Informational interviewing is when you make contact with people you assume can help/aid you in your job search. You ask them questions about their work, trends in the industry/profession, with the intent being that they might offer you an important job lead. If this is how you define informational interviewing, it’s not a technique you should try. This approach just doesn’t work. Despite what you’ve read or what you’ve been told, this technique can be fatal to your career search.
The reason why this isn’t effective is because the whole premise is false and ultimately alienates contacts. Your goal, instead of being to get a job lead, is to build your network of contacts. That’s it. It’s not a short-term strategy to land a position. It’s about building relationships with others in a professional way that is mutually beneficial.
Any of my clients reading this can tell you that I’m a fan of making personal contacts when you’re making a job or career change. As a matter of fact, I spend a lot of time with clients strategizing ways that they can be super-effective in expanding their networks. Clients who spend some time getting clear about how they will approach contacts and develop a strategy for utilizing their new-found contacts, have a much higher success rate than those who just read a couple of articles about it and then jump in.
What I notice is that most job searchers/seekers don’t know how to effectively make connections (which is really what informational interviewing is) or how to cultivate and maximize them. Which is really too bad… because most people can learn how to do it (and it’s not nearly as hard as they might think!) It also takes time. Practice. Patience. But make no mistake – it’s not a short-term strategy.