How To Get Over Your Fear of Informational Interviews [Podcast #7]

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Getting Over Your Fear of Informational Interviews Show Notes

  • Announcements
  • Tips for informational interviews
  • Networking interview: Fashion and work style advice with Sarah Ward
  • How to Write a Resume

Podcast Transcript

Hi, this is Anna Runyan and welcome to episode 7 of the Classy Career Girl podcast! I wanted to start out by thanking all of your for your comments about the new podcast! I am really glad to hear you are enjoying it!
I also want to announce that I am super excited to speak next February to a group of business students from Purdue University! I will be speaking about networking and how to market yourself in college at the Doster Leadership Conference.  The Conference is a biennial leadership conference sponsored by the Krannert School of Management Council of the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.

How to Get Past the Fear of Informational Interviews


Now today I am going to tell you about something that may make you step out of your comfort zone. I know it was for me when I first started asking people for informational interviews. The ONLY way I would have done my first one is it if was a class assignment and my grade depended on it and that is exactly what happened.
I was totally scared, but I am so glad my professor forced us to do it because it was definitely life changing! So I hope that as you continue doing more, the relationships and connections that you build will be as life changing for you as they have been for me!

So here are some of my tips for getting past your fear of informational interviews:

  1. Do your research: Preparation for an informational interview is very important. Learn as much as you can about the person you are interviewing and their company. This will help you be prepared with great questions to ask. Be prepared with questions before your interview such as: What is your typical day like? What do you like most about your job?  How did you get your job?  How is the economy affecting your industry? What is your advice to someone interested in this field?  Write them down and have them ready to go in case you forget or get nervous during the interview.
  2. Rehearse: Before the scheduled interview, make sure to know the name, title of their position, and be ready to give a fabulous elevator pitch to make a great first impression.
  3. Never forget to follow up with a thank-you email or letter! People so often forget this so if you send a hand written letter or a very nice email, you will surely stand out and not be forgotten!  To end an informational interview, always thank your interviewee for their time and help. Remember to email or send a thank you note to show your appreciation. The interviewee has taken time out of his/her busy schedule just to help you so never forget to tell him/her how they helped you and stay in touch!
  4. Never give out your resume: I am not making this up! This advice came from my career counselor and it was really hard for me to believe, too. She said that if you provide a hard copy of your resume, it would most likely get thrown in the trash. Instead, send your resume right after the meeting, which will give you a chance to make last minute updates with information that you learned during the interview.
  5. Always ask who else they know that you can talk to: If you are networking like crazy with me, you know that you must always be looking for that next person to meet!  Try not to leave a meeting without another contact. And remember; be respectful of the professional’s time.
  6. Dress the part: Always remember the appointment time and be prompt for your interview. Look your best but don’t be too casually dressed nor overdressed. Simple regular business attire is appropriate.
  7. Remember to never ask for a job! Your time will come but it isn’t now!
  8. Know and research your career of interest so that you can construct intelligent questions.
  9. Relax: Seriously you are going to stand out so much for asking for this interview.  The very first informational interview I did, the woman said that she would refer me to her company because of how proactive I was.  If you are nervous or scared, don’t be.  What have you got to lose!  Also, be enthusiastic and interested in learning. Professionals can tell if you are conducting an informational interview just to complete an assignment or if you are truly interested in what they do.
  10. Send a professional informational interview request letter or email: Remember first impressions count!!
So if you are looking for a template to use, I am going to share my informational interview template.
This is the email I send when requesting informational interviews and guess what! Everyone I emailed responded back to me!

Dear (Name of Person)I am currently an MBA student at the Rady School of Management at University of California, San Diego. My career counselor at the Rady School suggested I contact you to conduct an informational interview.

I am currently an MBA student at the Rady School of Management at University of California, San Diego. My career counselor at the Rady School suggested I contact you to conduct an informational interview.

My passion and desire is to become (your career target) and your background and experience will be invaluable to me as I pursue my career. At your convenience, I would like to schedule a 15-­‐minute informational meeting with you in person or over the phone. The purpose of the meeting is to gather additional information that will better assist me with my career decisions. Thank you for considering my request.

Thanks, (Your Name)

These types of interviews are a fantastic way to build your network, so I really hope this helps you get past your fear of informational interviews!
Now, let’s listen to my networking interview with image consultant Sarah Ward.  Here is the video and transcript of the interview with an image consultant.
Alright, so I hope you enjoyed the interview with Sarah Ward. My favorite tip from the interview is the One thing every professional woman needs to have in their wardrobe is a blazer or a jacket. She said that someone wearing a jacket is going to hold someone’s attention longer than someone who doesn’t.  I think that is so true and I didn’t even realize it until this interview, so now I am adding a few more blazers to my working wardrobe!
So now, let’s answer your questions!
Our first question comes from Rachel, she asks

I was wondering if you’re going to BlogHer 2012 in NYC this year? I am! It’s my first time. It seemed like a cool conference that would do well to have you!”

I would LOVE to! But I live in San Diego and it is quite a flight. So if you know of anyone who wants to fly me out there as a sponsor I would definitely be interested! I do love New York and would love to attend. I know that doesn’t really answer a career question but it doesn’t hurt to try!
So, if you are an advertiser and want to sponsor me to attend Blogher, you won’t be disappointed!  🙂
Our next question comes from Ryan.

Hello Anna,

I came across your blog while researching a change in career. I currently work for the US Gov’t and after much thought, decided I needed to grow personally and professionally, and basically just wanted a change in career.

I have decided to start researching job opportunities in the private sector. I just started and have already hit a road block….creating my CV! How do I take all of my experience from my 10 years with the government, and word it in a way that will make me a very marketable job candidate in the civilian world? 

Ryan, I think one of the best things you do before you start working on your resume is to create a list of all of the jobs you have had in the past and create job experience stories.  These are stories about how you solved a problem or overcame a challenge and then the result that came because of it.  This would be quantified whenever possible.  Once you have 8-10 stories, then you are ready to start putting it into a resume format.  You want to brag about yourself on your resume, not just list all of the tasks you have done.
I also offer some free networking, resume and interview checklists that might help you on the blog.  You can find them here. 
I recommend that before you submit your resume that you ask yourself these 15 questions: Make sure you ask yourself these questions BEFORE you hit submit!
  1.  Have I spellchecked?
  2. Do I answer the question – so what?
  3. Do I brag about how awesome I am?
  4. Have I quantified results as much as possible?
  5. Do I show how I found solutions to problems for every job I have had?
  6. Do I show how I added value to every company I have worked for?
  7. Have I carefully used keywords from the job posting in defining my skills and experiences?
  8. Have I shown that I meet all the minimum qualifications?  If possible, have I shown that I meet the additional qualifications?
  9. Does everything in my resume correlate to the job I am applying to?
  10. Did I add a few extras that show I am unique and memorable?
  11. Are my bullets all lined up?
  12. Is everything formatted and organized correctly?
  13. Is every term parallel?  (Past tense/singular, etc. for verbs and nouns)
  14. Has someone else reviewed it and provided me with their input?
  15. Have I proofread it one last time?
So, Ryan, I hope this helps!
Thanks to all you for listening to podcast #7. I hope I have given you some great info to get over your fear of informational interviews and updating your resume! Until next week, bye!

Hi, I'm Anna!

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