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How Introverts Can Shine in a Job Search

businesswoman waiting for job interviewAt the office holiday party, are you the person in front of the crowd, telling jokes, doing the rounds from table to table — a classic extrovert? Or are you an introvert who’s content to either be a wallflower or join a small group and get involved in a thoughtful discussion?

Introvert and extrovert are personality classifications that can be an accurate, helpful way of identifying character traits, but these labels can also introduce misconceptions. The view of introverts as shy, mousy types who lack social skills is a blatant example. The reality is that half our population is classified as introverted. Most introverts are neither antisocial nor shy; rather, they simply approach interactions differently than their extroverted counterparts. Introverts tend to:

  • Speak less and listen more.
  • Thrive on work that requires quiet focus and concentration, causing them to gravitate toward tech roles that tend to be more solitary.
  • Excel at detail-oriented work.
  • Assimilate well in social situations but choose quiet and solo downtime to reenergize, in contrast with extroverts who gain energy from being around people.

Introverts are often highly adaptable people who bring many benefits to hiring organizations. But if you’re an introvert, you may find it more difficult than an extroverted type to express your noteworthy qualities to current or prospective employers. What can you do to stand out?

Know the benefits you bring

Yes, introverts can be fabulous at solitary, detail work, but they also make great teachers, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. In fact, one study found that 40% of executives are introverts, and for good reasons. When you’re an introvert, you

  • think before you speak;
  • are a creative problem solver;
  • display a calm demeanor in times of chaos or stress;
  • take a strategic approach to networking that forms meaningful connections;
  • are a good listener to coworkers, employers, and clients; and
  • focus on collaborating with and encouraging others.

Communicate your strengths

Interviews can be a difficult time for introverts, as self-promotion isn’t often their strong suit. To ease the process and make sure you highlight your assets, take time to:

  • Predict questions and rehearse answers — Write out and memorize answers to general questions, and consider standing in front of a mirror or recording yourself practicing to become more comfortable.
  • Be ready to talk about your successes.
  • Practice body language that clearly communicates your confidence in your abilities, including sustained eye contact and a firm handshake.
  • Be natural, and be yourself!

A helpful tool is the post-interview thank you note, which gives you a chance to reiterate your value and include extra information you might have forgotten to mention during the interview.

Push yourself forward (gently)

On the job, introverts often don’t seek out or receive the credit for work well done. Although the job path might look different for introverts, who typically take the route of acquiring skills and expertise to gain promotion rather than taking part in office politics, ensure your success by seizing opportunities to promote yourself to coworkers:

  • Talk about your thought process.
  • Speak up when you have something to say, and rejoin the discussion even if you’re interrupted.
  • Speak up when you’ve accomplished something.
  • Position yourself as an expert; by doing so, you invite people to seek your expertise.
  • Connect with people in person; introverts excel at one-on-one interactions.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean you are socially awkward or incapable of career success; in fact, you’re in good company with fellow introverts Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Warren Buffet, and J.K. Rowling, to name a few. By recognizing your strengths and gaining quiet confidence in your skill set, you can help promote yourself and build your career.

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