When meeting an employer for the purposes of job development, you should begin with a smile and a greeting using the person’s name, a firm handshake, eye contact, and a self-introduction. This should be followed by thanking the employer for his or her time. It is then usually advisable to “warm up” the initial meeting. That is, rather than jumping into your agenda, first establish a rapport with the employer.
This expectation for initial “small talk” varies by location and situation. In some areas, it might be typical to briefly discuss non-business things initially, such as sports, the weather, or people you each know. Other more fast-paced employers might not want to “waste time,” so it is important for the job developer to gauge this by observing the employer’s body language and level of “busyness.” At the very least, however, to begin on a pleasant note, it is generally a good idea to at least mention any referrals and commonalities you know.
The first interaction with an employer should be one in which the job developer gathers information about the employer and his or her organization. Depending on the style of the employer, you might ask about his or her business story, why he or she is engaged in the work, motivations, and more.
Broadly, include questions that refer to:
- The employer’s personal history
- The goals of the business and the employer
- Personal interests, including non-work and work-related activities
- Personal relationships important to the employer
Once you have learned about the employer, you should focus more on the business itself. If you have conducted research that provides some information, you can begin by talking about what your understanding is of the business, and ask the employer if he or should could elaborate about it. You can then explore some of the challenges the business faces, including competition, the evolution of its products and/or services, their labor force experiences and hiring needs, and current and future challenges to be faced.