I love informational interviews about careers. So much in fact, I make them a regular conversation starter when I meet someone new. I just love hearing about what people do, how they got to where they are today and the advice they have for others looking to enter their field.
Informational interviews give us insights. They also lead to job opportunities.
When researching for my coaching career, an informational interview with the head of HR at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia led to a job offer there and was the perfect jumping off point for my (then new) foray into coaching.
Informational interviews in my experience, make job hunting easy and fun. But they are often underutilized. Even by me (gulp.)
Though not job hunting, my family & I were recently on the market for a new home/apartment. We created our wish list which was mainly driven by proximity to our son’s school. Then we went through traditional channels – classified ads online & in print and real estate brokers. What a disappointment that was! The places we found with this approach were already taken, poorly maintained/not suitable for living or grossly overpriced.
Searching for a home this way made me realize this is what most people feel like when job hunting the “traditional” way – frustrated, helpless and taken advantage of.
Thankfully, our network came to the rescue. Through personal contacts my husband was approved for a special Facebook group aimed at connecting tenants and landlords without the broker middleman. This yielded much better results and in fact, within a week we had identified an apartment that met most of our needs. To top it off, the process was easier and more fun. You may think the story stops there.
Actually, a fellow parent at our son’s school (who lived in the apartment complex at the top of our list) heard we were searching and proactively told us of an unadvertised apartment available in her complex. She was touting us to the landlord to boot because she knew us and thought it would be great for our kids to play together. Needless to say, the new apartment and it’s location sold us that this was the best place for our family. Things are moving forward thankfully.
But I realized that I hadn’t taken my own advice.
I knew this family lived in the complex we wanted (and was a bit jealous) but I never thought to “informational interview” the Mom despite countless opportunities at school pick-ups and drop-offs. I had the perfect person in my network to help us get just what we wanted and I hadn’t thought to ask.
Perhaps too many of us are doing the same thing and making our job searches harder than they have to be. Here’s an easier way to get what you want:
- Think right now about your dream/ideal.
- Now think about your network.
- Who is where you want to be? Who are you jealous of?
- Now ask if he/she’d be willing to share with you how they got there.
Suspend all doubt. Trust that you already know the exact person who can help you to your ideal. Even if you think you’ve exhausted your network, I bet there’s someone somewhere you’re forgetting about. Go ahead and ask if they would share with you how they got to where they are. Chances are if asked, they will not only help you, but also share opportunities that match just what you’re looking for. Read my advice on what to do when you land on informational interview in this recent Fast Company article.