What’s the best way to find out about a career? Talk with those who do the work.
In workshops, I ask people how did they get into the work they’re doing today.
Some said: I just fell into it; I knew a company was hiring and thought it would be cool to work there; I needed a job and this offered the most money. Then I ask are you satisfied? Many say no. They now wish they were in another career field.
Recently a survey revealed that almost half of college-educated workers between the ages of 25 and 50 polled said they would choose a different major if they could do it over. The majority of college graduates will have switched careers at least once, and about one in five expect to switch in the future.
How do you make sure you’re not jumping from the frying pan into the fire?
The key is information interviewing. It’s a networking approach which allows you to:
- Gain first-hand, current information from professionals in the fields or careers you are considering
- Expand your knowledge of the job market in the field(s) you want to explore
- Target positions that best fit your particular mix of interests and skills
- Clarify what jobs are really like before you commit yourself
- Evaluate organizations that could be a good match
- Investigate career options – explore different career fields.
Don’t change careers until you know what you’re getting into. By asking questions of people who do the work, you will get the the reality, not some idealized version. Here are some sample questions to ask.
- On a typical day in this position, what do you do?
- What training or education is required for this type of work?
- What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
- What part of this job do you find most satisfying? Most challenging?
- How did you get your job?
- What opportunities for advancement are there in this field?
- What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
- What are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?
- How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?
- Is there a demand for people in this career?
- What special advice would you give a person entering this field?
- What types of training do companies offer persons entering this field?
- What are the basic prerequisites for jobs in this field?
- Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
- What do you think of the experience I’ve had so far in terms of entering this field?
- From your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?
- If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
- With the information you have about my education, skills, and experience, what other fields or jobs would you suggest I research further?
- What do you think of my resume? Do you see any problem Who do you know that I should talk to next? When I call him/her, may I use your name?
Career Success Tip
Information interviewing means meeting with people to ask for information, not a job. It is the career changer’s equivalent of market research. It helps you learn about career fields and job functions that fit your talents. It also helps you evaluate organizations that could be a good match for you. Readers, has information interviewing helped you either in job search or career change? Tell me how!
Do you want to develop Career Smarts?
- For more resources, see the Library topic Career Management.
- Start with the Career Success System.
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- Fast track your career. Be part of a Success Team.
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- Find career and leadership boosters in the Smart Moves Blog.
- Copyright © 2011 Marcia Zidle career and leadership coach.