Information Interviews – Part Two

You should dress in a professional way when you meet someone to talk about their job.

For women a pantsuit would be appropriate or a skirted suit. Or other modern not casual attire.

For men this would be a suit. Or other modern attire that is not casual either.

Bring a smart portfolio with a notepad inside to take notes. Tells the person you’d like to take notes.

Show up on time. Even though it’s not an actual interview.  You can show up 10 minutes early not any earlier.

Figure out beforehand the best transit route to get there.

Ideally, you’ll meet others in person for the purpose of getting an information interview.

Yet regardless of whether you meet in person or simply get the OK to send them your questions via e-mail other options exist:

You can chat with them via FaceTime or Skype or other video chat device.

Again, dress sharp even if you’re at home at your desk Skyping with this person. Remove the clutter from your background.

You can practice or role play conducting the interview with a friend or other peer or therapist.

I’ll end here with this: it’s possible to obtain just enough detailed information about a job or career or particular business from Internet and LinkedIn research.

Think like a businessperson. Seek out information about new jobs and careers coming up on the horizon. Jobs exist today that were unheard of 10 years ago.

And remember: to enjoy yourself as you navigate the process of looking for work.

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Conducting an Information Interview

Yes–when I was in college and took a Career Preparation course I had to conduct an information interview with a person in a possible career.

I interviewed the Personnel Director of Gerber’s a long-defunct clothing store where I lived. It was in business in the 1980s.

Conducting an information interview is like speed-dating: the the quicker version of doing an internship or working at an actual job.

In a short amount of time you sit down with a person who works at the kind of job you’re interested in getting.

Only you’re not applying for the job. You’re asking this person pertinent questions about the field they’re employed in so that you can better assess whether you might like to have that kind of job or career. Or whether it would be a great next step to get an internship in this field.

How would you go about finding a person to interview? You might have a Facebook friend working in this job. Or simply by posting a request on Facebook you might find a person who is or who knows of someone who is employed at this job.

You can also scroll through your LinkedIn connections–an even better way to find people. You can joined LinkedIn groups in different fields too. Then you can assertively yet politely ask the members of that group if anyone is available for an information interview.

Be cordial and confident in requesting this help. Frame it in terms of talking to them for say 20 minutes or a half hour. This kind of interview should be shorter. It should be at the other person’s discretion if they want to extend your interview any longer.

The best way to frame your request if you ask me is to flatter the person you’re requesting this help from. Having read an article they published or having heard in the news about something they did can be your introduction.

Though hundreds of other people will have read or heard this too you can stand out by remembering to request only 20 minutes to a half hour of their time.

Be positive and proactive in how you request that a person give you an information interview. You might introduce yourself by giving a selling point about yourself that makes you stand out from others who would request this person’s time too.

Remember this dictum: WIIFM: What’s In It For Me. That’s what another person wants to know when you or I come calling with a request for their time, money, expertise or whatever we want to get from them.

I’ll end here with some possible questions to ask when you conduct an information interview:

First: do not ask a question you can find the answer to by Googling it.

A short list of questions:

What do you like and dislike about your particular job?

Were there any courses in college that you took that better prepared you once you got the actual job?

What personality traits or productive habits would help a person succeed in this job or career?

What is it like on a typical day to work at this job?

What kinds of skills, traits, and background would benefit the kind of employer you work for?

Would there be other jobs similar to your job in this field that might be worth exploring? Can you name one or two?

Any parting words of advice or ideas about working at a job like this or in this field?

Then of course:

Thank them for their time.

That’s it: 7 questions.

And remember to send an e-mail or a handwritten letter via postal mail thanking the person for taking the time out of their busy schedule to meet with you. Within 24 hours.

The fact is: a job you read about or get tested out as possibly being suitable might not appeal to you once you’ve heard about it from a person who has that job or career.

It’s called gathering facts then using your intuition to judge the best first course of action.

I’ll end here by saying that sometimes you just have to work at an actual job to rule out or confirm whether you like it. If so keep in mind what I wrote in the prior blog entries.

You can always click on the Careers category in the cloud to read the blog entries on this topic.

 

Career Pathfinder Options

It’s possible to find your right-fit career without wasting undue time in a series of jobs that aren’t right for you.

