7 traits and challenges of introverts

CommunicationAfter a sleepless night, followed by a very long day of work, I’m not too keen on going to a business networking event tonight. Normally I’d go, but I see the following scenario unfolding: the night will start off fine, until I become tired and want to leave, most likely at 7:00 pm.

So I’ll to do what is best for all; not go to the event.

I’m an introvert, so really this is the best decision. The chance of me “getting a second wind” is highly unlikely. My counterpart, the extravert, is that person who will suddenly come to life. But not me. In the case of this networking event, I stay home.

This is one of the introverts’ traits; knowing when to say no. One’s preference for introversion or extraversion is about energy, not one’s ability to interact with others. Following are six other traits…and challenges introverts must face.

Engaging in in-depth conversation 

The way introverts communicate begins with the way they think. They are drawn to topics of interest and enjoy exploring them at great length. While I’m not a fan of those who say introverts don’t make small talk as well as extraverts, I do admit that making chit chat is not the utmost of importance to me. This is because introverts like me prefer to think deeper, rather than wider. 

Challenges

Small talk is a skill that has its place, particularly during job interviews, with superiors and colleagues, at social events, etc. Introverts must rise to the occasion and draw upon resources like current affairs and conversation that is relevant to the situation. When it comes to interviews, it would be smart to think of talking points, as interviewers consider small talk an important part of an interview.

Thinking before speaking

To introverts their ability to speak with intelligence is about timing, so they choose to share their thoughts when they have their ideas well formulated, not a minute sooner. This is not always true of extraverts who tend to dominate meetings or social gatherings. My MBTI workshop attendees nod their heads in agreement when I assert this observation. I’m sure to add that introverts’ thoughts are just as valid as their counterparts’.

Challenge

Unfortunately introverts might wait a bit too long to contribute their ideas during a meeting. It’s important to keep track of the conversation, particularly when extraverts are conversing at a fast rate. It is believed that introverts are slower at processing information, which is not to say their ability to develop great ideas is diminished.

Listening when others speak 

Introverts have a knack for listening to others when they’re speaking, With their counterpart the same can’t be said, and this is because extraverts have the gift of gab (something introverts envy). Because introverts enjoy in-depth conversations (see strength #1), they’re cognizant of giving and taking. This is one of the introverts’ strength during networking events.

Challenge

If introverts aren’t up to the challenge, they may find themselves doing all the listening, or at least appearing to listen, as others dominate the conversations. Some believe that introverts enjoy listening to others doing all the talking. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is why, in part, they prefer smaller groups where they don’t have to battle for talking rights.

Respect for others

Introverts hate to be interrupted and, as such, they don’t interrupt others. I recall being at a retirement party for one of my former colleagues when another colleague interrupted a conversation I was having. To say I was annoyed would be an understatement. Another thing introverts tend not to do is confront others. Whether this is a good trait is up for discussion. Their style is to address issues in private, rather than out in the open.

Challenge

There comes a time when all’s fair in love and war, as the saying goes. Introverts must understand the pattern of the conversation in which they’re engaged. If they don’t assert themselves, they’ll be left out of the conversation and look like a fool. And in terms of confrontation, introverts should not hold in any ill feelings or anger. This will lead to an outburst which does more harm than good.

Writing

Introverts prefer to write to communicate their messages. E-mail offers a great way to express their thoughts/feelings without having to spend time talking with individuals when work has to be completed. Writing gives introverts the time to formulate their thoughts and present them in the proper forum. After a workshop I will retire to my office space to research on the computer or write articles. Introverts tend to learn best by doing research and writing.

Challenges

Whereas writing grants introverts the time to formulate their thoughts, communications also includes speaking. Introverts can’t rely on the luxury of writing to express their thoughts, especially when the time calls for speaking at an interview or presentation, for instance. Note: Online networking using LinkedIn may give introverts the illusion that they are making bona fide connections. This is a misconception; real connections involve dialog via the phone or in person.

