Anyone going into a job interview must prepare very carefully. However, baby boomers have a special concern: how to deal with the issue of age discrimination. Even if you discount age discrimination (which continues to be rampant), there is a tendency for hiring managers to want the “latest, greatest” in all things, and that may mean a predisposition to hire younger professionals who are thought to be “on the way up.” Once you hit 45, it is important to show that you are not only capable of doing the job, but passionate about doing so. In my latest article, which appears in U.S. News & World Report, I offer key interview tips for how to make this happen. Read The Full ArticlePhoto Credit: Shutterstock
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Let’s face facts… Most engineers are introverts. We tend to be quiet, reserved, thoughtful, and recluse.
The old joke — how do you identify an extroverted engineer? She looks at your shoes instead of her own.
Now, not all engineers are introverts, and I understand this distribution. In my career, the extroverted engineer is a rarity on a team. I have known a few extroverted engineers, and they are fantastic! Many of my best engineers have been these introverts. How do I connect with them?
Energy Is The Key…
A common misconception is introversion means shyness or a wallflower. Extroversion is the class clown or outspoken person on the team.
Terry Tipple, Tipple Consulting, taught me an invaluable lesson. Introversion and extroversion are based on energy. Introverts recharge batteries inside, and extroverts are fueled by the people around them every day. I have known very outspoken introverts, and I am one myself. I have also known quiet and reserved extroverts as well who simply like being with people.
How do you make connections with these introverts?
Play On Their Turf.
Because an introvert must exert energy in a social setting, they often need time to recharge before their next encounter. As a result, big meetings with many people may cause an introvert to be quiet and reserved. Sitting in an open office where chatter and conversations continue all day long is draining. Typical extroverted business roles in marketing, sales, and management can drain an engineer’s energy throughout the day.
When you know you are working with an introvert, come to their terms. Meet them individually to allow them to interact on a smaller scale. One-on-one conversations are simpler than these complex, multi-faceted meetings.
Give your introverts time between important discussions. Allow them to reflect, percolate ideas, and develop their thoughts. Attacking an introvert with a barrage of questions without that downtime is ineffective. Provide them the space to recharge a bit.
Defeating The Stigma Of Introversion…
Because someone is quiet and reserved in a social setting does not define that person’s contribution. Often, the silent thinking person can offer great insight. They observe and refine. Their mind processes various pieces of information drawing conclusions from the various thoughts.
Being quiet and reflective can take similar energy as the boisterous person speaking for 30 minutes without a breath. Refraining from reacting to an action can allow for great insight while developing a response. Being the center of attention does not define success.
Step One: I Am Jim, And I Am An Introvert
I was once described as a wallflower, and in many ways, I still am. I keep quiet in some situations, and I often reflect on the big picture before speaking my mind.
Would you be surprised I am a bass player in a successful cover band playing nearly 100 shows a year? Most weekend nights, I rock out to my band’s favorite tunes for dozens and hundreds of people. I put excessive amounts of energy into my performance. I confess: I have to work at this because it is not my default behavior.
I am deeply introverted. When tested, I bury the needle on these attributes. Yet, I can lead a team or perform for hundreds of people. I spend a lot of energy meeting the extroverts at their table. However, the next day I am exhausted. I need time alone to recharge and repair myself. After two weekend concerts with the band, I am a slug.
Extroverts — How Can You Relate?
Since your energy derives through interacting with others, meet us introverts face to face in a smaller setting. One-on-one helps. If you want our input in a social setting, do not call us out in front of a group. Ask us individually.
The big thing... do not judge our silence or reservations as noncompliance or competency. Give us the room to breathe, process, and assimilate. When you recognize our retreat, do not go in for the kill—allow us to back up and regroup. Attack will simply drive us deeper into our safe zone.
In all seriousness, simply give introverts a chance to process information. You may be pleasantly surprised by what we can offer. Our insight can lead to new ways of thinking. Giving us space allows our process to flow.
Can An Introvert Survive?
The answer is yes. We are capable of thriving in an extrovert’s world. Sometimes, we need to act like our counterparts in situations that require us to be more open. Other times, we can use our introspection to see clearer views of the situation. Our alone time to recharge batteries is our superpower.
Introverted engineers unite! We collectively solve many of the world’s problems! We can be powerful forces in business to drive amazing results. We can overcome our “shyness” by providing unique insights. We can make a difference.
I recommend we introverts use our gifts and continue to change the world… even if only from the shadows!
"Why am I still unemployed?"
At Work It Daily, we're asked this question a lot. The reality is, the reason is different for everyone. The good news? You can overcome whatever is holding you back from getting hired.
Here are five reasons you're still unemployed:
1. Your Resume Isn’t Job Specific
While it's good to have a strong resume with all of your professional skill sets, your resume can become generic when all you do is send the same resume to every open position you find.
The Solution:Customize your resume for each job you apply for. By taking the time to customize your resume with relevant skill sets and specific keywords that are in the job description, you'll be more likely to land an interview and, therefore, will have more viable job opportunities.
2. You’re Overqualified
This problem is common among older workers looking for a career change. But this can happen to anyone who has a lot of experience and is trying to get their foot in the door at another company.
The Solution: During an interview, make it your mission to connect with the employer. Tell a story. Let them know you aren't just running out the clock. If they ask about your 5-year plan, don't mention retirement. Your career isn't over yet.
3. You’re Underqualified (Or Lack Exposure To The Professional World)
On the flip side, you could be unemployed because you don't have enough experience orthe right skill sets to do the jobs you've been applying for. Maybe you're a recent college grad, and at this point, you're just begging someone to give you a chance. Whatever your situation, employers are making it very clear you aren't qualified.
The Solution: Take classes or earn certificates to try to develop new skills. Volunteer or intern to get the type of professional experience employers are looking for. Focus on the skill sets you do have and learn how to quantify those skills on your resume to stand out to hiring managers.
4. You've Stopped Being Proactive In Your Job Search
If you really want a job, your actions have to reflect your attitude. As the weeks (or maybe months) drag on and you still haven't found a job, you may find yourself getting into a dangerous job search routine. You apply for half a dozen jobs every day and hope for the best. This strategy rarely works. If you want quality job opportunities, you need to be proactive.
The Solution: Make networking a priority. Go to job fairs. Reach out to employees at companies you'd love to work for on LinkedIn. Start compelling, professional conversations with them. Remember: you're a business-of-one. The better you actively market yourself to employers, the more job opportunities you'll likely receive.
5. You've Lost All Urgency
It can be easy to get into a job search rut. Time goes by differently when you don't have a set routine. The longer it takes for you to find a job, the harder it is find the motivation to get a job. You may begin to lose confidence in yourself and your skills as a professional. When your career is suddenly on hold, your life can feel like it is without purpose or direction.
The Solution:Set goals and work towards them—even if they're just small goals. They could be career-related goals, or not. Maybe you want to get in better shape. Maybe you want to learn a new skill. If you set goals for yourself, you'll regain that sense of purpose—and better yourself in the process.
Being unemployed is tough. If you follow these tips, you'll have the tools to overcome the challenges you face in the job search process.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.