You've learned about what it means to be an introvert. Now you'll learn what paves the way to the interview and what strengths introverts use in the job search, as well as what challenges they face. Introverts will rely on their strengths in written communications, focus, and research. On the other hand, they'll have to get outside their comfort zone when it's time to network. Networking might be a challenge to introverts because it can require an outgoing demeanor and the ability to make small talk. As introversion speaks to the energy level of an individual, introverts may be required to forego their downtime, something they truly value, to attend networking events. Their verbal communication skills will be challenged. In this chapter, you'll learn how introverts can excel at writing CVs and other written documents, and how they can face the challenges presented in networking.
All of this is possible. In fact, during the most important time in your life—getting to the interview and winning the job—you can rise to the occasion. You need to remember that you are adaptable and that you can access your extrovert traits. Let's break down the job search and examine your strengths, while also being realistic about possible challenges.
Your first contact with the employer will most likely be your CV and possibly your cover letter. However, in order to write a CV that lands an interview, you'll need to research the jobs for which you're applying. Because of your abilities to be alone, prioritize, and focus on getting things accomplished, this should not be difficult to muster. Introverts are not averse to being alone, so use this alone time and put it to good use. Create an area in your home where you won't be disturbed, where you can keep your job-search materials nicely organized. Everything should be easily accessible. Your priorities should include learning as much about each job, which requires dissecting the job descriptions to better understand the most important skills required for each job. More good news about your research is it will also lend well to preparing for interviews. In the next chapter, we'll look at how to research the position and company in greater detail.
Make a note
Caveat: A challenge for introverts can be their tendency to spend more time on research than necessary. Don't dwell on every nuance and small detail. You must keep this point in mind, as dwelling on every small detail can result in failing to deliver the CV and other documents before the deadline.
When you think about how businesses succeed, it's because they have great products or services and outstanding marketing. You must now think of yourself as a business that is selling a great product: you. Your marketing campaign will consist of written and verbal communication skills, both of which need to come together to conduct a successful marketing campaign that will get you to the interview. Beginning with your written communications, you have four possible documents: the CV, cover letter, approach letter, and LinkedIn profile. Your verbal communications will be tested with personal networking, informational interviews, follow ups, and finally the interview, which will be discussed in the next chapter. Let's break these down in this chapter.
Introverts tend to excel at written communications because it allows them to take time to formulate their ideas. This is where you might be more comfortable, compared to the verbal communications side of your marketing communications. Of the four documents we'll look at, the CV is the most common example of written communications, and the component many people focus on the most. However, don't neglect the cover letter, approach letter, and LinkedIn profile.
As mentioned in the preface, introverts are frequently found to have a strong preference for writing and, therefore, do it extremely well. But in order to write a powerful CV, you must research the position by reading the job description and determining the major requirements. A detailed job description should not intimidate you; rather, it should give you the information you need to construct a powerful CV. Your research will also be necessary to write cover letters and approach letters. Introverts are great researchers because they are patient, persistent, and focused on their goal of creating a powerful CV. (Because the CV is your most important job-search document, I'll spend more time addressing it than the other documents.)
No one ever reads a [CV] unless they have to; they have to because a specific job has been titled and carefully defined, a salary range has been agreed upon, the position has been budgeted and approved, and the funds released.
|--–Martin Yate, Knock 'em Dead Resumes
Contrary to what many believe, no one likes reading a pile of CVs. Imagine having to read 75 CVs—no, simply imagine reading 25 CVs—to determine which eight people you'll invite for an interview. Before long you'll want to push the CVs aside and get back to what really excites you about work. This is how most hiring managers feel; they'd rather be doing something else and will find any reason to not read another CV. But reading CVs is an important aspect of their job because the only way they'll know who to invite for an interview is by reading these CVs, yours included. The most pressing need they have at the moment is filling a position with someone like you.