Creativity

Introverts are just as creative as their counterpart, despite what others might think. The workplace places a lot of emphasis on meetings and brainstorming, which are not the introvert’s favorite activities. The introvert prefers working alone or within smaller groups. He enjoys researching the issue and coming to a creative resolution. Brainstorming to the introvert is akin to throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks.

Challenge

Given that meetings and brainstorming are a part of business, the introvert must participate in these activities. He must focus on the tasks at hand and insert his creative thoughts at the right moments. The introvert should arrive at a meeting or brainstorming session with clever ideas prepared.

It turns out that my decision to forgo the networking event was a smart one. A fellow networker tells me that the event was long and tedious, even for an extravert like him. Introverts generally decide against large organized events, but they’ll attend them with the right amount of preparation.

Photo: Flickr, Paul Shanks

book-cover

Job Interview Success for Introverts is available at Packt Publishing

The most important 120 characters on your LinkedIn profile

120We’ve hit a dead end. My customer is over the limit by two characters. “What if we use an ampersand instead of ‘and’?” I suggest. No, she doesn’t like this idea. Doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing. Doesn’t match the flow. She’s exasperated…I’m getting exasperated.

We’re running on 10 minutes just trying to figure out how to stay within 120 characters that are so important to her LinkedIn profile, so important to everyone’s LinkedIn profile. I’m talking about the Professional Headline, or what I call the Branding Headline (BH), as it’s an important part of your branding.

My customer and I are limited on time, and I can sense her impatience. “Is this really important?” she asks. Oh yes, extremely.

The Branding Headline can only be 120 characters (including spaces) long. Less characters than a tweet. It’s prime real estate. Basically it’s where you state what you do and how well you do it. You may choose to go with a branding statement or your title/s and areas of expertise. It’s the first verbiage visitors will see, and it contains keywords that help you get found through a commercial search—it can make the difference of you being on the first of second page.

A poll taken awhile ago on LinkedIn deemed the BH more valuable than the Summary section but less than the Experience section. More valuable than the Summary?! Needless to say, your words must be well chosen.

Visibility: Where does the Branding Headline appear? Part of it appears on your connections’ homepage when you share an update, such as an article or quote or bit of advice. A quick glance at my homepage reveals that the majority of my connections are not posting original content; therefore, they’re not selling their skills in their BH.

Your Branding Headline doesn’t appear when you simply 1) respond to an update, 2) “Like” an update 3), connect with someone, 4) start a group discussion, etc. In a commercial search your BH will always appear in its entirety, and the title and skills the person seeks should be highlighted in your BH.

Importance: For me if I don’t know a person who is asking me to join his network, I will make my decision based on 1) if he has a photo and 2) what his BH says. No photo and a weak BH, I won’t accept that person. Like the photo, the BH tells me quickly who the person is. I don’t have time to view every profile to see if the person is worth connecting with. In short, the BH should accomplish:

  • Along with your photo, your BH first brands you; it is a value statement, an attention grabber.
  • It sets the tone for the rest of your profile, a mini Summary statement. Another poll taken awhile back on LinkedIn says the important sections of the profile, in order, are Experience, Branding Headline, and Summary.
  • It contains important keywords that help employers, potential business parties, customers, and visitors in general find you.

Below are LinkedIn members’ Branding Headlines.

Change your Game and Make More Sales. My clients increase sales 30% or more. A mere 76 words, this Branding Headline captures my attention because of its value statement.

This BH is more impactful because of the accomplishment in it: Sales & Leadership Coach & Consultant; Award Winning Sales Consultant & Director; Wine Consultant/ Wine Judge/ Crafter. It uses 118 characters.

My BH consists of my title and areas of strength. I created it to optimize my profile for “LinkedIn” searches. I’ve used 111 characters. LinkedIn and Career Search Strategist | LinkedIn Profiles | Author | Blogger ~ Job Search, LinkedIn, Introverts

Another BH that sells this LinkedIn member: Online Branding Coach ✮ LinkedIn Trainer ✮ Social Media BootCamp Instructor ✮ Career Specialist ✮ INfluential Speaker!

