favorite job search books, The 2-Hour Job Search, answered this question in a discussion in his Q&A forum on LinkedIn:

After you’ve updated your contact a couple of weeks with the status of any referral they gave you (or if they did not give you one), you switch the contact to a recurring monthly check-in. The first monthly check-in should consist of three items:
1) Recap that best piece of advice or insight they gave you
2) Give a specific example of how you benefited from that advice
3) Ask if they have additional advice

If they don’t have further advice, you make future monthly check-ins more personal, inquiring about vacations & kids, etc., but always thanking them for their advice & asking for more. This reminds them you’re still searching, and prompts them for action.

If you’re still having a hard time asking for something, read Dalton’s Huffington Post article about a phenomenon well known to social psychologists, called the Ben Franklin Effect – whereby politely asking someone for a small favor – and following up appropriately afterwards – can actually cause them to offer more help in future than if you had done a favor for them!

Make the most of your informational interviews by turning them into ongoing relationships. This will be far more fruitful – in your job search and even after – than a one-time coffee date that is quickly forgotten.