When I ask senior- and mid-level jobseekers in my workshop if they enjoyed reading CVs as part of their job, at least 98 percent said they didn't. They confirmed that the majority of the CVs were poorly formatted, badly written, failed to hit the mark in terms of their needs, and probably worst of all, people sometimes lied about their past. This paints a bleak picture of reading CVs, but this is my intention; you have to make your CV more enjoyable to read by doing the following:
Making your CV easy to read
Tailoring your CV to a particular job
Highlighting your accomplishments
Making it the proper length
As we just mentioned, employers receive more CVs than they'd prefer to read, so readability is one of their main requirements in a CV. This means that paragraphs should not exceed three or four lines; they should not resemble lengthy paragraphs in a Charles Dickens novel. Important points you need to make should be easy to grasp at a very quick glance because something you may not have been told is that the first read of a CV is a 6 to 10 second scan of your document.
Use strong action verbs at the beginning of each paragraph to grab the employer's attention. Words such as "developed," "initiated," "directed," "created," "engineered," and "motivated" are a few powerful verbs you can use. Sprinkling bold text in your CV's sentences is another way to make it easier for employers to identify important strategic words and phrases, namely accomplishments you want to highlight.
Bullet points also make it easier for the reviewer of your CV to capture essential information. However, try not to write a CV that consists entirely of bullet points. Doing this will make it appear more like a grocery list which may blur duty statements with accomplishments. A contrast between bullets and paragraphs gives your CV a more appealing look.
This is something many people fail to do because they don't take the time to research the job's requirements. As an introvert, you will employ your ability to focus and research skills to create a unique CV, not a one-size-fits-all document that doesn't consider the needs and problems the employer is facing. Make sure you make note of the major requirements and address them, demonstrating your qualifications for that specific position. Writing a tailored CV takes more work because you'll rewrite the performance profile and in some cases the work history, but it's worth the extra effort. Remember that employers are not terribly excited about reading a slew of CVs. This will cause them to take note of the extra work you've put into constructing your CV. It will make reading your CV more enjoyable. As mentioned before, it will nicely set you up for the interview.
Readability and constructing a unique CV are important, but they aren't the only important considerations. In addition, you must show that you understand the needs of the employer by covering the position's requirements in order of importance. For example, if you ascertain, by carefully dissecting the job description, that verbal and written communications are the top skills, you will list them as your top qualifications in your performance profile. Customer service is second in importance, so you list this skill as your second qualification. Creating web content is third, so you'll show your proficiency in developing web content. You get the point. Further, you will continue prioritizing statements throughout your CV, including your work history. Don't be concerned that you'll have to totally construct a new work history; it may only require rearranging a few bullet points here and there. Introverts pay attention to details and are meticulous in their approach to writing, so this third rule of writing a CV will not be difficult to master.
Perhaps the most important feature of a strong CV is the abundance of relevant quantified accomplishments. These speak volumes to employers who are trying to separate the ordinary from the extraordinary. Employers are no longer impressed with duty statements; they want to see how job candidates have increased revenue, saved costs and time, improved productivity, solved problems, and other types of accomplishments. It's best when stating your accomplishments that you quantify them by using numbers, dollars, and percentages. This proves your assertions in a clear and factual way. For instance, you may write, "Saved costs by training staff on accounting software." This sounds fine, but there are still questions to be answered. Alternatively, and more effectively, you could state your accomplishment like this: "Saved $12,500 in outside training costs by voluntarily training staff on new accounting software." The first example of an accomplishment fails to impress, while the second one demonstrates quantified value and paints a complete picture.
Not only must you be able to write about your quantified accomplishments; you must also talk about them while networking and at the interview. Introverts have the time to think about them and explain them through their CV but must also commit them to memory when it's time to speak about them.
In addition to readability, tailoring your CVs, prioritizing statements, and highlighting accomplishments, you must consider the length of your CV. This again makes the job of reading many CVs easier on the employer. Generally speaking, two pages should be the maximum length for a CV. A one-page CV may be preferred, but you don't want to leave out important information by writing a one-pager. As long as you can capture the employer's attention in the first third of your CV, the employer will read your two-page CV. People with less than five years of work experience may be better off writing a one-page CV, rather than attempting to fill it with fluff or irrelevant information.