There are other Branding Headlines that impress, but the time the LinkedIn members put into crafting them was probably significant. I’ve lamented over how I can utilize the remaining nine characters in my BH. My customer eventually settled on the ampersand, but only after minutes of deliberation.

On the mind of a recruiter

Worried on phoneIt’s Casino Night for my kids’ school. I don’t expect much from this event, but it turns out to be more fun than I would have thought. It’s surprising how PTA volunteers can really let loose when alcohol is consumed at great quantities. I talk with two stupid-drunk people at length, and another person with whom I have an interesting conversation.

The interesting conversation of which I speak is with a recruiter from a local computer and network security company. We talk about our occupations, sharing the good, bad, and the ugly. The main message I learn from him is that recruiters don’t have it as easy as we think.

There are jobs a plenty. This recruiter asks me how I see the job market. I tell him it’s getting better but not as good as I’d like. He confirms my statement by telling me he has a ridiculous number of job requests open. This is good, I think. I tell him there are jobseekers with excellent qualifications who come through our career center.

I ask him if he only looks for passive job candidates—those who are currently working. He says his company looks at unemployed candidates, as well. How many months out of work will they consider for a candidate, three, six, nine? He says one year is usually the limit. This is better than I thought. I’m encouraged.

Difficult finding talent to meet his employer’s needs. When I lament that companies expect their new hires to hit the ground running, he corrects me with, “You mean sprinting. Hit the ground sprinting.” Sadly that’s the fact at his company. This recruiter’s job is to find people with extensive Java experience. Not just some Java experience, not even enough Java experience to get them going. He’s looking for people that can jump in on day one.

“How about someone who is capable of mastering what the company needs, within a couple of months.” I offer. He agrees but points out that one of his hiring managers has had an open job for four months. This befuddles him. “A quick learner might be a better in the long run,” I follow. He agrees, but ultimately it isn’t his choice who gets hired.

The résumés, in general, suck. When he tells me this, it is not new news. I’ve been hearing and reading this from frustrated recruiters who skim through poorly written and formatted résumés. Worst of all, they have little to nothing to do with the job a recruiter’s trying to fill. “What can you do?” he says. People desperate for a job will do anything to get an interview.

This, by far, is the worst part of his job, trudging through résumés…all those résumés.

He finally finds the right person, but they don’t interview well. He finds people who have all the skills, job-related and soft, but can’t demonstrate them at an interview. Other recruiters have echoed this; they have no control over what goes on between the hiring manager and the candidates during the interview. Some candidates just don’t do well at interviews.

It must be like sending your child away to summer camp and hoping for the best. In most cases they know the candidate will handle him/herself well, but there’s always the chance that a person will bomb at the interview. Lose their resolve and slide under the table because of their nerves. Shame. Many a good candidate is passed up because he can’t pass the “test.”

Everything goes fine until negotiations. Another recruiter I spoke with told me she was willing to bring someone in for an interview because he had the talent necessary for the job. However, he wouldn’t budge from his salary requirement. She and this person were $10,000 apart for a $100,000+ position and she was sure the gap could be narrowed. He was so adamant that she gave she gave up on him in frustration.

He uses LinkedIn exclusively. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this said and probably won’t be the last. This recruiter no longer uses Monster because his searches aren’t as focused; there’s too much garbage. Linked allows him to zero in on exactly what he needs. I remark that I read only 20% of résumés stored on Monster are read. He doesn’t doubt this.

I bitch about LinkedIn taking away us common folks’ commercial searches. He hasn’t heard about this new rule because he’s a recruiter and benefits from a $12,000-a-year premium account. (This is the figure I’ve heard.) Now I wish I were a recruiter.

He wonders what I do to help my customers. “I teach them to fool people like you,” I tell him. He laughs. I go into my dog and pony show telling him about how I lead workshops on job-search strategies, as well as provide individual assistance through résumé and LinkedIn profile critiques. He seems interested.

Can he meet me for lunch, he wants to know. Now I’m wondering if he wants to know my secrets, or if he’s looking for a job. He’s been with his company for five years. I’m thinking he’s doing damn good—I heard the average tenure is less than two years for a recruiter. I see on LinkedIn that many of the recruiters with whom I am connected, in fact, hop jobs like wildfire. Yes, he’s doing quite well.

