You’re fresh out of college, looking for a job. Or maybe you’ve just finished up a graduate degree. Or perhaps you are looking to transition into a new field. You are ready to take on a new career, but are unsure of where to start. What are employers looking for, anyway?
In the age of technology, everyone loves a good Google search. But the internet isn’t the one doing the hiring, people are. The simple solution is to ask people who match your intended career path about the job; what it entails, and what skills are required.
This, my friends, is called an informational interview. It is a magical means of obtaining valuable information about jobs you are interested in and discovering what qualifications you need to obtain to secure such a position.
Here are the ins, outs, and potential benefits of informational interviews:
1) The “hidden” job market
The percentage of jobs that goes unadvertised is not an agreed upon number, some stats say as many as 80% of jobs are unadvertised (this number was listed by the Wallstreet Journal also), while other numbers fall in the 60% range. No matter who you believe it is a big number. This “hidden” job market exists mainly because employers want to fill positions with someone they know before going through the arduous, time consuming and expensive process of advertising and multiple rounds of interviews and calling references, etc. An informational interview connects a face to a name, which can be a valuable connection in case positions open up.
2) Nothing like some networking!
The more people who get to know you, your winning personality, your career goals and your interest in the field, the more chance of having a first crack at a job opening they may know of.
3) I don’t want to be bothersome
A golden rule: most people love talking about themselves. An informational interview is a way for an individual to share their success story, and maybe sneak out of the office for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. And because they usually last an hour or less, it is unlikely that you will a drain on precious work time. Sounds like an offer that’s too good to refuse.
4) It’s all about attitude
If you have the right attitude, informational interviews can be, dare we say it… fun. You get to meet a lot of new and interesting people, learn about different careers and you may even end up with a free lunch or a deliciously frothy cappuccino.
5) But what if I already have a job?
Job search in this generation is a lifelong endeavor. Many interesting people are looking for the next big thing to transition into even if they have a good, stable job. Careers are built by collecting skills from different positions until you find something you really enjoy, so going on informational interviews is fine even if you currently have a job. You are just seeing what’s out there, after all!
6) Practice makes perfect
For most individuals, interviewing doesn’t come naturally. Informational Interviews are a great opportunity to practice talking to people in an interview setting, without the pressure. In an informational interview you are the one asking the questions, which will also make it easier to understand the other side’s perspective during your next job interview.
It takes time to develop confidence in who you are, how to be comfortable presenting yourself, and how to best approach talking about your career. Informational interviews are a great way to network, build your brand, and prepare for new opportunities.