The Secret to Asking for Career Advice

career career advice Jun 14, 2023

When was the last time you asked someone for career advice? If you must think back to your university days or first job, it’s time to reach out again.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, only 29% of employees are very satisfied with advancement opportunities at their current organization. More than one-third actively or casually seek another position, with boredom or lack of balance being the most common motivation.

Sound career advice can help you to make informed decisions that align with your goals. Try these suggestions for keeping your professional life headed in the direction you want to go.

Mastering Informational Interviews

This is a valuable strategy that most professionals overlook. Sit down with someone with first-hand experience and knowledge about a field or company that interests you.

1. Use your network. Once you identify someone you want to contact, review your contacts to see who they might know. An introduction can help you open doors.

2. Ask to meet. Send an email first to let them know the relevant details, so they can decide if they can help you. Be specific about your time and what you want to discuss. You may even get a positive response from a cold contact if you’re persuasive.

3. Prepare yourself. Show your interview subject that you respect their time. Do as much background research as possible, and arrive with a written list of questions.

4. Listen closely. If you just want to vent, call a family member or friend with a personal interest in your feelings. Your information interview is a time to focus on what the other party says.

5. Exercise restraint. Remember that you’re there to request advice rather than a job offer. That’s true even if you’re broke and unemployed.

6. Gain more leads. Close your interview by asking for suggestions for other professionals you can talk with. Ask if you can use them as a reference to set up future meetings.

7. Say thanks. This could be the start of a lasting relationship. Send your interview subject a note afterward expressing gratitude and describing how they’ve helped you. Stay in touch occasionally, and look for ways to give back.

Other Strategies for Seeking Career Advice:

Opportunities to sit down face-to-face with an expert are relatively rare. However, you have endless possibilities for learning from others daily.

1. Build mentor relationships. Working with a trusted adviser is another valuable but underutilized method.

2. Study performance reviews. Your company’s review process can be an important source of feedback rather than a mere formality. Talk with your boss about your professional development plans and how to align them with your job duties. Look for patterns over the years that indicate your strengths and areas where you need to grow.

3. Go online. Maximize your presence on LinkedIn. Upgrade your profile with a compelling headline and summary. Create a customized URL, and collect recommendations and endorsements. Use Facebook to follow companies that interest you and join relevant groups.

4. Explore alumni resources. Many colleges and universities offer free career assistance to any alumni. Some have special programs for older professionals.

 5. Visit your library. Your neighborhood library may have a public jobs center. You can also check the catalog and calendar for materials and events.

Finding your ideal career path is a big job. Knowing how to ask for advice will help you discover meaningful and satisfying work.