How Do I Contact Someone for Info on a New Job Field, But I’m not Ready to Say “Yes” To the Field?
This is the hottest question that has come across my desk (ie email) this week, and I’m excited to share some perspective on this!
Basically, what this person was asking was as follows: they’re exploring several career paths but have not yet chosen which way to go. They know that to find out information on each of their potential paths, they gotta talk to some people in those roles, but they want to strike a good balance of not wasting the person’s time by being too vague and non-committal and being gung ho about the field before they are ready.
So I’m here to give you some quick tips and a script to get moving and not let you trip you up. Remember, don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good here!
- Talk to one of your close peeps first: You may not have this, but if you do, absolutely start with people who know you well and that don’t mind you bumbling around to get more information!
- Gather preliminary info first: Check out an info session online for the professional association of the field you are exploring. Do a (timed!) Google search on the field. I say ‘timed’ so you don’t fall down the Google rabbit hole. 45 minutes per field is PLENTY. Make notes of what appeals to you for each field and what additional information you want to ask someone about.
- Check out live in-person networking events in your area: It’s a good way to get a grasp on the lingo people in that field are using, what kind of ideas they’re talking about and what’s important to them. Heck, you might even make a connection there! But if not, that’s fine- the name of the game is info gathering.
- Join LinkedIn Groups in your proposed field: Now, not all LinkedIn groups are created equally, so some might…well, they might suck. But check some out, see what kinds of (non-promotional) discussions are taking place in there and see how people are talking about the issues of their industry/field and what information is being passed around.
Once you have a basic sense for what appeals to you about the field, how your current skillset could gel with the proposed field and some questions you want to ask, you’re ready to contact someone for an info chat. Woo hoo! Congrats!
I’m including a brief script you can adapt for your outreach – to make it specific enough that you get a response, but not so specific that you’re painting yourself into an interview for a job you’re not even sure you want!
This is adapted from a script a good friend going through her own career exploration process has used with massive success. When she was first sending it out, she had an 85-90% positive response rate. So, try it and let us know how it goes! J
Here’s the script:
I hope this email finds you well, and I apologize for the “cold call” approach. I’m currently exploring a transition from a WHAT YOU’VE DONE BEFORE at COMPANY into a career in NEW PROPOSED CAREER, and I would be so grateful to spend 20 minutes with you to learn more about your own career path and your role as THEIR ROLE AT THEIR COMPANY. You are highly respected in WHATEVER THEIR FIELD IS and I’ve noticed your work doing <CITE WORK YOU’VE NOTICED> and I would be extremely appreciative of any insight you may have for me as I navigate this new area.
If you’d be willing to meet for just 20 minutes and chat about your career and experiences please let me know. I can come by your office or call you via phone at a time convenient for you.
Thank you very much for your consideration and time.
YOUR PHONE NUMBER
A LINK TO YOUR LINKED IN PROFILE
So, in closing, there IS a way to connect with people even when you’re not 100% sure of the final direction you want to go- it just takes some up front research and a specific ask to do so, as you’ve seen in this blog. And remember, it’s a great way to start to build a relationship – who knows, maybe you know of something or someone or a resource that can help them down the road, so if you’re feeling shy about reaching out, remember that- it’s a two way street!