Phase 2, Step 7 - Gather First-Hand Knowledge
Step 7: Develop your network. In this step you will work on cultivating relationships with people who work in your field of interest. There are certain questions that cannot be answered by online reading only. Your network will help you gain first-hand knowledge about these questions. This step is also for learning more about your field of choice in order to position yourself well in interviews and ultimately making the right choices for you. This step is complete when you are 100% convinced of what you want to do, know how and where you can add value and know specifically what you need to add to your resume to be a great candidate. Find and talk with at least 10 people in your chosen field and industry. It often will take as many as 20 coffee or lunch meetings to get to the 3-5 people who are doing EXACTLY what you want to do. If your chosen field is narrow (i.e. likely to have less than 20 positions to apply for in your geography, you should gather first-hand knowledge in plan B and maybe even plan C. Often, these meetings are called informational interviews or at AGSM referred to as informationals. These meetings should not be confused with real “interviews”. The goal of informationals is to get to know people that you might be working with some day and to gather information, NOT to ask for a job!
- What job titles are appropriate for my background and experience? What might I aspire to long term?
- How is this job different in various industries and sectors?
- What are some actual career paths? What do I need to do to get considered for promotions? How long does it take in this economy for people to find work in this field?
- What qualifications do people have that are being hired at a selection of companies? Is that different from the job description qualifications? Will the qualifications change as the economy improves?
- How can I improve my resume to be considered for work at specific companies? How do people really get jobs in this field?
- When and how should I be prepared to start the application process?
- What are growth sectors for this job? How can I position myself for these jobs?
- What salary should I expect in this economy and for my background and experience?
- Segment your field into possible job titles (Finance = Financial Analyst, Portfolio Manager, Investment Banker, Credit Analyst, Controller, Associate, Financial Planner etc). Rule out the job titles that are not of interest based on your online research.
- Reach out to your network and ask for referrals to people with these job titles. Meet with your Career Coach or your PCA for connections to people with the job titles you are unable to locate within your own network.
- Search LinkedIn for people with the job titles and ask for connections.
- Contact 3-5 people at a time and ask to meet for lunch or coffee to discuss what they do. Learn about their work field. Draft notes to refer back to later. You will need to talk with 10 to 20 people in this section.
- Before meeting with you contact do online research about their company and background. Draft a list of specific questions you have that you can’t find answers to online.
- After your meeting, send a hand-written thank you note within 24 hours of the meeting. Draft personal notes of your informational and what the next follow up might be for this person. Track your meetings in Outlook or in a spreadsheet. ASK your contact how you might be of help to them.
Deliverable for GSM5108:
Identify 10 people who you would like to have Informationals with. Reach out and schedule appointments. Draft summaries of the meetings you’ve held so far including the information you’ve gained from the Career Close-up. It is advised that you track these notes and meetings in Excel as you will want to refer back to them during Phase 4. Upload this to your Optimal Resume Portfolio.
After Class: Complete your 10 Informationals. Draft notes from each and revise your tracking notes. Upload to your Optimal Resume portfolio.
Why this is important:
This is the most important step for you because all the effort and work you put into Steps 1-6 has prepared you for face to face connections (aka informationals). Gathering firsthand knowledge should be a lifelong process and the relationships you cultivate could create your next job or prospective opportunities.