We've looked at the most important document you'll write for the job search. Now let's address the cover letter. Writing this document will require as much research and dedicated alone time as the CV takes. Because of their preference for writing, introverts generally don't see this as as much of a burden as extroverts might. Researching the position and company is a necessity because the cover letter must be tailored to each job for which you apply.
You may have heard that the cover letter is not read by employers. This is partly true, as recruiters, hiring managers, and HR are bogged down by a stack of CVs; but experts attest that at least 50 percent of hiring authorities still read cover letters. Why do they read cover letters? Hiring authorities read cover letters because they provide a more expansive picture of the job candidate. Cover letters tell a story that can't be completely told by the CV. Another thing you should consider before choosing not to send a cover letter is that if you don't send one, you'll be one of the few who do not. This will not bode well on your dedication and interest in the job.
Have you ever been asked, "Why do you want to work at this company?" or some derivative of this question? I'm sure you have. The cover letter is a perfect place to explain this. Also, the cover letter explains why you want to take on the responsibility of the position. In other words, the cover letter shows your enthusiasm for the position and working for the company.
Another purpose of the cover letter is to highlight relevant accomplishments found on your CV. The word "relevant" is noteworthy because relevant accomplishments tell employers not only what you've done in the past, but they also tell them what you will do for them in the future. This is particularly true if you have multiple relevant accomplishments. Take an employer, for example, whose main concern is increasing accuracy in the accounting department. Your four examples of how you've accomplished this will be proof of what you've done in the past, and shows what you're capable of doing in the future.
The two most important documents you'll send to an employer in response to an advertised position are the CV and cover letter. But what about the jobs that aren't advertised, the ones that exist in the Hidden Job Market (HJM)? It's estimated that nearly 75 percent to 80 percent of all jobs are unadvertised. Smart jobseekers find those jobs through networking.
This is where the approach letter comes in. This document is not often used, which is a shame, as it's a great networking tool for introverts. Here's why the approach letter is not often used: the majority of jobseekers are pursuing the 25 percent of jobs that are advertised. In other words, only the smart jobseekers are using approach letters.
Approach letters are sent to companies that haven't advertised a position. It is a knock on the door, but a knock on the door that introverts feel more comfortable with. The approach letter is only sent to companies for which you'd like to work. You are taking your job search into your own hands because you're not reacting to advertised positions—which, again, most jobseekers are pursuing. You're being more proactive, and this is a good thing.
The approach letter appeals to introverts because it's a way for them to network by using their written communication skills, precluding the need for them to pick up the phone and make a call to the companies. Extroverts are more inclined to pick up the phone or even visit the company; however, remember that companies these days have gatekeepers (a receptionist, say) who are instructed to turn all jobseekers away. Who do you send your approach letter to, you may wonder. Generally, you'll send it to someone who will take notice, such as a hiring manager or someone higher up, say the president of the company. By no means should you send an approach letter to HR. They will simply place your letter in the circular file cabinet.
You may have guessed by now that the approach letter will require you to do research on the organization and position in which you're interested. You must give the recipient of your letter a reason to invite you in for a discussion. Show them your knowledge and appreciation for the company, as well as your related experience and accomplishments, of course.
It is widely believed that LinkedIn is the best, most professional online networking tool. LinkedIn has more than 300 million members and is growing at a rate of two new members a second. Therefore, you should join the LinkedIn craze and give yourself a chance to be found by employers who are looking for people with your talent. To call the LinkedIn profile a part of your written communications is accurate because you are, in fact, writing a profile which resembles the CV…to an extent. Let me elaborate on this point. At first you may want to copy and paste the content of your CV, and then modify it so it is a networking document.
An effective LinkedIn profile will contain many of the elements of a CV, such as a compelling Summary, a descriptive Employment section, and a complete Education section. But other features of the LinkedIn profile turn it into more of a networking tool than the CV. For example, in many countries a photo is not included on the CV, whereas members of LinkedIn are highly encouraged to include one. This gives LinkedIn more of a personal touch than the CV, and many people prefer it over the CV for this personal touch. There are other components of the profile that differ from the CV, such as the Media section (your online portfolio), Skills and Expertise and Endorsements, the Recommendations section, and Interests.
