You need to do information interviews when you’re seeking a new career.
I wonder what a Process Engineer does? I wonder what is involved in being a Product Manager? What is that “Coding” I keep hearing about?
When you find yourself asking, “I wonder…” you know it is time to get more information.
We call those kinds of discussions “information interviews”. Talking to an expert about something you are interested in. A way to confirm or deny a point of view. Gathering information from others to help you reach a conclusion about your life.
Sometimes asking Google just isn’t enough. Sometimes you just have to talk to an expert. Especially in situations involving your career.
Easy enough to say but hard to put into action.
I have clients right now who balk at the idea of talking to someone about career options.
- Laura is killing herself at a project manager job in a consulting firm focused on training and development. She thinks being a Human Resource Business Partner would be a good use of her skills. But she doesn’t have time and is very shy about talking to people she doesn’t know.
- Chantel wants out of her data analytics management role but she is not sure how her skills translate to Marketing Product Manager. The thought of talking to someone about what they do makes her quake.
I am pretty knowledgeable about many careers so I can give guidance but I am not a substitute for talking with someone who is actually doing the job.
Why is it so hard for shy people to talk to gather this information? I can speak from my own experience.
I like to tell people I would rather pick up dog poop in the front yard than pick up the phone to talk to someone I don’t know. It feels like an imposition. I am not sure what to say. I am not sure why anyone would want to talk to me anyway.
The answer is just figure out a way to do it in a manner you can handle.
It got easier for me through repetition. I just gutted through and forced myself to do it often enough that, although I still blanch a bit, I can do it.
Here are some tips that might help you:
- Email can be a less scary way to talk to people. Use our Networking Guide for Job Search Success to create your own email networking process that turns strangers into friends. You can still ask your questions but you won’t be making cold calls. You will be making warm calls. By the time you get to a coffee meeting you will feel like the other person is almost a friend.
- Set realistic goals. Build up your “networking” strength by making one call per day or maybe even one call a week. Set a time every day (or week) that you will force yourself to pick up the phone. Then give yourself a reward for achieving this small but very difficult goal.
- Use a script to reach out. You will feel more confident if you feel prepared. Plan out what the other person might say and how you would respond. Know exactly what you want to ask – a meeting or a simple question about the other person’s career.
- Avoidance is still an option for extremely shy people. You won’t get as much out of the information but it is better than guessing. Do your research online using Google and LinkedIn. The reference librarian at your local library could be a great source of information.
Here is how it worked out for my clients:
- Laura is lucky in that I am very familiar with the Human Resource Business Partner role. I am the expert she can talk to! She plans to avoid networking by using LinkedIn to connect with people associated with HR Business Partner jobs posted online.
- Chantel will read many job descriptions then look at LinkedIn profiles of people who hold the job “Product Manager” to see how those folks describe their jobs. Then she will start adding those folks as LinkedIn connections using the Networking Guide as her model.
These three shy folks found unique ways to get the information they need with less stress. Sometimes a workaround is just what is needed!
If you are shy or introverted there is no shame in that but it may be blocking you from getting the career you want. There is help for you! Get your free copy of the “7 Tips for Career Success for the Shy Person” and begin to step out, beyond these barriers, onto a new career path today.