Informational interviews are the number one way most people are advancing their careers and finding new opportunities. Learn how to make them part of your job search process.
- Have you ever reached a dead end in your job search? Hit a wall in your career growth, or want to consider a new field? Applying to job board ads and doing online research will not solve your dilemma. You need to ask someone for advice, but who do you talk to? Informational interviewing is a form of networking which is the number one way most people are advancing their careers and finding new opportunities. They help you build relationships with people who can open a door, initiate an introduction, or hire you in the future.
And these engaged meaningful conversations are a much faster way to advance your search. You can spend hours applying to job board ads and website postings, but that's where you have the highest level of competition and the lowest level of results. Cold submissions to postings frequently result in your resume being screened out by automated systems looking for keywords. On the other hand, informational interviews allow you to share your story and let influential people get to know you.
So, how do you get started with informational interviews? Think about the type of questions you need answered and then identify individuals who can provide you with the best answers and career advice. Do you know anyone who can answer your questions? If not, do you know anyone who can introduce you to someone who could? Even a distant contact. Did you read an article that inspired you? Did you find someone on LinkedIn with your dream job and you'd love to know how they got where they are in their career? These are all contacts who can enhance your job search, reach out to them.
Most people are happy to help someone who takes initiative. And be sure to set realistic expectations for yourself. You are not going to talk to someone during an informational interview and magically get a job offer. Focus on having a great conversation with someone you admire. Your conversation should be engaging while you're asking for their advice. Depending on how your conversation went, keep in touch. Share information you find that the person would consider valuable.
When you're keeping in touch, it's important to give as well as receive. At the end of the day, if your informational interview was an engaging conversation, then think of it as the beginning of a relationship, not a one off interview. Relationships require nurturing and sharing. Focus on developing a relationship rather than getting a job. You will learn, you will grow, and you might just be pleasantly surprised when someone you know is able to open the door that leads to your next career move.
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- Compare an informational interview to a job interview.
- Identify companies and contacts to interview.
- Prepare for an interview, by researching questions and updating your résumé.
- Conduct an informational interview.
- Analyze the results from your interview.