This is where taking into consideration what I’ve written could give you ideas. The career databases talked about in the last blog entry might help.

The tip about the numerology chart I don’t give lightly or out of the blue. When you resist doing what you’re called to do in this particular lifetime: you can have added stress, not be effective at your job, and be far from happy with how your life is.

It turned out that I couldn’t and wouldn’t be successful in a buttoned-up corporate office. I needed to have a job where I could be creative and where I could call the shots.

How can you figure out what jobs to rule out or pass on? I say: it comes down to your personality.

Taking a long hard look at your past failures if you’ve had any will give you an idea. Thinking about a job you had that you particularly liked will help too.

If you haven’t had a job before perhaps the information I’ve given in these blog entries can help you narrow down your first career avenue to go down.

Your first job might not be ideal. Yet it can give you the skills, experience, and knowledge to use as the springboard for finding your next job.

I recommend working in a public library for those of us loathe to wear a suit and tie or a skirted suit to our jobs.

If a person isn’t temperamentally suited to work in an office tons of other careers exist.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk in detail about doing an information interview with people who are already employed.

It’s a good way to find out about various careers.

Career Search Help

Over the years I’ve taken some tests that have given possible careers I would be good at.

For a fee you can take the Kolbe A Index test.

Years ago I was able to take this quiz for free as part of a National Heart Health Month promotion. My Natural Advantage is that of an Entrepreneur according to the Kolbe A Index.

A few years ago when I started this blog I wrote about the Career Matchmaker quiz available on the Career Cruising database.

You can take this quiz for free if you have a Brooklyn Public Library library card. The Career Cruising database can be used on the Brooklyn Public Library website.

It’s accessed via the Learn link and then by clicking on Learning Resources. There you’ll see a list of databases that are free to use with your library card barcode and password.

Your own public library system might have the Career Cruising database or a different career database.

The Career Matchmaker quiz generates a list of your Top 40 careers. Three of my Top 40 careers were writer, career counselor, and activist. They were listed as Very Good Matches.

I took this quiz 14 years after I started my librarian job. Librarian was also one of the Top 40 careers.

This test if you ask me is a great free resource along with the career information on the Career Cruising database.

Another way of finding out what your best possible career might be I have to tell you is numerology.

I recommend the website Creative Numerology

The Personal Profile is not cheap. It costs $95 for a PDF version you can print up.

Yet it can provide eerily accurate intelligence about your life purpose.

I’ve been told not to write about numerology in terms of using it to help discover your ideal career. Yet I would be remiss in not offering this as an option for those of you who are willing to go down this route as one of your job search strategies.

My own Profile stated I should be involved in humanitarian efforts as part of my job. So you can see there’s something to this.

Lastly: I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test which has been the subject of a new book titled The Personality Brokers. I was able to be given the test for free when I talked with a therapist who was also a career counselor by day.

The equivalent personality type test is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.

You can take this for free on the Keirsey website. It’s just as good as the formal Myers-Briggs.

In a coming blog entry I’m going to talk more about career discovery options for peers. Today there are more and better options for what you can do living in recovery.

 

The Business of You – Part Two

My experience shows that where you start out working isn’t always where you should continue.

In 1990 my choice to take a job as an administrative assistant hinged on earning money so I could live in my own apartment.

Seven months after starting this first job I moved into a studio near the beach.

This job led me down the rabbit hole of pursuing an ill-fitting career.

I was young. I wanted to make tons of money. I thought this is what you did: work in corporate offices.

Boy, was that a mistake.

Going out of the frying pan of the insurance field jobs into the fire of a law office job only prolonged my career distress.

Managing the Business of You is predicated on knowing yourself and what your ideal work environment is.

That’s where doing information interviews and getting internships or doing volunteer work in different fields can help you narrow down the kind of workplace you thrive in.

Just thinking of the miserable time I spent in those office jobs gives me agony.

The purpose in interviewing people who work at various jobs is to see the possibilities that await you.

The fact is numerous careers exist as of today 2019.

Veering off the beaten path can help you find the job that’s the right fit.

Using the Occupational Outlook Handbook can help you research careers. In addition O*Net online offers information on various jobs.

