Informational interviews are important to your job search because they can give you a clearer idea of what jobs to apply for.
Recent college graduates can get so eager to find any job that they can easily end up in a company, job, or industry that they hate and have to start looking for another job. Or they can feel so overwhelmed by all of the possibilities that they don’t know what their next step should be.
Oddly enough, I experienced both. And I learned that it’s possible for people to not experience either…
By setting up an informational interview and speaking to someone who is already in the career path, industry, or company you are interested in, you can get an insider’s point of view of what it’s like to pursue a certain career. In other words, informational interviews are a chance to figure out your next steps without committing to a job first.
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Here are 5 reasons why informational interviews are important to your job search.
1. A chance to look into a crystal ball
Let’s say you’re interested in social media management. By going on an informational interview with someone who is a social media manager, it’s sort of like looking into a crystal ball. You get to see what:
- it takes to get there
- mistakes this person has made and how you can avoid those same mistakes
- opportunities lie ahead of someone who is a social media manager
Granted if you do pursue a career path similar to the person you are meeting with, your path won’t exactly match theirs. But seeing someone else’s path is a great way to navigate your own.
2. Transparency and candid responses
You can ask about the pros and cons about a company during a formal interview. But the answers you get will be skewed because the interviewer is not in a position to be brutally honest. After all, part of an interviewer’s job is to get you to want to work at that company.
But, if you ask someone during an informational interview about pros and cons, they are more likely to be completely transparent— they are off the clock, they aren’t at the office, and they aren’t obligated to convince you to work with them.
3. You’ll get a better idea of what is needed to make your application stand out
As a fresh-out-of-college graduate, it’s tough to stand out from the crowd because a lot of people have high GPAs and one or two internships under their belt. Not to mention, you might also be competing with people who already have 1-2 years of in-office, full-time work experience.
But when you go on informational interviews, you get a chance to hear from someone on the inside what is needed in the roles you are hoping to get. For example, if you wanted to become a digital marketing coordinator, someone could advise you to get a Google Analytics certificate to stand out from the crowd.
Hint: Informational interviews are especially helpful at the beginning of your job hunt. That’s why we like to do these even before we create a resume, cover letter, and portfolio. Download the Productive Job-Hunting Game Plan so you always know what step to take next in your job search.
4. Learn why people pursue that path and what makes them stay
During informational interviews, you get to the hear the story behind someone’s resume. Hearing that story is key to discovering if you will be happy pursuing a similar path. If you see similarities between the reasons you are interested in a career and the reasons other people go after that career and stay on that path, it could be a good indicator that you would also be happy.
5. Learn what makes them leave that path
Lastly, you get to ask people what could make them leave or what has made other people leave.
This way, you get to hear the not so great side of the career you are thinking of pursuing. Then, you get to decide if the positives outweigh the negative.
You now know why informational interviews are important to your job search — Because you get to hear about:
- what doors will open by pursuing that career
- what you need to do to stand out from the crowd while applying
- the pros and cons of that career path
So now you can be sure you’ll get the most out of your informational interviews. It’s time for you to start setting up those informational interviews (even if they have to be over video chat)! And don’t forget to grab a copy of the free Productive Job-Hunting Game Plan to be sure you are staying on track with your job hunt.