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Informational Interviews, Networking, Career Research Conversations

Master the Art of Career Research Conversations

October 24, 2022

What if you could interview with a handful of individuals in your chosen field each week? Well, you can! By conducting the key to career transitions – Career Research Conversations.

What is a Career Research Conversation and Why are they Worth the Effort?

While only 7% of applicants come from referrals, this small number accounts for 40% of all hires! Think of applying to jobs online at the whim of the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), Recruiters, and HR Screeners as traveling Economy Class squished in the middle seat with a crying baby. Referrals are the equivalent of flying First Class. Career Research Conversations build your referral network and provide you with the information and exposure you are seeking from employers.

You are not asking for a job, but rather simply gathering information about a role and how to make yourself more marketable. This approach to the conversation can put everyone at ease and help you gather insight into a career you would not get via online research.

Below is a list of questions to choose from to make the most of your conversations.

Success Factors and Industry Trends

How did you get started in this field?

What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?

What does a typical day/week look like for you?

What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging?

What do you wish you had known about this field or organization before you entered it?

If you could start over again, would you choose the same path? Why? What would you change? What special advice would you give a person entering this field? At mid-career? Late career? What are the challenges facing the field and industry?

What can you tell me about the employment outlook in your occupational field?

Where do you see growth, change, and opportunity occurring in industry?

How much demand is there for people in this occupation?

If your work were suddenly eliminated, what kinds of work do you feel prepared to do?

How is the economy affecting this industry?

Desired Functional Skills and Personal Attributes

What skills and knowledge are most critical in your field? How did you learn these skills?

What specific functional or technical knowledge is critical to this work?

What personal characteristics do you feel contribute most to success in this company?

What are the educational, requirements for this job?

What other credentials, certifications, or licenses are required?

What volunteer or paid experiences would you recommend to someone pursuing this field?

What types of training do companies offer persons entering this field?

What professional development or associations would you recommend?

What publications, blogs, books, or podcasts do you consume to stay current?

Organizational Culture and Opportunities

How and why did you join the organization?

What is the management style in this organization?

What challenges do you face?

How would you describe internal or external clients? What is important to them?

How would you describe the pace and structure of work in this company?

What is a typical career path in this field or organization?

What are the advancement opportunities?

What type of training is offered through the organization?

Where are most of the opportunities for hire within the organization?

What social obligations go along with a job in your occupation?

What is the starting salary range? I have researched that average pay ranges from X-X for this type of work, does that sound accurate?

What are the major rewards aside from extrinsic rewards such as money, benefits, travel? 

What interests you least about the job or creates the most stress?

How does this career affect your lifestyle and work/family balance? 

Is there flexibility related to dress, work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, etc.?

Calls to Action / Next Steps / “The Ask”

Who do you respect in the field I should speak with? May I use your name when I contact him or her or would you be willing to provide an email introduction?

I've created a list of organizations to research. Would you review and suggest others?

Would you glance at my Resume, LinkedIn, or Cover Letter and let me know your impression?

Remember to send a thank you email and add value in return after the conversation. It could be as simple as sending an article your contact may find interesting or sharing something of value that is non-career related, like a recipe you discussed or a gym recommendation. 

Once you conduct a few conversations, you will realize they are the most effective process for gathering information about your field of interest. People enjoy speaking about what they do and if you are respectful of their time, will find the process rewarding for them as well!

Networking Naysayer? Confidently Cultivate Your Network by Learning from My Spin Instructor and a Flock of Geese

June 10, 2020

Are YOU resistant to “NETWORKING” even though you know AT LEAST 40% OF JOBS are found through REFERRALS? Take a lesson from my SPIN INSTRUCTOR and a FLOCK OF GEESE. Yes, you read that right. Stick with me, here . . .

Instead of thinking of networking as an intimidating chore, remember the wise words of my spin instructor during a particularly grueling class. “We are not competing with each other, but rather drawing from the collective effort and energy of the group to propel us forward and achieve our personal best.”

Her comment motivated me to pick up my riding pace and reminded me of how I coach clients to think of networking as geese flying in the V formation.

Why do geese fly in a V? Two reasons. One, the V creates less resistance for one another enabling them to fly farther faster. Second, the V ensures the geese do not lose sight of anyone in the group.

This is the beauty of a professional network and why I continue to lead group work as a component of my career counseling practice after 20 years. Instead of thinking of networking as “asking for a favor” consider yourself part of a team collectively pushing each other forward to expand your horizons and explore new frontiers.

Networking provided me with a collaborative, inspiring group of career colleagues, helping each other continuously improve our ability to serve clients and build our practices beyond our expectations.

Networking is how you master career transition – taking turns in the headwinds, keeping track of one another, and easing the resistance for ALL by sharing your professional experiences and introducing colleagues to new people and opportunities.

Networking is a consistent process of give and take. YOU are a VALUABLE part of a COLLECTIVE effort and if you view networking in this light, the process becomes one of the most enjoyable and satisfying aspects of professional life. To learn more about networking like a pro, reach out at

Keep flying.

#networking #networkingforintroverts #customcareersolutions

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