How to approach professionals in your industry

Are you a student who recently graduated? Are you looking for some helpful advice before entering the job market? Are you mildly terrified? It can be a scary process trying to put yourself out there, but with the right guidance – your career can grow from strength to strength. A few years ago, I used to hire and train interns as part of my job description and encountered quite a few hopeful candidates in the process. There’s the right and the wrong way to approach professionals in your industry and if you do it properly, you can get valuable tips to further your career. Getting insight and guidance from people who have some work experience can have an overall positive impact on your own approach to work.

Here’s what I’ve found out on my own journey both as someone applying for jobs and hiring interns.

(Sidenote: these tips are targeted towards someone who has pretty regular internet access and is an avid social media user. I wrote this with the potential interns/graduates I encountered in mind.)

Update your CV and cover letter

If you stay ready, you don’t need to get ready. Before you approach someone in your industry, aim to have your updated CV or portfolio on hand. There’s a change you might be asked to send it through at short notice and don’t need to spend time working on it. Struggling to find nice CV templates? You can check out Canva for a variety of CV templates or just Google to find other resources that will work for you. Try and save your document as a PDF so it looks more professional to your potential employers.

Pro-tip: do NOT put your ID number on your CV! People scam all the time and you’re putting yourself at risk of identity fraud.  

Approach someone through proper communication channels

In this day and age, most young graduates are online and following their ideal mentors on social media platforms. The access is there and honestly, if you have access to WiFi, the world is an open book.

Chances are, you’ve found someone you admire in your field and want to know how they got started. If you have, try and approach them properly. Check their social media for an email address or DM them to ask if they have one for queries. Why? Asking someone to assist you for free is labour on their part. The least you can do is use the channels they’re comfortable with. You’re more likely to get all the information you need and more. Secondly, emails are a easily accessible paper trail, where documents can be sent.

Make sure your social media bio and avi is updated (and clearly shows who you are). People like to know who they’re engaging with.

Do your research

So, you’ve found their email address and want to reach out? Try and do a some research about a) them and b) the topic you want to ask about. Essentially, you want to get their insights around the industry or on a particular topic. It helps to know what you’re talking about because you’re more likely to get a positive response. The other point is that this helps you, as learning about the industry can only be beneficial in the future.

DON’T LIE. People check references and if you don’t have a particular skill-set, most people will be able to tell.

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Be upfront and not pushy 

When you trying to get hold of someone, state your intentions clearly. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want but don’t subject someone to an unnecessarily long email. You’re more likely to get some helpful information if you’re able to articulate exactly what you need. It’s also important to note that your tone will greatly impact the response you get.

Most industry circles are quite small and people also talk about their experiences with someone, you don’t want to make a terrible impression.

Hope this helps! If you have any queries, you can email me on alyxcarolus@gmail.com

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