Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Informational Interviews: providing you with clues to Succeed!

Learn specific career research tools and organize your network to support you in accelerating your ability to move into your next career position.

A tremendous way to find out more in a field is doing an informational interview. This is when you network to find people working at the company, in the industry or with people you want to work with. By asking a series of questions and engaging with them you expand your network of people who know you and increase your capacity to learn about the industry.

One main advantage is that you gather a great deal of information in an organized and efficient manner contributing to your ability to make decisions and save many hours and wasted money. People do informational interviews to learn firsthand about a particular type of work or organization. It also helps to develop contacts which can lead to introductions and access to jobs in the hidden job market.

How do you identify who to contact and how to find them? The best people to contact are individuals who are further ahead on the career path and can operate as a mentor. They have insider information and understand the importance of contributing to others. You may wonder where to find these people. When I coach clients I recommend they start with who they know already. Ask people in person, by phone and by email who they might know in a certain industry, field, or at a company that you want to learn more about. I also suggest you use resources like LikedIn and Facebook to identify people you currently know who may know these people.

An easy way to begin the conversation is by telling the person, that you are in the process of making some decisions about your career and want to learn from them. You are not looking for a job but are in an information gathering process. The outcome is informative in nature moving you closer to your career goals. I find a very effective question to pose is something like “Here is what I have done and what I have accomplished.” What ideas or suggestions might you have for career direction or opportunities that I might want to pursue?”

This process of inquiry is a sure sound way to search for careers or confirm a new career path. Each interview you do provides information that moves you closer to your goal. It is also a tremendous way to expand your network of people who know you, and your accomplishments and your career aspirations. The outcome is an increase of the quality and quantity of people who could assist you.

A few sample questions you might find helpful to ask would be, “What skills or characteristics do you feel contribute to the success in this industry? “What is the most important thing that someone planning to enter this career should know?”

If you would like a more comprehensive list of informational interview questions and a more detailed report please email me below.

Please share with our readers a personal success story you have from an interview you were on recently and any decisions or next steps you took because of it.

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