Help!  Informational interviewing is not working for me. 

5 reasons you're not getting the results you want

A carton girl in a yellow shirt is surrounded by speech bubbles. SInformational interviewing is hard. She looks stressed.

Okay, so you’ve been looking for a job a long time—6 months, or maybe even a year?  You read The Art of the Informational Interview (thank you, btw) and you feel like you get the gist. You’ve done some informational interviews and reached out to a few people, but after all this time you’re still jobless and starting to get a little nervous. What’s going wrong? Does informational interviewing not work? Are you doing it wrong? Are you doomed to be unemployed forever? 

Never fear Young Padawan. I’ve got you covered. Today we’re going to talk about a few reasons why informational interviewing may not be “working” for you: 

  1. Are you doing enough informational interviews?
    Reaching out to one or two people per week is not going to get you there. Informational interviewing is a numbers game. If you want to make something happen for yourself you should be sending at least 10 outreach emails per week.  Anything less than that and you’re just not going to see results.  You may get one or two conversations going, but you’ll be lucky to convert these conversations into actual opportunities. So if you’re not getting the results that you want, consider the possibility that you simply need to send more emails and schedule more calls. 

  2. Are you looking for something that doesn’t exist? 
    Are you barking up the wrong tree? Informational interviewing is all about understanding reality: the reality of work, the reality of the economic landscape, the reality of the job market. Maybe you’re doing plenty of informational interviews, just hoping and praying that the magic job fairy will bestow a secure, high-paying, relaxing and fully benefited journalism on job on you.  Reality check: those jobs do not exist. Listen to what people tell you when you are informational interviewing. If you’re getting the message that what you’re looking for doesn’t exist, or that the industry you’re exploring is a bad fit for you, listen. Navigate your cute little but to some other part of the economic landscape and keep poking around. 

  3. Are you enthusiastic about the path you’re pursuing? 
    If you are forcing yourself to pursue a path that is not truly interesting to you, you are unlikely to be successful. And lord help you if you are successful because then you’ll be stuck in a job you hate. Some amount of enthusiasm is typically necessary for things to “click” in an informational interview. If you find yourself feeling deflated after boring informational interviews, consider the possibility that you’re true interests lie elsewhere. 

  4. Have you given it enough time? 
    In previous years it would take about 8-12 weeks to land a great job via informational interviewing. In 2023 that timeline was more like 6-9 months, and that’s assuming you’ve been really savvy and consistent about your informational interviewing. If you haven’t seen results in just a few months don’t give up. You’ve got to keep at it.  Keep in mind, too, that there are signs that hiring is picking up. I’m getting more inbound inquiries from recruiters these days, and I’ve heard that more companies are hiring recruiters, as well (always a good sign!). 

  5. Are you being clear about what you’re looking for? 

    Many people are understandably reluctant to ask for favors while informational interviewing. After all, the term “informational interview” suggests you are simply gathering, well, information, not directly asking for a job. Nevertheless, its important to be clear with people about what you are seeking. More people want to help, but they can’t if they don’t know what you want. So make sure you are clearly stating your desired outcome to everyone you talk to.

Okay, that’s all for today folks. If you’ve considered all of these possibilities and are still convinced that informational interviewing does not work for you, hmu. I’ve never met someone for whom informational interviewing doesn’t work. Its like the first sacred law of the universe. So if you think it actually doesn’t work for you, I’ve GOT to meet you!

Mkay. Bye.

People at Google don’t work
It’s All Bullshit: Performing productivity at Google ~ JS Tan for the Baffler
This guy’s not holding back. To hear him tell it, a significant number of the vaunted tech elite are barely working because the incentives (at Google specifically) are wacked. From my limited experience in big tech, I’ll buy it. Tan writes, “The performance of usefulness thus replaced the act of actually being useful.” Etc. etc. Add a bit of marxist commentary (because it’s the Baffler) and he concludes, “That tech work is becoming bullshit is not the problem. The problem is that the companies themselves are bullshit.” Don’t hold back, buddy, don’t hold back.

Sneaky stuff
Inside the strange, secretive rise of the 'overemployed' ~ Aka Ito for Business Insider
So apparently some people secretly have two jobs. And theres like a whole internet realm devoted to helping more people succeed at double employment. I mean, yes, I know lots of people have two jobs. But these are full-time salaried employees, secretly earning two full-time salaries. Color me impressed.

People don’t suck
How formerly incarcerated people are getting employment support in Oklahoma ~ Elizabeth Caldwell for NPR’s All Things Considered
Its really really hard to adjust to life after being incarcerated. I actually wrote about this from a housing perspective for the Listings Project a while back. Anyways, this is a lovely piece from NPR about an organization that is helping formerly incarcerated people get jobs. Highly recommend.

From the department of “I wish”
Life Really Is Better Without the Internet ~ Chris Moody for The Atlantic
I’m constantly dreaming up ways I could go off the grid or become a luddite. I even bought myself a Nokia 3310 phone a while back in an attempt to break my smartphone habit. Needless to say, I remain very online. However, I will always, always click on stories like this. And this one did not disappoint.

New to informational interviewing?

Are you new to informational interviewing? Here are a few articles and resource to get your started:

That should get you started. For more related and adjacent informational interviewing content, visit the Art of the Informational Interview!


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