Why Informational Interviews are the Key to Successful Networking

If you are considering a career switch, the first and most significant obstacle you face is getting your foot through that first new door. Employers seem only to want candidates who have already done exactly what they are looking for over a number of years, at the exclusion of promising candidates who want to do that job, but are in a different or alternative function. To get over this hump, conducting as many informational interviews as possible is key to a successful networking strategy that will increase your odds of changing career paths. Here are the top three reasons why.

 

Informational Interviews are the Key to Networking (Photo: iStockphoto)

 

Informational interviews are inherently informal
During an informational interview, you are free to ask about anything on your mind regarding the job or industry you are looking to enter. Sitting down with someone in this kind of interaction is not stressful; typically it is quite friendly and more informal. As such, the person you are talking to will be more likely to speak candidly about the pros and cons of the type of work you are pursuing and you can glean a number of helpful tips to help brand you for a future career switch or job search.

You can learn about jobs that aren’t even listed publicly
During an informational interview, ask the person with whom you are meeting about available opportunities in their company or group. It’s a fair question and nothing should hold you back — both of you know that you are there conducting your due diligence to find out how you can break into a new job. Being straightforward and direct will actually reflect well on you.

Informational interviews can lead to introductions to influencers and decision makers
Before concluding an informational interview, be sure to kindly ask for introductions to up to five additional people (the more, the better!) to find out if you can ask them questions about what they do and how they got into the company. Your interviewee will usually be happy to introduce you around the office if he or she liked you and thought well of your conversation. Don’t be shy!

Informational interviews are a fantastic, non-intimidating way to get your name and face in front of companies or jobs into which you are trying to career switch. Pursue any opportunity to meet people informally as aggressively as you can and you will increase your odds of being asked to come back for a formal interview when an opportunity does arise.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at debra@careersdonewrite.com.

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