When you collect SSI or SSDI there’s no rush to jump into taking the first job that comes your way.

I don’t recommend settling for less even though I took an administrative assistant job so that I could book out of public housing quickly.

There are better options and more options for the kinds of jobs you can do today.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about tests you can take that could help you figure out better options for your ideal career.

The Business of You – Part One

My experience can show others that one of two things is possible:

You loved your job or career when you started it and today it no longer thrills you.

You thought that this particular job or career was the one you wanted. And when it doesn’t work out you’re forced to confront you led yourself astray.

There’s hope in either scenario. There’s hope for avoiding making a 9-year mistake like I did working in the wrong career. There’s always hope.

I call the method I recommend promoting The Business of You.

Thinking like a salesperson will enable you to market yourself as the one perfect candidate for the job you’re applying for.

If You is the brand, then marketing your business like a salesperson makes sense.

Great sales veterans qualify their leads when deciding which prospective clients to pitch to. Once they research their ideal customer they then remember these two sales dictums:

“Don’t try to sell the customer a blue shirt if all he wants is a white one.”

“Sell the benefit not the feature” of the product.

Power listing your skills, traits, and experience on a piece of paper gives you the features of your product–You the brand you’re selling to an employer.

What is the benefit to the employer of hiring you?

Researching yourself and your ideal work environment will enable you to qualify your job leads.

So many of us are convinced we have to take any old job just to pay the rent and put food on the table. That’s not such a great bargain when our mental health suffers as we continue to show up to a job that’s an ill fit.

In the next blog entry The Business of You – Part Two I talk about how to qualify your job leads.

Once you have a better idea of the career that is the right fit for you right now you can then start conducting a targeted job search.

Finding a Career You Love

About a year ago I read a scathing book titled Do What You Love and Other Lies.

The author excoriated this method of obtaining a job.

Her most famous analogy was that of individuals with PhDs who can’t get tenured positions at colleges and universities. They’re hired as adjunct professors making barely above the minimum wage. They’re forced to pay their own expenses to attend academic conferences.

We cannot ignore the reality that some jobs pay a dismal salary.

What is the remedy? Having a “side hustle”–a second source of income–is imperative when your primary job isn’t high-paying.

It’s better to have two jobs you love than one soul-sucking job.

The point is you should not hate your job as a matter of course. Continuing to show up to a job you hate you might be tempted to numb how you feel with food, street drugs or alcohol, or expensive vacations you can’t afford.

How might you figure out the kind of job or jobs that earn you a livable salary that you’re inherently happy to go to?

I created a method to do this which is predicated on promoting The Business of You.

The first step when you’re collecting SSI or SSDI or attending school is to create what I call an Action Grid: doing work in a variety of fields first. You can get experience in one field for three to five months then move on to another field for three to five months.

Here’s how:

Getting an internship or doing volunteer work in one field and then getting an internship or doing volunteer work in a second field and then a third field can help you narrow down the job or career you want to work at first.

Conducting an information interview with a person working at a job you’re considering doing is also a method for ruling out or verifying what you want to do.

This isn’t an interview for a job. You’re asking the person for advice on what they like and dislike about their job, what skills, traits, and experiences they have that benefit them on the job, and other salient questions.

Armed with this information you’ll get a clearer sense of the path you might like to go down.

People who collect SSI or SSDI are in the perfect position to do these things while unemployed.

Taking these action steps can help you determine what career is the right fit for you right now.

I recommend doing more than one internship while you’re searching for a full-time job. I helped a woman with a career search who listed 3 internships on her resume to account for what she was doing while unemployed.

Eighty-five percent of hiring managers think volunteer work is impressive according to one study. Doing volunteer work linked to a future job or doing an internship can set you apart from scores of job candidates without this kind of experience on a resume.

I’ll end here with this positive advice:

It’s not ever too late in life to get a job you love.

It wasn’t until I was 35 years old that I found my ideal career.

I worked with a guy who had collected a disability check. When he turned 55 he said: “This is it. No more. I want to get a job.” He was able to obtain a job as a peer advocate.

In coming blog entries I’m going to talk about promoting The Business of You, which is a visionary method of finding the job you love that can pay a livable salary.