Quick Tip

Unemployment Quick Tip: The Power of Informational Interviews

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I often challenged the long-term unemployed to a game of Informational Interview Bingo.

It’s where they have to conduct five informational interviews a week for five weeks. (If they do all 25, their bingo card would be filled.)

By the end, if they don’t have a job, or are at least in the process of being considered for one, I lose.

However, I’ve never lost. Here’s why:

  • They either don’t do the five interviews per week to fill the card.
  • They do the interviews and get a job before the card is filled.

Informational Interviews Are Game-Changers!

Why do I push my unemployed job seekers to do informational interviews? Because they work!

Plain and simple: When you start having meaningful, professional conversations with people in your field, you gain confidence, energy, and momentum.

Talking to others gets you referred – and that gets you hired. You must make the effort to meet with as many people as you can to have discussions around work. It’s the only way to show people your skills and abilities.

Plus, it makes you memorable. Meaning, when they hear about a job, they’ll remember to refer you to it.

Don’t underestimate the power of informational interviews. Honestly, the hardest part about them is setting them up.

Yet, there are 1,000s of people out there online you can find and connect with as a way to ask for informational interviews. All it takes is a little effort.

How much is a job worth to you?

I think enough to want to set up five informational interviews each week. Try it and you’ll be saying, “BINGO!” before you know it.

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J.T. O'Donnell

Job Search & Career Expert. Syndicated Speaker & Author. Wife. Mother. CEO of CAREEREALISM Media. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

5 comments

  1. I agree with Anne that it is very difficult to set up 5 informational interviews in a week let alone for 5 consecutive weeks. The fact is that most people are incredibly uncomfortable reaching out to others for counsel and advice. As a career coach, I consistently encourage clients to meet with those in their industry or an industry they are targeting. The connections they gain from those conversations are extremely valuable. Any sales person would agree that you can’t make a sale without picking up the phone. The job seeker will not get a job unless they make the right connections. Informational interviews can make the difference.

  2. If I were the one being asked (unless the seeker is still in school), I could hardly fail to see them as looking for an in with the company. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I can’t imagine feeling flattered that they wanted to speak with me, given that condition. I would just be a potential handhold they’d use to climb aboard. There’s nothing so unique or valuable about my “insights” that I’d expect anyone to seek my counsel under any other circumstances.

    The inverse of that is exactly how I would expect to be seen by anyone with whom I requested such an interview. I can’t shake the image of the supplicant.

    • Supplicant today. Potential business partner or reference later. I spent the summer of 2012 networking intensively, often with people who were working for companies I had absolutely no interest in. I probably met 30 or 40 different new contacts and can say that I have been able to give back to at least half of the kind folks that took 15 minutes out of their day to chat. In some informational meetings I was able to offer a solution, or at least a new perspective, for an existing business problem. In other cases, I was able to link up networking contacts that would be able to help each other. And finally, since getting back to work, I have referred several contacts to others and brought them new business they would otherwise have missed. Neither party in the networking game has anything to lose.

  3. Scott, they do exist, but my guess at why J.T. has never lost this bet is that it is just about impossible to get 5 informational interviews a week for five weeks! The comment: “Honestly, the hardest part about them is setting them up” is the ultimate truth. It’s a very aggressive goal to get five in one week; to repeat that for four successive weeks is kind of like suggesting that a casual jogger set running a marathon five weeks in a row as a goal. This goal may be achievable, but it doesn’t seem all that realistic – and having an unrealistic goal that you don’t achieve could contribute to the cycle of self-doubt and negative thinking. Just my opinion.

  4. Informational interviews are a myth; they don’t exist. If you are employed it may be possible, but for the unemployed, it’s not going to happen.

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