The power of Informational Interviews when changing career

02/03/2022

woman on laptop informational interviewsBuilding a strong network plays an extremely important role when job searching, especially when you are looking to change direction and enter a new sector all together. To really understand the true realities of working in a new career, researching and creating opportunities to have Informational Interviews can be an effective tool in accelerating your career pivot.

What is an Informational Interview?

Informational Interviews are meetings in which individuals have informal career conversations to gain advice, insight and clarity into roles, companies, or industries they are interested in. Skilfully used, Informational Interviews are one of the most valuable sources of strategic networking. Not only do they expand your network and help you gain insight into other sectors, but they can also open doors to opportunities that wouldn’t have been known about otherwise.

Planning an Informational Interview

Before you request an Informational Interview, make sure you are clear on the purpose of your interaction; are you getting in touch to find out more about the company, exploring entry routes into the business? Perhaps you would like some insight around a certain industry? Once you have determined the purpose of the interview, start by making a list of contacts you believe will be beneficial to your career transition.

In addition to your existing network, you can use LinkedIn, referrals and recommendations to find suitable contacts.

Communicating with your contacts

It is a lot easier to contact someone who knows you and you may find a preferred communication method that you know the contact is more likely to respond to such as an email, phone call or text. However, if you do not know the professional, you will need to be more formal in your approach and be clear on why you are approaching them.

Here is an example informational interview request when approaching a new contact.

Dear [Name], 

My name is [first name] and I currently work at [place you work, if relevant].

I was browsing LinkedIn and came across your profile. I saw that you have extensive experience in [area you are interested in]. I find the work you do incredibly interesting, I’m currently exploring my career options and would like to know more about what you do. I would greatly appreciate understanding more about [insert what you want to know]. I appreciate you will be busy, but would you be available for a remote conversation? [suggest at least one date and time] via phone or video call?

Preparing for an Informational Interview  

It is important to remember that it is not a job interview. Instead, it's an opportunity to collect information about a job, industry, or company you'd like to know more about. You are in control of the conversation so make sure you prepare a list of questions and be prepared to steer the conversation.

You may want to ask questions such as:

  • How did you get into this line of work?
  • What does a typical day look like?
  • What skills are necessary to be successful in this company/role?
  • What’s changing in the sector?
  • Are there any other people in the company or in this sector that you think I should connect with?
Stay connected

People are taking time to support you and provide you with advice regarding your career transition, so it’s important to thank and stay in touch with your network following helpful conversations. Make sure you follow up with a thank you message to build rapport and strengthen relationships with career contacts, this will ensure you enhance the likelihood that they will help with your job search and keep you in mind in the future.

Renovo is the UK’s leading outplacement and career transition specialist. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you, please call 0800 612 2011 or email info@renovo.uk.com

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