By Pete Leibman
The best way to get your dream job is by conducting “advice appointments.”
An advice appointment TM is a 15-30 minute meeting (in-person is better than by phone) where you interview a successful executive who is a current/former employee for one of your ideal employers.
Advice Appointments are not “informational interviews,” which are used to decide if you want to work in a certain field. When conducting informational interviews, you usually ask questions like “What is a typical day like for someone in this position?” or “What are the pros and cons about working in this field?” While those questions can provide you with good information if you are researching different career paths, they probably won’t help you identify “hidden” job opportunities or tell you how you can impress your ideal employers. That’s where advice appointments come in.
In contrast to informational interviews, advice appointments are a much more powerful networking strategy used to gather “insider information” on how to break into a certain field.
Don’t waste the limited time you have with a successful executive (usually 15-30 minutes max) to ask about their “typical day” or what the culture is like within their organization. Those questions will not impress anyone, nor will they give you any insights on how to land the job of your dreams in the current economy. (You can also conduct basic employer/industry research through public sources, such as LinkedIn discussion groups, professional associations, Glassdoor.com, employer career pages, employer social media pages, and so on.)
When you meet with a “heavy-hitter,” you want to ask questions about how to make yourself more marketable and about how to identify “hidden” job opportunities in the field. These questions are much more likely to generate job leads and/or referrals than if you ask questions that imply that you are unsure if you want to pursue a certain career path.
While you should prepare several unique questions to ask during your advice appointments, here are a few general questions you can ask as well:
- What discussion groups, associations, networking groups, or events can I get involved in to connect with other people working in _____? (This is a great question to identify other channels where you can learn more about the field and connect with other people with the power to hire you.)
- What do you believe are the key traits, skills, or experiences that companies in this field look for, and what can I do to enhance my candidacy to employers in this field? (This question shows that you are proactive about professional development and will inform you on how you can make yourself more marketable.)
- Who else do you know that I can speak to for additional information on working in ____? (This is a great question to ask at the end of an advice appointment to generate additional networking leads.)
Can you see how much more valuable the answers to these questions will be than the answers you’ll get if you ask about a company’s culture or someone’s typical day? To be clear, informational interviews can be productive if you have no idea what you want to do or if you’re unsure if a field is right for you. However, you should be using advice appointments once you have decided what career you want to pursue. (Note: You MUST get clear on where you are trying to go before you start applying for jobs!)
I used advice appointments to get my first dream job working for an NBA franchise when I was a shy, 21 year-old college student who had no work experience or contacts in the highly competitive sports and entertainment industry. If advice appointments worked for me, they can work for you, too!
Pete Leibman is the Founder of Dream Job Academy and the Author of I Got My Dream Job and So Can You. His work has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN.
As an exclusive to Simply Hired readers, he has offered the following free giveaway (valid until July 30, 2012) to job-seekers who are having trouble designing their resume or landing interviews or job offers:
Send an email to Resume@DreamJobAcademy.com with your current resume and a link to a job description that you are interested in. Dream Job Academy will randomly select 25 resumes (opportunity open until July 30, 2012) to be critiqued confidentially by Pete Leibman for free. Make sure to use “Simply Hired” in the subject line of your email.