Friday, May 8, 2009

Getting Your Foot in the Door of the Industry

Some of the tips I am going to be sharing in the upcoming weeks will be those that I hope you will find helpful in dealing with the current economic situation. These tips will include money-saving tips to update your wardrobe, tips in conducting a job search if you have been laid off, and more. I encourage you to share some of your own tips that you have found useful by adding your comments here. Don’t forget to become a fan of paNASH Style on Facebook @ .


Getting Your Foot in the Door of the Industry
(As presented by Lori at Nashville Music Business Camp, 5/1/09)

When most people hear the words “job interview,” they automatically think of the high-pressure and often dreaded part of the job search process. In actuality, there are some interviews designed to spark confidence instead of fear. These interviews are referred to as informational interviews.

When trying to break into an industry, it is necessary that you conduct research and do your homework on that industry and on the major players within that industry (i.e. executives, the companies). Informational interviewing is a great way to research the industry before jumping in head first and being the one the hot seat. It is your chance to turn the tables on employers. The importance of informational interviewing cannot be underestimated. The numerous benefits of this method of research include the gathering of information about the industry, clarification of your career choice and your abilities to handle what all it takes to make it in the industry, a reality check of your expectations of the industry, knowledge of the current climate of the industry, cultivation of your network of contacts in the industry, and confidence building for future job interviews or deal negotiations in the industry.

Just like a job interview, an informational interview requires some preparation. First, you must identify which industries and/or companies you would like to learn more about and the appropriate people with whom you can interview. You can find professionals to interview through people you already know, social networking sites such as LinkedIn, alumni from your college, professional and trade organizations, newspapers, the Yellow Pages and other directories.

Next, you need to set up the informational interview by sending a letter or email indicating your interest in the industry, your request for the opportunity for a brief meeting to discuss the practice of the person’s specialty, and the date you will be contacting them for an appointment at their convenience. Then make sure to follow up with a phone call to schedule the interview.

Once you have an appointment scheduled, it is now time to prepare for your informational interview. Yes, you must prepare for an informational interview just like you would for a job interview. Plan to arrive on time and be dressed appropriately (don’t over dress as if it was a job interview but don’t be sloppy either; dress as someone who worked for this person would on a regular work-day). Most importantly, make sure you have prepared many thoughtful questions for the person you are interviewing. Do not waste the person’s time by not having appropriate questions prepared.

During the informational interview, questions should be aimed to help you gain information on how this person got started in the industry, what the culture and daily environment is like, and any advice the person can give you on how to break into and make it in the industry. This is not the time however to ask about any job openings with the company. If the person you’re interviewing offers up that information, then great, but you should never bring that up in this setting. Be sure to take accurate notes on the responses to your questions and also refer to the research you’ve already reviewed about the industry or the company.

As you close the interview, make sure you ask for the names of two or three other professionals in the industry you can contact for more information. This is just one way you can expand your network of contacts. Be courteous enough to keep to your agreed-upon time frame and thank the person for his or her time. It will also be necessary to send a written thank you letter within 48 hours of the interview and to periodically follow-up with phone calls to let that person know his or her help has been of service and where you are in your career development or job search process.

Following these guidelines will show your professionalism which will make an impression on the people you interview and set you apart from others trying to break into the industry.

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