Information interviews: key to your dream job, if you know what to do
June 8, 2012 | Jewish Tribune
I am currently working as an inside sales representative at an IT company. I’m getting positive feedback on my performance from my manager and team members. I am meeting my monthly sales quotas and am considered by my manager and peers as an excellent team player. I work hard and put in long hours. But this is not my dream job. I would love to work as a project manager who helps organizations streamline their business systems and processes to be more effective and productive. On my own time, I enjoy designing flowcharts, researching, data collection and analysis, reporting and presenting the results. All these skills are part of my dream job as a business analyst. But, I also love working with teams, people and influencing others in a sales type way. How can I pursue my dream career while working full time?
Do Dream Jobs Come True?
Dear Dream Jobs,
Kudos to you for having a dream and going after it, especially pursing a career path that you are interested in. My first suggestion is to move into a mind-set of a business analyst by researching as much as possible about the profession and collecting facts and data on the career and its path required including experience, education and skills. Take small steps first. Information is power; and implementation is even more powerful. So, I would recommend facilitating information interview sessions with professionals whose job you would like to have one day.
As you already apply as a sales representative, I would follow the sales model of business. Research companies in the sector and/or industry you are interested in (for example IT) which hire business analysts and (and where you might be interested in working one day). Then, prospect for an employed business analyst who you could cold call to ask for about 10-15 minutes of his/her time to talk on the phone or email to get information about this profession. LinkedIn, BeKnown, Facebook, and Twitter are great places to start for online networking and search out the names of people in positions to eventually cold call to secure an information session. And then cold call with a follow up email and try to secure a meeting.
Some tips on how to conduct information interviews and the questions to ask are at http://www.canadiancareers.com/infointerview.html.
According to JVS Toronto Job Search Workshop Manual 2010, prepared by our employment counselors, here are some strategies and suggestions on how to conduct information interviews.
An information interview is a meeting between you and someone who is already working in/hiring for a position similar to the one you are interested in for the purpose of research and networking. Information interviews are a powerful tool when researching an occupation, field, or specific company or agency. Many have used this technique to prepare and target their resumes, determine the skills that employers are looking for and predict which questions are most likely to be asked during an interview.
Some key points to remember about information interviews:
• They usually take 15-20 minutes, allow you to ask key questions that are not answered in books or on websites and get an inside look at companies/agencies you are interested in;
• They help to establish contacts in the field you have targeted and is not a sneaky way to ask for a job.
• Remember to dress neatly and conservatively, arrive 5 or 10 minutes ahead of time, and bring a folder with a list of questions and information, a pad of paper, your resume and a business or calling card.
Follow up is critical after an information meeting. Send a thank you letter or email as soon as possible. Make reference to one point of interest from your discussion.
Continue the relationship and keep the person up to date, especially regarding tips or referrals that were given. Ask, but do not expect each contact to shaire his/her network. You are in the process of building your own professional network.
Hope this helps you with the first major step in figuring out if this indeed is a profession for you to pursue, whether there are actual employment opportunities, what certification and accreditation is required, and how will you attain the actual experience on your resume.
To submit your questions for this column in confidence, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanna has a B.A., B.Ed. and is a certified Life Skills Coach and Career Management Fellow who is a team lead of employer services and job developer at Jewish Vocational Services (JVS Toronto).
EMETemployment, a division of ©Jewish Vocational Service (JVS Toronto) is a free confidential employment support and referral service for job seekers from the Jewish community. In addition, EMETemployment offers employers recruitment services at no cost. For more information, please visit www.emetemployment.ca.