I agree to meet him if he’ll talk to my networking group about what recruiters think. He says he’s not much of a public speaker, so to make a joke I tell him neither am I. He laughs. If he doesn’t come in, at least I can tell my customers what’s on the mind of a recruiter.

7 ways to drop the ball in the job search

mistakegirl

I’m not known for my etiquette. For instance, I often forget to send birthday cards to family members,; or I forget their birthdays entirely. When I’ve forgotten birthdays, I’ve essentially “dropped the ball.”

There are a number of ways jobseekers “drop the ball” in their search. They may not be aware of the mistakes they’re making, or they simply may not care. But it only takes dropping the ball once to lose out on an opportunity. Here are seven mistakes that come to mind.

1. Don’t update their résumés to reflect the job requirements. Some of my customers admit to sending a cookie cutter résumé, or one-fits-all, to a prospective employer because it’s the easy thing to do.

Not recommended. It’s sort of like giving someone a Valentine’s Day card that you’ve given your loved one the year before…and the year before that…and the year before that. In other words, you’re not showing any love.

Employers hate receiving résumés that aren’t written to them, ones that don’t address their needs and concerns. So make the extra effort when writing the most important document you’ll write until you land a job.

2. Don’t send a targeted cover letter. Again, like the résumé, the cover letter must reflect the skills and experience that are needed for the particular job. Your cover letter is a great way to tell your story and point the reader to the key accomplishments on your résumé.

One customer of mine sheepishly admitted that she once sent a cover letter with someone else’s name on it. That’s just plain embarrassing but goes to show you that care goes into writing and addressing the requirements of the job.

3. Fail to follow up after sending the documentation. Unless the employer strictly says, “No phone calls, please,” follow up to see if she has received your material. Employers aren’t dumb; they know why you’re calling. You’re calling to put a voice to the résumé and cover letter. In that case, make sure it’s a good voice.

Be prepared to talk about your interest in the job and company, but most importantly be prepared to state what makes you better than the hundreds of other applicants for the job. Have your personal commercial ready to deliver, a commercial that’s tailored to that particular job.

4. Avoid networking. Even though you’ve heard over and over again that networking is the most successful way to land a job, you would rather apply for jobs online. Guess what, the majority of jobseekers are applying for jobs online, and these jobs represent 20% of all jobs available in the job market.

The best way to land a job is to penetrate the Hidden Job Market by networking. Employers would prefer promoting their own employees, but if that isn’t possible, they’ll turn to referrals. The only way to be referred is by knowing someone at the company or knowing someone who knows someone at the company.

Networking doesn’t come easy to everyone, nor do some people like it; however, it must be done. You don’t necessarily have to attend networking groups, but you should make it part of your daily routine. Network wherever you go, whether it’s at a sporting event, your religious affiliation, your dentist’s office, a social gathering.

5. Aren’t taking LinkedIn seriously. I know this is tough for those qualified jobseekers who don’t know what LinkedIn is and don’t understand why it’s important in the job search. I see the dear-in-the-headlights look on my LinkedIn workshop attendees when I ask them how their profile matches up.

These are people who are curious about the application—how it can help in their job search. Well, it can’t help if your LI profile isn’t up to snuff. Rather it can hurt. Here are a few ways it can hurt: 1) it’s identical to your résumé in that it doesn’t provide any new information; 2) it isn’t fully developed; 3) you only have a few contacts or recommendations. There are many more mistakes you can make with your profile.

As a side note, the other night I was talking to a recruiter from RSA who said he spends every day on LinkedIn looking for people to fill his software engineer positions. One point of interest: he told me Monster.com is dead to him. This is how important LinkedIn has become.

6. Don’t prepare for the interview. At the very least you should research the job and the company so you can answer the difficult questions. Take it a step further by gathering insider information on the job and company. Some of my customers have been savvy enough to use LinkedIn to contact people in the company.