To be successful, introverts must be active on LinkedIn and venture beyond creating their online CV. They must post updates, send direct messages, participate in groups, respond to updates, and so on. Too often LinkedIn members create their profile and then wait for visitors to come to them. When my workshop attendees ask me how many updates are enough, I tell them at least one a day is the minimum amount. This seems like a lot to them, but I go through an exercise during the workshop where I'll post three updates within five minutes. The LinkedIn profile is static, unlike your CV which should be tailored to each job, so communicating with your network is essential to staying in their minds.
Introverts may find solace in LinkedIn because of the hours a day they can spend on writing their profile and posting updates. This activity can be seen as the introverts' way of corresponding with their connections. More to the point, LinkedIn allows them to engage in online networking without having to reach out and speak to their connections, if they so desire. This is a mistake. While you may connect with hundreds or thousands of people on LinkedIn, they don't become bona fide connections unless you personally reach out to them by calling or even getting together with them for coffee or lunch. Extroverts are comfortable with reaching out and meeting with people, even connections they've met for the first time on LinkedIn.
Introverts should follow their counterparts' lead when it comes to personal networking, as personal networking is the best method to use to get to the interview. Allow me to repeat: you can develop your online network to include hundreds or thousands of connections, but they will not be bona fide connections unless you reach out to them in a personal manner.
We've looked the written communications side of your job-search marketing campaign, which can consist of the CV, cover letter, approach letter, and LinkedIn profile. But these components are only half of the equation. The other half is your verbal communications which, as mentioned earlier, can be challenging for introverts if they're not properly prepared. This part of the chapter will examine the various ways to network, including events, day-to-day, and informational meetings.
You've learned that introverts feel more comfortable communicating through writing and do it quite well. Introverts are also capable of succeeding at personal networking; they simply go about it differently than their more outgoing counterparts, the extrovert. Generally put, introverts prefer smaller groups and deeper conversations, whereas extroverts prefer larger groups and broader conversation. Introverts are also said to be better listeners than extrovert, who are said to be better at making small talk. In case you're wondering, pundits estimate that networking can account for 60 percent of a jobseeker's success as the only method used to find a job. There are various ways to network.
When we think of networking, we picture networking events where jobseekers gather in a large room or hall to converse with each other. They deliver their stiff elevator pitch, talk about their accomplishments, and wander from person to person working the room. This is one way to view networking; however, it is an unfavorable way to envision networking. Even most extroverts will agree that this idea of networking is uncomfortable, if not downright intimidating. In fact, networking conducted this way is counterintuitive for introverts and extrovert alike. It is contrived and allows very little room to develop long-lasting relationships. Nonetheless, this type of networking is common in every city and most towns, and it will most likely continue to exist till the end of time. Should you refrain from this type of networking? Certainly not. Just keep in mind that you will need to have clear goals before you enter the networking event.
One goal is determining how many people with whom you will speak. The number may be three, two, or even just one. Remember that introverts prefer to speak with fewer people, yet engage in deeper conversations. Don't feel as if you have to emulate extroverts who enjoy meeting many people and having briefer conversations. This is not your style.
Another goal is trying to help some of the individuals at the event by offering a lead to a possible position, or informing the folks of other people with whom they may like to meet. Understanding the needs of your fellow networkers can only be accomplished through—one of the introverts' many strengths—active listening. Go to the event with the attitude that you're there to help first and receive help second.
The third goal is simply "Do It."
Remember to bring personal business cards, which are cards similar to the ones you had when working, but are more about you as a jobseeker or a business owner. Let's say you've worked in Marketing. Naturally, you'll have your contact information listed on your cards—perhaps including your LinkedIn URL. But people will need to know what your areas of strength are. Are you strong in public relations, web content, social media, and vendor relations? Clearly state this on your personal business card. To arrive without a business card will be quite embarrassing, so make up a personal business card right away.
