Q: Last month, after several years
of painful indecision, I finally decided to change careers. Not
knowing how to get started, I hit the library and checked out
several books to help me through the process. All of them
recommended doing information interviews (talking to people in
fields that interest me) to Identify my career niche and uncover
potential job openings available only through the hidden job market.
However, I've read some articles
recently that say information interviewing is a worn out tool; that
people don't have the time or inclination to do it anymore. In an
informal poll of my friends, most agree they wouldn't want to be
bothered by some stranger asking lots of questions about their jobs.
What should I believe? Are
Information interviews passť or are they still a valuable job search
A: Information interviews have
not outlived their usefulness. Potential interviewees are still
willing to do them because:
like to be ''the expert."
like to talk about themselves and their work.
most people like to exercise their altruistic inclinations.
In information interviews, human
nature generally works in your favor if you give it half a chance.
To make the process effective, you must approach it systematically.
It’s the haphazard, unprepared career changer who brings out the
worst in potentially helpful people. To assure yourself the greatest
number of successful contacts, be sure to do the following:
Develop a generic job description that includes the skills,
values and responsibilities you want in your new career. When
people ask, "What do you want to do?" they- don't need a
specific job title. But they do expect an answer that indicates
some serious forethought.
list of intelligent questions that will both get the information
you need and impress your interviewee with your businesslike
approach. Usually asking the person about him or herself is
sufficient. However, a few well-chosen inquiries about his
company or industry can score valuable extra points in building
background on specific organizations, read corporate reports,
trade journals, business magazines or clipping flies before
scheduling your appointment.
list of your friends and their friends, as well as members of
your church, fraternal groups or volunteer organizations. All of
them are potential sources for information interviews, whether
they work in fields that intrigue you or have friends who might.
Naturally, individuals are more amenable to talking to you if
they know that a friend or acquaintance suggested you call.
with the easy interviews and work your way up to the ones that
are scary and require cold calls. If you put these last, your
previous successful experiences will bolster your
self-confidence and motivate you to take risks.
for 30 minutes and don't over stay your time unless your
interviewee's schedule permits and his interest is clear. ∑
send a prompt, typed or handwritten thank you note. This gesture
not only emphasizes your thoughtfulness, but puts your name in
front of a potential employer in a most favorable light.
up if you said you would. Remember, it's your responsibility to
pursue a new career. Don't expect interviewees to get back to
you. That's your job.