No matter where we sit on the introvert-to-extrovert scale, we all want to stand out in a job application. A sense of humour can be a disarming and endearing quality, but is it risky to pepper your CV and cover letter with jokes?
Actor and comedian Diana Nguyen knows how to make people smile, but she also knows the confidence hit that comes with being made redundant. It's hard to feel funny when you're looking for a job.
Long before Nguyen started dancing on LinkedIn and performing stand-up shows, she helped migrant refugees prepare for job interviews. Nine years in, she lost her job in a restructure.
She tells LinkedIn we all need a reminder to be ourselves, especially when we’re feeling nervous.
“When I was working with refugees, we talked about topics like ‘how do you walk into an interview?’. It’s simple things, like remember to smile, make eye contact, have a bit of joy behind your eyes.
"Sometimes I think the thing that’s missing from people’s professional interactions is a bit of joy.”
She suggests there’s a balance between making overt jokes, and simply letting your true self shine.
“It’s a good thing to show a bit of lightness. You don’t want to show your whole personal life — there is such thing as an overshare — but if you just allow people a little light into who you are and what your passions are, they can see how you will contribute to their business.
“In the end, you’re also trying to see the person interviewing you as an individual. You don’t just want a job, you want to be part of someone’s family and to help them build their business.”
She suggests including a section in your CV that tells employers about your passions, often titled ‘about’, ‘hobbies’ or ‘mission’.
“I think it’s important to highlight in the written word the things you’re passionate about so for me, it’s the arts. If I wrote that I attended clown school, someone would stop and look at that.”
And yes, she really did attend clown school.
“After redundancy, we have a tendency to pay off a debt or buy a car, but I went to clown school."
“Then I used some of the money to go to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and performed there. I made it the next step in ‘me’.
“We have a mentality of finding a job really quickly but my advice is just sit in it for a bit. Tick something off the bucket list, because when you get another job, life will go on.”