However, the night before you can’t locate your interview outfit. You haven’t taken a drive by the company to see where it’s located and how long it will take you to get there. How many times were you told to practice answering some of the predictable questions you may be asked? Again, can you answer questions like, “Why should I hire you” or “Can you tell me something about yourself”?

7. Don’t send a follow-up note. This one kills me. After all the hard work, you don’t follow through with a Thank-You note that shows your appreciation for being interviewed, mentions important topics that were discussed at the interview, or redeem yourself by elaborating on a question you failed to answer. I tell my workshop attendees that the interview isn’t over until they’ve sent the Thank You note.

Don’t drop the ball for any of the aforementioned reasons; instead keep focused on one of the most important times in your life. My not sending birthday cards to my relatives, or even forgetting them all together, is minor in comparison to losing out on an opportunity.

3 reasons why only clicking Like on LinkedIn is meaningless

Like buttonOne day I shared an article on LinkedIn. No sooner had I done this, I received a Like from one of my connections. Now this person must be the fastest reader on earth, or she simply saw my name and hit the Like link.

Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate my articles being Liked. But I would rather receive a comment with or without a Like. Yes, even if the reader thinks it’s total bunk. Here are three reasons why only clicking Like is a waste of time.

1. It’s too easy. Clicking Like takes approximately two seconds, whereas writing a comment involves thought and effort. When I enjoy a great article, I am happy to praise it. But to simply Like it makes me feel lazy.

On the other hand, if the article starts off with a bang and ends dismally, I won’t comment or Like it. Chalk it up as a waste of time, as they say. If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything is what some of us were told by our parents. I follow this advice.

2. It doesn’t promote real interaction. The recipient of a Like has no real recourse, not like he would if a person were to write a glowing statement about the article he shared or comment he contributed. With endorsements, LinkedIn made a statement about its members being more engaging and interacting with each other. At least endorsements provide us with the option of returning the favor.

When I saw the Like that day, I didn’t feel inclined to write a note to my connection, “Thank you for liking my post…uh….” You see what I mean? On the other hand, if said person wrote a comment praising or criticizing it, I would gladly write, “I see your point about brainstorming being appreciated by intuitive types, but for me it’s a drain and often uneventful.”

3. It clutters people’s homepage. Alex Likes a group discussion. Katie Likes this [photo]. When I’m trying to read through the updates that stream on my homepage, I don’t need Likes cluttering it. One of my connections Liked a large photo that had an inspirational quote on it. I’m a huge fan of Morgan Freeman, but I don’t appreciate an image that covers half my screen, as well as an inspirational quote that…didn’t inspire me.

Do the right thing; comment on someone’s update. Whether it’s an article a person shares, a few words of sage advice, a work anniversary announcement, or even a photo with an inspirational quote; don’t merely Like it. Write a comment, instead; or Like it and write a comment. Comments are so much more meaningful.

If you liked this post, or even if you didn’t; write a comment instead of just Liking it.

Brainstorming; does it work for introverts?

BrainstormingOn a visit to my brother’s school (he’s a principal), I noticed a whiteboard in his office with various notes on the school’s vision written on it. “Brainstorming session?” I asked. He nodded.

I thought to myself that I wouldn’t want to have been in that room when a group of people were throwing ideas against the wall like spaghetti to see which ones stick. Furthermore, there were probably others who felt the same.

Brainstorming is good, right? Brainstorming is where great ideas come from, right?

Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, explains that introverts excel in closed environments as opposed to open ones. A self-professed introvert, she supports the belief that a closed environment brings out creativity in introverts, not open environments like those depicted in the movie about Facebook, Social Network. I agree with this assertion to a point.

The work environment Cain describes precludes open brainstorming sessions where employees hold impromptu brainstorming sessions in an open setting, or arrange spontaneous meetings at a minutes notice. Totally unacceptable for the introverts in the group.

open work environmentAs an introvert I consider brainstorming sessions a waste of time, if there is no semblance of order and structure. I grow weary of meetings that resemble a social gathering, where the majority of the talking is done by the extrarverts. However, a well-run meeting that covers all the topics in a quick manner can be extremely effective.

