I gave a class this week on career assessment; figuring out your values, interests, skills and personality and seeing how you can apply them in a new career.
One way to explore possible career paths is by talking with people who are currently in a field that you may be interested in and a good method to gather valuable information is through informational interviews.
An informational interview is a short telephone or face to face meeting where you ask a subject matter expert a few relevant questions about a type of position or general industry. Some of the types of questions you may want to ask in order to find out more about a new career path are:
- What types of skills are needed for this job?
- What is a normal day on the job like?
- My background is _____. Is there a way that I can use my former skills in this new position?
- What is the job market like for this position?
- Are there any particular classes that you suggest I take?
- Are there any particular industry-related journals, magazines or web sites that you suggest I read?
- Are there any professional organizations that I should join?
- Are there any contacts that you suggest I call to gather additional information?
Always follow up the informational interview with a thank you note. Afterwards, should you decide to pursue a career in that particular field, let your contact know; perhaps there may be an open position.