Our COVID times remain challenging, and frankly, bleak. But believe it or not, there are some upsides, and that's what I'm focusing on this week. I'll be sharing the career upsides, the silver linings, that come from COVID this week to help you keep your career inching along. My first piece of advice is to use the time to schedule and do some informational interviews. Networking is always key to your career, and we have all missed out this year. Conferences that were cancelled, meetups that have been postponed until...well, who knows. But that doesn't mean you can't find and schedule some informational interviews. You (probably) have less oversight than ever from your employer, right? Maybe you're entirely working from home. Maybe you're setting your own hours for the first time in your career. Maybe your boss and their leaders are completely pre-occupied with pandemic planning. That is a good thing. It means less scrutiny on your schedule, on where you 'went' when you went to have coffee with someone. The ability to meet virtually with anyone in your targeted field or dream job, anywhere. The freedom to chat openly, in the privacy of your own space, without fear of cubicle neighbors overhearing you. The ability to ask more candid questions than ever. The opportunity to share more openly your long-term career aims. It also is a low ask of you. All you have to do is find the person, ask them, and think of some good questions. I know many of us are beyond stressed and overwhelmed, so this is one the most low-effort ways we can at least take some baby steps towards planning our short-term or long-term career moves. What's holding you back from scheduling at least one informational interview this month? Let me know how I can help you make that happen.
It used to be commonly accepted knowledge that academia and LinkedIn do not play nicely together. But those days are gone. While even academics need to get with LinkedIn, it is a MUST for all alt-acs to be on LinkedIn. Here's the top 3 reasons why, and some resources to get you started.
Academics, especially, get really hung up on the idea that moving vertically - and that the right job *title* and the more *money* that comes along with that equals success. And I'm here to tell you that I know plenty of folks who have moved laterally - sometimes even for slightly less pay - just to be able to try something new and break into an area that is much more engaging for them. Success looks different for different people.
Yesterday, I posted about something you can and should do when exploring a new career: an informational interview. But that post only covered how to schedule the interview. You still need to know what to ask during an informational interview. So let’s get started.
Why do an Informational Interview?
This is a low-stakes way for you to
- meet someone in a different career,
- explore how they got into that work, and
- get a snapshot of a typical workday.
In other words, the point of an informational interview is to give you more data points on whether it might be a career that suits you and warrants more exploration.
It’s Monday, so I’m guessing you’re as braindead as I am. But when you’re job hunting or career planning, you still need to be working on your career, even when you don’t feel like it. So it’s a good day to take on something easy, like brainstorming. Brainstorming is a good way to make use of your time on days when you’re feeling sluggish or caffeine-dependent. Like, say, Mondays.
How Brainstorming Can Benefit Your Career
Career brainstorming can help you no matter what career stage you’re in. When you’re looking for your first job or considering a career change, brainstorming can uncover new job families to explore. And when you’re in a career but feeling stuck at your current level, it can help you find professional development options you might need to consider in order to advance. Or when you’ve found a job you’d like to apply for, it can help you figure out how to identify and describe your transferable skills on your resume.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorite career brainstorming tools.