Informational interview

Informational interview (November 11, 2013)

Brazen Careerist

You're on the job search. You've done it; I've done it: Your battle plan consists of applying to every job there ever was, is or will be in any field in which you have a remote interest.

A successful day is making it through applying to 70 jobs you found online, from construction work to being an extra in a movie to participating in lab experiments meant to measure your brain wave activity. Whatever gives you a job.

This tactic works, but only about 5 percent of the time. Unfortunately, you've heard enough stories of people getting hired this way to make you believe it can happen to you, too. And it can -- but that's the worst part, because it becomes your primary job-hunting tactic.

The alternative, "networking," is an evil, awkward, uncomfortable tactic that involves handing your business cards to every working professional you know, rudely begging for a job while wearing your only good shirt. But you can't do that. You don't have any business cards, your one good shirt is wrinkled and you don't know the first thing about approaching a professional to ask for a job.

It's time for a change

Stop applying for every job you can find online. It's time to start networking and give yourself a fighting chance at a full-time job you won't regret applying to after your third day.

Let's talk about informational interviews. An informational interview is a meeting between two people, one who's a professional working in a certain field or industry and one who's looking to learn more about that industry and get their foot in the door.

NOTE: This is not a job interview. It's better in a lot of ways. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)

A successful informational interview will provide you with insider insight about the industry you're passionate about. Meeting up with a professional screenwriter will give you the opportunity to discover information you can't find anywhere else, if you want to be a screenwriter.

Google can only go so far

To learn as much as you can from an informational interview, here are five questions to come prepared with:

What is your day-to-day like? What does your average workday consist of?

What advice would you give someone looking to get their foot in the door of the industry? (Fill in the blank.)

What are common entry-level jobs in the industry?

What are the next steps you'd recommend for someone like me?

Do you know of any jobs available in the industry at the moment?

That last one is for the ballsy individuals (Hint: They're probably going to get a job faster than others).

More importantly, an informational interview gives you a professional connection in an industry you're passionate about. If the interview goes well, make that person a professional connection who likes you.