“Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Last week at a night out, a friend of mine mentioned wanting to transition into another career. With long hours and little room for creativity, Law was not what she saw herself doing in the long run. The dilemma? She didn’t know where to start.
Sound familiar? Navigating career change can be overwhelming. Cue the Information Interview: a conversation that allows you to connect with others who are making strides in workplaces or positions that interest you. In the process, you may discover a new direction for yourself, or gain insight into a career option you’ve been pondering.
How to begin? Here are some simple steps:
1. Know yourself. Conduct a SWOT analysis to assess your strengths, skills and weaknesses. Once you have a solid sense of your expertise, ask yourself: what sectors or specific positions interest you? What skills would you like to build on? Articulate a vision for yourself. Create a Career Vision Statement!
2. Reach out. Check out LinkedIn, Twitter and industry specific websites. Create a profile on tenthousandcoffees.com, where you can request a coffee with another professional. Looking for international opportunities? Levo.com may be just right for you.
3. Connect. Keep it professional. Contact those who are far down a path you are considering, or who can help you enter your desired sector. Send an introductory and (brief) tailored email that demonstrates your knowledge of your contact’s role and career history, along with details about your own experiences. Be clear about what you would like to gain from the conversation. Emphasize that you are happy to work around your contact’s schedule.
4. Meet. Dress well and keep it neutral! Coffee shops are easy and perfect. After offering to treat your guest to a drink or a bite to eat, stick to a 20 minute time limit. If your guest wants to continue, by all means!
5. “But what do I say…?” Ask a few leading questions, and then let the conversation flow. You are free to bring a resume, but only produce it if asked to do so.
6. Life is a two way street! Always thank your interviewee, and offer your time or resources in exchange. Keep in touch with your contacts, even if it’s a simple hello and check-in now and then. You never know where your conversations may lead!