honesty isn’t the best policy?

I am currently seeking work, and as any of us who have ever looked for a job or assignment knows, it’s an incredibly time-consuming, tedious process. Nearly every book, article or expert I’ve consulted on networking, however, advocates for the “informational” conversation: “Dear So-and-So, I’m so interested in hearing about your career path…” Often the advice is to not even mention a job possibility in initial correspondence. As someone with a fondness for efficiency and a low tolerance for bullshit, I find this advice suspect.

Can anyone provide legitimate insight as to why a more direct approach is not generally advised? Not “Hi, we went to the same school, will you hire me?” of course (though that would be really nice), but “Dear So-and-So, I am interested in Position X at your company. Would you be willing to have a conversation with me about your experience and my background to determine if there might be a good mutual fit?” or some such.

Frankly, any time I say that I am interested in “learning about your experience” or “finding out more about your career path,” I, A) am certain the recipient can see right through that claptrap, and B) feel as if I’m representing myself as a wide-eyed “newbie,” rather than as the experienced professional I am.

We often talk about being straightforward and asking for what you want, especially “as women,” but there’s so much advice out there to beat around the bush. What’s wrong with saying “I would appreciate your help/advice/insight in service of a goal?” Isn’t a direct approach more efficient and productive for everyone involved?

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