You probably first heard about Informational Interviews as a student as it is touted as a great way to get jobs. Then you forgot about them, or thought that they don’t apply to you anymore.
They are great for students, in fact my first job out of university came from an informational interview. But I never turned my back on them and since then, I have still gotten jobs for myself (even for friends), gotten leads and valuable information by never being afraid to ask to talk with someone. Honestly, for me, it has one of the most powerful tools in my career, and not just for networking.
The informational interview has been magical for me in the way that it has changed my life.
So to help you see how powerful they can be, I wanted to share with you my story so that maybe you will feel a little more confident and sure of yourself when embarking on your own informational interviews.
Last May, shortly after my grandfather passed away, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. A common occurrence back then as I was stressed and not loving my job that was only made worse by my grief. That night a thought suddenly struck me. I wanted to be a Career Coach but I wanted to keep working from home. I had thought that I couldn't have both but I had never even looked into see if this was even possible! So why don’t I just take a look.
The next morning I googled virtual career coach and a bunch of articles and job postings for RiseSmart popped up. They are an organization that assists individuals after being laid off. Their career coaches are almost 100% virtual. Needless to say I was intrigued and excited!
Using LinkedIn, I found one of their Transition Coaches in Toronto and immediately sent a connection request stating my interest in learning more. She accepted and she told me all about the role. The roles are part time and allows individuals to continue exploring other job opportunities including as she does, freelance Career Coaching (I thought to myself, “what they exist?”). Plus she referred me to her team lead for me to speak with.
Last June, the team lead and I spoke. She is based in New York and manages the small but growing coaching team in Canada. We spoke for about 30-60 minutes and it ended with her giving me some advice (maybe explore getting my Certified Professional Resume Writer) and some timelines (they had nothing now, hopefully in 2018 and for us to chat again in the fall).
Honestly, I was a little disappointed at first as I wanted a job there RIGHT THIS SECOND! Then I remembered my chat with the Toronto Coach, maybe I could freelance career coach too. I began to reach out to other people in the industry who didn’t work for an organization but for themselves to arrange informational interviews and coffee chats. I found out so much great information – business tips, clients tips, etc. All that information gave me the confidence to make the leap and open up my own business. All summer I worked on designing my own website, developing content for it and making connections with the Burlington Public Library and the HRPA – Halton chapter leading to my official launch in September 2018.
At that point I had a 3-5 year plan (but if I was really honest with myself, an ideal 1 year plan) to move completely away from recruiting and be able to help people as a Career Coach full-time.
Fast forward to this past May. A job opened up at RiseSmart in Toronto. Immediately an interview was set up with the Talent Acquisition Specialist, the second interview with the team lead was bypassed as she and I already talked(!) and then a final interview with Canada’s General Manager. A few days later I got the call with the offer. Two weeks from the job opening to the offer. I got the offer on April 24th just a few weeks shy of the date I sent out that initial LinkedIn connection request. Allowing me to, way ahead of my scheduled plan, to say goodbye to recruitment and devote 100% of my time to Career Coaching.
I have been with RiseSmart for 6 weeks now and it has been amazing. I went through their intensive training program (accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF)) and have been working 10-15 hours a week which leaves me plenty of time to continue to build my own career coaching business and maintain a semblance of work/life balance!
All because I wasn’t afraid to reach out. My life changed that night and every day I wake up so grateful for this opportunity. I feel so fulfilled being able to help people navigate career transition, reinvention and the job search.
I want to help you too. Let’s set up a time to have a FREE Discover Your Career strategy call – we’ll talk about where you are now, where you want to go and some ways to get you there. If it makes sense, we’ll talk about how we can work together in a professional coaching relationship. If not, I provide some free resources, tips and an action plan to get you started on your own.
What do you want to do? Reach out to others doing just that and talk to them. You never know, those calls may change your life.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.