Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Bringing the job market and marketplace into focus – Part 10: preliminary interviewing for a career change

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on September 5, 2010

At the end of Part 9: Transition Positions as a Foot in the Door in this series I said that this next installment would focus on interviewing for a career change, and that I would be writing about that next. I also recommended that you review two postings from earlier in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development:

Unemployment Gaps and Related Resume Problems and
Unemployment Gaps and Related Resume Problems, Part 2.

So this is about interviewing but I asked you to read and think about resumes. Why?

I did that for several reasons. First, most job seekers who have reached a point where they are exploring a career change have at least some gaps in their resume that they have to address, and for their own peace of mind if nothing else. Second, there are important connections between networking and resume preparation and interviewing, and certainly where informational and preparatory interviews are considered. So think of this posting as focusing on steps to take before you go for a job interview with a hiring manager. If you do not interview before you go to a hiring decision interview, you are throwing away a major source of potential advantage.

You have a resume and probably several versions. Have you reached out to people who could give you well informed third party assessments as to how effective these documents are? Informational and background interviewing can help you with that, and the advice you gain from these preliminary meetings can help you prepare a resume that will help you land that meeting with the hiring manager.

Informational interviews can also give you an insider’s edge, helping to learn to see the jobs you apply for as if through the eyes of the people on the other side of the table and with an awareness of their concerns and priorities.

• Think of resume writing and preparatory interviewing as an iterative process – a process whereby you progressively refine both your understanding and your ability to present yourself as a candidate, and both in writing and verbally.
• Find people you trust for their experience and for their level of interest in seeing you succeed who will share some of their time with you to help you bring your search into focus. Share draft resumes with them and meet with them for practice job interviews. Then really listen to what they say, and certainly if they have experience hiring.
• Remember that your body language counts here too, so ask about how you present yourself in general and not just how effectively you address specific issues or how well you answer specific questions.
• And always remember that a resume, to turn back to your written documents, is a marketing tool and that if you leave details from your professional history and experience out, or only mention them in passing that does not deny their value or importance. You are simply focusing on the details that are of most importance to your target audience – the hiring manager, to make their job easier and to show your effectiveness as a candidate. You are simply focusing on the areas they will need to cover when they meet with you, and ideally in ways they will see as addressing their needs.
• And it is in these preliminary interviews that you turn that approach from nice sounding abstraction into hands-on practical application.

My exercise for this series installment is for you to sit down and start assembling a list of people who can offer you recommendations. How many of them would also be good candidates for offering informational interviews? Work on developing a list of possible recommendation sources that would qualify for both as they will probably carry more weight with a hiring manager than would people who do not know you professionally or have professional experience. Now who do you know who may not be candidates for offering you recommendations but who have professional experience and backgrounds where they could offer you sound advice? (Some of them may become potential recommendation sources if they get to know you from informational interviews or from helping you with practice job interviews.)

And remember, as a concluding thought for this posting:

• When you make a significant career change, as is likely when searching in a contracted job market, this type of feedback and refinement can be the single most effective way for developing that new path forward where you can present yourself as that best candidate.

You are competing against others who are also doing strategically planned and executed searches, but you are also competing against a lot of candidates who do not. This can be your competitive edge and certainly in competing against them.

My next posting in this series will focus on job interviews.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kurt, Jason Monastra. Jason Monastra said: Bringing the job market and marketplace into focus – Part 10 …: So think of this posting as focusing on steps to… […]

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