5 ways to use informational interviews pivot your career

In the current economy, and with many cities shutting down again, how can you figure out your career path? Informational interviews are a great opportunity

What are informational interviews

Informational interviews or reverse interviews are informal conversations with someone who is in a company or a career path that is of interest to you. They are a great way to find out, informally, of any upcoming positions or opportunities. They are also a great way to learn about the corporate culture of a company or a team. You can use informational interview to learn more about someone's career path or intel on a company.

How can you use informational interviews to leverage your career?

1. Learn about an organization

Whether you are actively applying for jobs or passively keeping an eye out, you can use informational interviews to learn about an organization. Reach out to a mid-level, senior or even Executive in a company and ask questions about the organization. What does it stand for beyond the company website? What are the policies regarding working from home, parental leave? Unofficially what are the hours that folks work? Is it strictly 9 to 5 or are most people expected to put in after hours. This is also a great way to expand your network particularly if you're not desperate for a job.

2. Get yourself out there

Beyond learning about an organization, if you have a unique skillset that could be of interest to a company or a team, use informational interviews to pitch yourself. If your sole goal is to pitch yourself, be clear and upfront from the get go so the person does not think that you are conning them into interviewing you. Schedule a time to chat and ask to discuss more about the company, department or team and then also let them know that yo are reaching out because your profile may be of interest to you. Share your CV and once you have heard about the organization be on active listening mode so you can circle back to how your skill set/education could be a good fit for the organization. This is a great way to be proactive beyond applying passively applying to jobs online

3. Expand your network

When requesting to meet with someone from a company always leave the door open for more connections. In your introductory email, let them know that you are exploring opportunities and would appreciate it if they could share your CV or put you in touch with someone else who could be interested in your profile. When you finally meet with the person, always ask that they share your information or provide you with names of anyone they think might be interested in your profile. While they may not do so, you lose absolutely nothing in asking. You do stand to gain an additional connection or even someone else who you could have an informational interview with. Imagine if you send requests for informational interviews to 5 people and all 5 recommend 2 people each - you just grew your network by 10 new people. You get the drift?

4. Find out who is hiring

In the same vein of expanding your network and getting to know other people, informational interviews can provide you with insights on who is hiring. By chatting with a person from within the organization, they may inform you of managers in their network who are hiring and beyond that you may find out about jobs before they are posted.

5. Meet potential mentors

Be targeted in who you approach for informational interviews. Beyond learning about an organization use informational interviews to scope out potential mentors, particularly those who aren't already in your circle. One of the questions to ask the person you connect with is whether they would be willing to touch base with you on a regular basis to see your progress and also if they could consider being your mentor. In many cases, professionals are very open and willing to support upcoming people in their field particularly if they were also mentored in their career path.

Bottom line: Informational interviews are a great way of learning about an organization, find out who is hiring, connect with potential mentors, expand your network and getting yourself out there.

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