Hello SOTGC community,
People give a great deal of well-intentioned advice for how to secure your first job or your next job. In this competitive world, the advice we should all listen to is: connecting with others is essential for networking your way to your next career opportunity. Easier said than done, I know. Let me share with you a key method for building a network.
The first real job I secured was in my senior year of college through the career office at my university. Since then, every job I secured was through the help of friends, colleagues, family members, co-workers and one of my employees. Yes, one of my employees! She took a job with a progressive Fortune 500 company and soon asked me to consider doing the same. She connected me to a hiring manager and for the next five years I worked for one of the best employers in the country!
During those five years I learned a valuable method for creating networks and finding the work that I love. That method is called an informational interview. This is where you talk to someone who currently has the job or career you hope to have someday.
Here’s how it works: you introduce yourself through a phone call, or an email, asking if they would consider spending 60 minutes speaking to you about their current job or role, so you can learn more about it. Unlike a regular interview, an informational interview is not stressful because you get to ask the questions you want to ask in order to learn more about the position they hold. I utilize this method often, and not only do I learn more about a job, but I make new friends and associates who have similar job interests like mine. People are willing to spend this time with you because they like to talk about the work they do and meet others who have like-minded interests like theirs.
About four years ago, my mentor asked me what I’d like to do in the next 3 to 5 years. My current role at the time was in Human Resources (H.R.) covering a national scope of work. Upon hearing her question, I knew I wanted to do H.R. at a global level. My mentor gave me the name of a professional who was doing this work. I scheduled an informational interview with him. He didn’t know what an informational interview was but he knew I was interested in learning more about what he did. I came prepared to the meeting with questions asking about his role, what he liked about international human resources, what was his education and background experience. Soon we were talking back and forth about his work and his foreign travels. I learned international H.R. was a niche’ occupation and I left taking his advice on how to prepare for a career in international H.R. I sent him a thank you and kept in touch with him. When an opening came up to work for him, he reached out to me and I got the position.
When we get these opportunities, people will ask “how did you do it?” They don’t understand that we create our own opportunities through our work performance and connecting with those who are on the career path ahead of us. Don’t wait until you’re out of a job to connect with others. Do it as part of your yearly development routine and remember success is when preparation meets opportunity.
Here’s to your success!