What has proved to be effective with introverts is paring them up with someone to solve problems, rather than chaotic brainstorming sessions. Even if one works with someone who is not in total agreement. “Working alone is good for creativity – but being paired with someone who thinks differently from you can lead to more creativity yet,” states the article.

Why introverts appreciate closed work environments with offices and cubicle supports a number of beliefs about them, such as they learn and gather more through independent research. They don’t want the distractions of colleagues walking into their work-space uninvited. A closed environment also gives them time to recharge their batteries if they’ve been interacting with groups or speaking in front of an audience.

thinking2Does this mean introverts are anti-social? No, but they’re not like their counterparts who seek out the company of others. Although it’s true some introverts, such as the stereotypical programmers, need almost complete privacy; many introverts can join the fracas and engage in office conversation. But, again, their preference is to be alone when it’s time to get down to work.

Read what Cain says in the article about the importance of solitude for introverts: “Solitude, as Cain says, is a key to creativity….Steve Wozniak claimed he never would have become such an expert if he left the house. Of course, collaboration is good (witness Woz and Steve Jobs), but there is a transcendent power of solitude.”

What does this mean for the job search? Jobseekers can gain a lot from understanding their introversion or extraversion preference. At interviews they should make careful note of the work environment and ask questions pertaining to collaboration (brainstorming). If introverts get the sense that brainstorming plays a significant role in the decision process, it may not be the organization for them. Extraverts, on the other hand, would be happy to know that they’ll be among the social, freewheeling types.

To share is golden: 8 reasons to share others’ posts

Share buttonRaise your hand if you share your blog posts and other bloggers’ post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.

Now raise you hand if you only share your posts.

Those of you who share others’ post understand the value of sharing.

  1. It creates reciprocity. I, for one, am more likely to share what others write if they share my posts. It’s just plain right. Blogging pundits say that your posts will be shared more often if you reciprocate.
  2. It demonstrates great personality skills. Sharing posts of other bloggers shows you as someone who thinks of others, not only of yourself, thus portraying you as a team player. You read others’ articles, see value in them, and share them with your audience; demonstrating your awareness and desire to educate your audience (your team).
  3. You are secure in your established expertise. I understand the desire to establish oneself as a thought leader in the industry. But this can also be accomplished by sharing posts of others. Some of my valued connections, who are experts in their field, aren’t afraid that sharing the writing of others will affect their reputation.
  4. You know sharing won’t hurt your brand. “If I promote others’ material, readers will get confused by my message,” you think. Hog wash. If you are so insecure that you feel your message isn’t strong, your voice isn’t poignant, your style isn’t unique; maybe you shouldn’t be sharing your posts on LinkedIn and other platforms.
  5. You don’t come across as narcissistic. Ouch. I know this one hurts. At times I believe I’m guilty of this, so I try to be the best curator of information as possible. But if you only share your posts, you come across as “all that.” The true blogger will acknowledge the efforts of others, not act as though he’s standing in front of the mirror primping himself.
  6. You become known as a curator of great information. LinkedIn is known as the most professional networking platform online. One reasons why LinkedIn has this reputation is because its members provide information capital. I know, for example, that I can find a plethora of articles on the job search, LinkedIn, and introversion—my preferred topics—on LinkedIn.
  7. Sharing is a great way to educate yourself. The posts you share are the ones that teach you something. So impressed with them that you want to comment on the lessons you learned. I learn more about the job search or LinkedIn when I read others’ posts; and, as such, I want to educate my connections.
  8. You add value to LinkedIn. Related to number 6, LinkedIn offers its members more value when they can read a well-written, thoughtful post and learn somethings from them. It makes visiting LinkedIn worthwhile. Conversely, if one were to only post his/her articles, the content would be limited and LinkedIn wouldn’t be the valuable platform it is.

Conclusion: I could be better about sharing; I know this. I search for job posts that are relevant to my connections, posts they will appreciate. I fear that my posts outnumber the ones I share from others, but I’m trying to be better. For those of you who don’t share other bloggers post, perhaps you haven’t learned the lessons of sharing.