The Creative Career Search
A creative career search involves a creative, active approach to researching careers and making job applications. Rather than being passive (reading books and surfing the Web) and reactive (waiting for a vacancy to appear before making an application) you take the initiative in finding out what is involved in a career or about job opportunities.
‘Information interviewing’ is basically talking to people about the work they do and can be a great help in making career decisions. It will enable you to:
- Gather information about various careers by speaking to professionals in those fields.
- Learn what types of job opportunities exist in a given field/organisation.
- Develop contacts with key people who either do the hiring or who know those who do.
- Enhance your confidence and improve your interview skills by speaking to a variety of professionals in a non-threatening, open-ended situation.
- Visit people in a variety of work settings to gain insight into different working environments.
Remember, you are not asking the person for a job: you are gathering information on which to base decisions. Make sure your contacts understand this. Explain how you obtained the person’s name, e.g. the Careers Network, a friend who works at the same company.
Unless the person has asked you to call him/her directly, it is best to write a letter or send an email explaining your intention to arrange a meeting. Follow up your letter with a phone call to set the appointment time, asking for just a few minutes. The meeting may well last much longer than this, but if you only ask for a short time, you’re more likely to be seen.. Be punctual and professional. If they say that they haven’t got vacancies, reassure them that it’s information you want.
You need to go to the interview having done as much reading as you can about the job, so that you come across to your new contact as a clued-up and interested person over whom it’s worth taking time and trouble.
- Take a notebook in which you have written the questions you want to ask and also use it to take notes.
- Be prepared to take the lead in the conversation, if necessary. Remember, you are interviewing him/her.
- Respect the person’s time. Be appreciative without being apologetic and plan a manageable agenda. Do not wear out your welcome.
- Recognise that everyone has his/her own attitudes, biases and feelings which must be evaluated. By talking to several people, you will gain a variety of opinions.
- Keep your eyes open for other clues about the organisational environment.
- At the end of the interview, ask if there is anyone else that they can recommend you to see, thus extending your network.
- Send a thank you letter immediately following the interview. You can also use this to tactfully remind your contact of anything they promised to do.
It’s perfectly possible to conduct an information interview over the phone if you can’t get to visit an organisation because it’s too far away. Although it’s not so effective, you can talk to more people more quickly this way. Again, remember to prepare your questions in advance.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AT AN INFORMATION INTERVIEW
- What do you do as a ….?
- How do you spend a typical day/week?
- What kinds of problems do you deal with?
- What are your major responsibilities?
- What do you find most/least satisfying about your job?
- What is the competition for jobs like in this career?
- Where are vacancies advertised?
- What would you look for in a new applicant for the work?
- What sort of salary could I expect?
- Is there a typical career pattern for new graduates in this field?
- How is performance at work assessed?
- Which parts of this field are expanding and likely to offer opportunities in the future ?
- What is the ‘‘work culture’’ here? i.e. is it very informal, formal, do people work autonomously, does everyone come in early, stay late?
- What are the typical entry level jobs?
- What are the toughest challenges that your organisation is facing?
- Are there any professional journals in this field that I should read or professional bodies that might be helpful in providing information?
- Are there any related careers that I could consider?
- Could you look over my CV and offer suggestions for improvement?
- Do I appear to lack any skills or qualifications that would be necessary?
- Can you suggest anyone else to whom I might talk?
- Are there opportunities for workshadowing or voluntary work experience?
These are only suggestions – you may have questions to ask that are more relevant to your personal situation. Source: University of Kent. CLICK HERE for link to original article