If you are tackling your job transition simply by uploading resumes and contacting recruiters, you probably have time on your hands while you’re waiting—and hoping—to be invited in for an interview. When you rely only on this approach to your search, it can take quite a while—and you may be missing additional opportunities for which you would be better suited than what actually materializes.
Incorporating an additional approach—by going on information interviews—opens up many more possibilities as you move forward. Consider the following:
1. What Are Information Interviews, And How Do They Work?
2. Action Steps
3. Dos And Don’ts
What Are Information Interviews, And How Do They Work?
Information interviews are appointments you initiate that enable you to tap into the hidden job market—those job openings that have not yet been published—where approximately 80% of jobs are gotten. It differs from the more formal job interview in many respects—the tone is informal, and it is a soft-sell approach to the job search. The payoff is generally not immediate—but other benefits of using this approach can be immeasurable.
These appointments need to be treated just as seriously as job interviews because they are part of your marketing campaign. Indirectly you are always trying to make a good impression, so that you will be kept in mind and referred to job openings that could be a good fit. Wear good business casual dress, even if you are meeting in a coffee shop. Communicate that you are a person who goes the extra mile.
Contact people who are doing the job you might want, and ask for 20 minutes of their time. Your stated purpose is that you are looking for information, advice, suggestions, and feedback. Take the pressure off people from the start by making it clear that you do not expect them to have a job for you. Do not use the information interview to ask the person if they know of specific openings. Instead, ask for the names of others you might talk with for additional information. It’s best to do this at the end of the appointment.
Information interviewing is a relational process, not a series of one-time events. Continue to follow up after each appointment, letting people know that you have followed through with their suggestions. Look for ways to be helpful. Approach the process with a spirit of reciprocity. This will help with the discomfort you could feel when asking for a favor.
Information interviews have many benefits. They give you an opportunity to create more choices for yourself. Because you initiate them, knowing how to manage the process well gives you an opportunity to take more control over the job search so that you are not continually in a waiting mode. It is also beneficial to be expanding your network of contacts for the long term.
Set up a spreadsheet to track your appointments, including names and contact information for each person. Continue to track the dates of each contact, what was discussed, and the next follow-up date.
Starting with people you know, add names to the list. You can include former colleagues, alumni, friends, and family members. Even if the people you talk to initially are completely outside your field, they may know exactly the right people for you to talk to.
Begin by practicing these appointments with people who are “low risk,” and where you don’t have to worry if you make a mistake. Hold off on sitting down with your top contacts until you have experience and are comfortable with the process. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, but be willing to look at what you need to be doing differently going forward.
Prepare carefully for each appointment, including researching the company and the person with whom you will be meeting. Develop an introduction about your work history that makes your experience come alive.
Because you have asked for the appointment, it is up to you to have an organized agenda for the meeting. Be prepared—in the event that the person you’re meeting with starts asking you questions, and allow the meeting to turn into a job interview on the spot, in case that opportunity presents itself.
Dos And Don’ts
Structure the appointment carefully
Research for each appointment
Exercise discretion and say positive things about your current situation, boss, and colleagues
Take pressure off people to find you a job
Show up as a whole person rather than trying to establish connection in a formulaic way
Approach each discussion as an exchange rather than as a transaction
Approach the process reciprocally
Wait until the end of the appointment to ask for introductions
Ask for a job
To Sum Up: When you approach the information interview in a thoughtful and organized way, you can create choices for yourself that might surprise you. And pausing to understand the fine points of the process at the start can save you having to go back and work twice!
Nonie Potocki is the owner of her own private practice in New York City.
Originally Posted on Linked IN by: Nonie Potocki
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