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Create Your Future with Informational Interviewing

Tracy Jenkins, Ph.D., CPC, ELI-MP

Abraham Lincoln once said “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  As a job seeker it can be difficult to believe that you have any control over your career destiny, but in fact, you do, and Informational Interviewing is the key.  Tracy Jenkins, the featured speaker at January’s Jobs Network meeting, knows first-hand the power of Informational Interviewing.  She shared her own compelling story of being out of work and sending out hundreds of applications with no response.  Self-doubt crept in; she eventually became discouraged and disheartened and ended up settling for poor-fitting jobs that further eroded her confidence. 

With the help of a career coach, Tracy learned about Informational Interviewing.  An Informational Interview is a meeting you request to gather information and learn about the real-life experience of someone working in a field or company that interests you.  It’s the process of spending time (usually about 30 minutes) with someone who is successful in their career in a highly focused conversation that provides you with key information you need to choose or refine a career path, learn how to break in and find out if you have what it takes to succeed.. This is also a great way to expand your network of contacts and will likely result in connecting with people who will become key advocates for you.  Keep in mind:  the purpose of informational interviewing is not to get job offers or to find out about job openings within a company so it’s important to keep focused on obtaining information.
It is not appropriate for you to ask for a job at the meeting. 

Tracy did her homework, sent out her initial interview requests and got almost 100% positive responses!  During the Informational Interview process she learned about people’s career paths and the things they liked most about their jobs, gained access to their workplaces and, on two occasions, received job offers!  --and she wasn’t even asking for a job!  She became comfortable with the process and eventually landed in a career that is satisfying and fulfilling.  As an added bonus, the people she interviewed are still an important part of her professional network.  Tracy’s passion for Informational Interviewing clearly showed as she walked the Jobs Network attendees through the steps for using this job and career search method.  These include self exploration, “dressing up” your core skills, identifying appropriate interviewees, conducting the actual interviews, and properly following up.  Create your own future by putting this valuable practice to use!

View Tracy's slideshow and sample Informational Interview questions.

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