The Job Forum recently hosted an industry spotlight event, especially for young job hunters, titled: “The Importance of Informational Interviewing.” In this highly anticipated Workforce of the Future event, job seekers learned about the intricacies of this informal conversation. In other words, the “Do’s and Dont’s” which separate these professional inquiries from a job interview. With Roger Brooks as our master of ceremonies and Jason Slamovich holding down the fort as moderator, we welcomed 4 professionals to the Wednesday night panel. Those who attended included Judson Walsh, job market consultant at Career Path Strategies, Hannah Strack as global assignment coordinator at Cultural Awareness International, Maria Costen, cross platform account executive for Disney ABC 7 and lastly, Tina Choi, tech transformation practice lead at Propeller. Below you’ll discover some key insights collected from our wonderful subject matter experts.
What is an Informational Interview?
To get the ball rolling, I like to define this term as a relationship-building conversation that can help inspire a job seeker to make informed career decisions. This is your ticket to a fun and fascinating way of exploring an industry, company culture, or existing professional networking. In the words of Judson Walsh, “In order to be effective in the job search, an information gathering stage should take place.” Whatever stage you may find yourself on the career journey, an informational interview will grow your visibility in the job market. We all know how frustrating it is to be stuck in the black hole of job applications without any friendly voices to steer us in the direction of hope. An informational interview is essential today and can ultimately boost self esteem. Now let’s look into a few details about how to ensure a mutually-beneficial chat takes place.
DOs and DON’Ts
Forgive me for beating a dead horse but there is no way around the fact we all have demanding personal and professional calendars. If you’re requesting an informational interview with a Linkedin connection, lay out a few dates on the calendar to hold this 20-30 minutes chat. This is where your preparation and direction will come handy: Showing that you’ve done research plants the idea of credibility in the other person’s mind. My personal favorite DO is tied to following up with gratitude and appreciation. As many of your questions are answered in the informational interview, it’s nice to send a thank you afterwards or update them on further updates on your journey. In any human relationship, it’s wonderful to learn about shared hobbies, interests, or business connections. Many new experiences are right around the corner and they begin with a strong direction in your planning.
If you’ve made it this far, I’m ready to fire off a few informational interview no-nos. Please don’t let one negative experience sour your job search. There is always the chance of a no-show after scheduling a call or even finding out from a sought-after career path no longer floats your boat. It’s very valuable in this process to temper expectations as well as consult several sources. The legendary martial artist and actor Bruce Lee eloquently stated, “Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skillful, swift, and steady.” Just as you might diligently study for an on-site interview at your dream company, work on treating the informational interview the same way. Coming in ill-prepared is a waste of everyone’s time in this sort of dynamic. As the sherpa of this conversation, things can’t be too casual or else your pressing questions may not be addressed.
As I embarked on a career switch from Quality Assurance to Marketing in 2022, learning about courses, skills, and communities was important in my development. Chats I had with old co-workers and newer Linkedin connections informed me on the benefits of building a website to showcase content writing. This jump started my understanding of email marketing, SEO, and other social media trends. I was floored to have one individual proof some of my articles as well as share certifications they found relevant for fresh professionals. Sure, I felt it was a bit daunting sending requests via message or patiently waiting for responses. However my confidence started to brim as my notebook filled up with a wealth of knowledge. All the luck with informational interviews and positive growth that lies ahead!
The Job Forum is honored to have had an outstanding foursome deliver countless wisdom for job seekers last month. As San Francisco Bay Area’s longest running job search career service, we hope to be of assistance for you! See you at The Job Forum.
Marketing Intern at The Job Forum