Think about what you do when you need a good babysitter, a trustworthy mechanic, advice on what movie to see, someone to shovel your walkway after a snow storm, and other needs you may have. You ask people whom you trust. Or, if like me, you asked a complete stranger where she had her Honda serviced—which incidentally turned out to be the best advice I ever received. This is how we network on a daily basis without giving it much thought. And this is how networking for work should be done. This method is so easy to do, yet many jobseekers fail to do it.
But there is etiquette introverts must follow when networking day-to-day. It involves two rules. First, tell everyone you know that you're looking for a new job, and be clear about your experience and needs. Second, resist the urge to make all your conversations about your job search, and resist the urge to ask people if they know of any jobs. The second rule may seem counterproductive, but you don't want to drive every friend, neighbor, and relative away by violating this rule.
"It's not what you know, it's who you know." You've heard this phrase before. Remember that introverts feel most comfortable in small groups that allow for deeper conversation. From your networking events, you may meet people who would like to meet for coffee or tea one time a week, where you can discuss your job search, offer advice, ideas, and leads.
Don't be afraid to make phone calls or send an e-mail to your connections, who essentially are everyone you know. Call them to simply check-in, congratulate them on their birthday, ask how their son's football game went, and so on. But don't alienate them by always asking if they've heard about a job suitable for you. They know your employment situation because they'll ask you how you're doing. At this point it's proper to say something like, "I'm still looking for a job as an accountant manager." These simple "pings" will keep you in their mind. One of my former customers constantly sent me e-mails to update me on his job search. He always remained positive. So when I learned of opportunities, I alerted him to them, simply because he remained in my mind.
Here's how Nancy Ancowitz, Self-Promotion for Introverts, encourages introverts to look at networking:
"As an introvert, you'd probably rather listen than talk most of the time. You're adept at building deep and lasting relationships. You're trusted, accountable, and a core contributor. However, you're not a schmoozer. You value your space and quiet time. Regardless, you have distinct advantages that enable you to create a strong network that can provide you with continuous support."
One of the most underused ways to network is the informational interview, or what I prefer to call, informational meetings. The distinction is small and the process is the same, but "informational interview" implies to the person who's giving you advice that it's an interview, when it's really a meeting that should be relaxed, yet informative. Nonetheless, this is a meeting you ask someone at a company you're interested in working for if you can sit with them to gather information on a position and the company. You bring the questions, so make them intelligent questions. This meeting should create a relaxed environment—after all, you're not being interviewed, and the person granting you the informational meeting is under no pressure to hire you. The ultimate outcome of a meeting like this would be you being recommended to the hiring manager if a position is developing in the company, or being kept in mind for positions in the future. At the very least, you should leave with two or three other people with whom you could speak. This type of meeting is a great way to penetrate the Hidden Job Market.
You've attended networking events, networked daily with everyone you know, and conducted some informational meetings. Now it's time to follow up with the people with whom you've spoken. Your correspondence with these connections can be delivered in the form of e-mails first, followed by a phone conversation where you'll set up a face-to-face meeting. Following up is incredibly important because it solidifies the connections you've made. Some believe that as many as seven correspondences are necessary to solidify a connection. No matter what the number, be sure to send that e-mail or make the call. If there proves to be no substantial commonality between you and the person you met, there's no need to follow through with a personal meeting.
In this chapter, we looked at ways to get to the interview, including the documents that comprise your written communications: CV, cover letter, approach letter, and LinkedIn profile; as well as your verbal communications, for example, the various types of networking. All these components need to come together in order for you to be successful in your journey to the interview.
In the next chapter, we will look at the interview exclusively. You will be glad to know that you can put your research skills to use before attending the interview. So, we'll spend more time looking at how to effectively research the position and company, as well as the competition. However, at the interview—telephone or face-to-face—you will be called on to use your extrovert traits, such as making small talk, demonstrating enthusiasm, and exuding confidence. You can succeed at the interview and win the job if you put your mind to it.