In Part 1 of this blog, posted Monday, I teed up the notion of using informational interviews as a way of overcoming the complaint from employers that they can’t understand military resumes. I listed sample questions you could pose in such an interview, and promised to follow up with what I think of as big-money questions.
The questions are (drum roll please….):
> May I tell you a bit about my military experience and get your perspective on how it maps to the civilian world?
> How would this kind of role [or skillset] fit into a civilian organization?
> How would you define success for someone in such a role?
> Are there other people you know who might be willing to speak with me about this?
I recently posted a blog about the value of volunteering, and how it can actually lead to a paying job. Well, the same goes for informational interviews. They can lead to paying jobs, directly or indirectly. Why? Because there is a priceless dynamic at play: genuineness. The beauty of the informational interview is that you can be yourself, without trying too hard or being who you think the interviewer wants you to be, and the other person can be him- or herself, without having to present the company line or sell you on the opportunity. Being genuine with someone builds trust in a way that the typical job interview does not.
Many years ago, in graduate school, we took a field trip to the Library of Congress. We learned the system, got access cards and instructions for conducting research. It quickly became my favorite place because, I realized, I could go in clueless and go out an expert. Well, maybe not a true expert but close. Spending one day researching a topic with every available resource at your disposal is a powerful thing. I think of informational interviews as being similar to a day at the Library of Congress. You can start out clueless about how to translate your military resume or about how to get into a particular career field and, after several informational interviews, you can end up with a whole lot of insider knowledge and a resume that makes you a competitive candidate in real job interviews.