We recently received a question from Keith who is having issues getting the word out. He is worried that his introverted nature is holding him back from a professional career. Granted, shielding yourself in the background can be detrimental to your progression, but it’s not the end all. Besides, there are ways to get noticed even the shyest can overcome.
“I’m an admitted introvert who has trouble speaking and acting natural, am I out of luck?”
First step in any direction is defining key terms and then finding solutions to the any blocking issues. With that in mind, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), introverts:
- Enjoy time alone
- Consider only deep relationships as friends
- Feel drained after outside activities, even if they were fun
- Are often good listeners
- Appear calm and self-contained
- Think then speak or act
Looking at the list and you probably see yourself having many (or all) of the characteristics. After all, who doesn’t think before speaking or acting out (Dwight Howard excluding) or consider themselves to be a good listener? Guess, by definition, we are all introverts (to an extent).
Now let’s take a quick moment and look at the list below. Do you recognize any of the people on it. Make sure to keep count for yourself…
- Albert Einstein
- Al Gore
- Bill Gates
- Steven Spielberg
- Warren Buffett
The above are all famous introverts, so there’s no reason to feel like you have no chance at owning a successful, professional career; unless, of course, you limit yourself from having one.
While introverts are just as hirable as extroverts, the latter are more inclined to the two most important aspects of a career search: networking and interviewing. Because both are intended to be highly social activities, you may feel uncomfortable or even frightened to participate in either.
It’s not easy, speaking to people you don’t know. Come to think of it, I must also be a classic introvert… Look for me at the next networking event; I’ll be the one standing alone in the corner, hiding.
I won’t beat around the bush, you have to make networking and interviewing two of your chief skill sets, especially considering they may make you nervous or frightened. I won’t lie; it’s going to take a lot of work and practice on your end, so let’s get started.
Career Tip: You need to participate in networking.
Networking involves creating and maintaining a list of contacts with other career professionals in your industry. Ideally, these professionals who can (and will) help you identify job opportunities, keep up-to-date with current trends and changes in your industry, and even be used as references. As an introvert, this may seem like a daunting task, but the key is to start small and build up.
Social/electronic networking is ideal for the introvert. With sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, the ability to meet and introduce your skills and many valuable contributions can be done without leaving the house.
Career Tip: When going the electronic route, professional courtesy rules.
As for interviewing, it’s all about being prepared and having plenty of practice. When in doubt, practice answering basic interview questions in front of the mirror or with family members. One of the most important interview questions that set the stage is: “Tell me about yourself.” Here’s a clue, the person asking does not want to hear about your personal life, he or she wants to know the many benefits you offer.
Candidates tend to get nervous during interviews because they go in unprepared. Research the company, any competing companies, the products, and always know the company mission statement. Knowing the basics proves you done your work… a great advantage over the majority of candidates forgetting the research step.
Going back to practicing and being prepared, ask a friend or family to conduct a mock interview with you, asking questions directly related to the job posting and company. During your mock interview session, don’t just think about what you would say… say it. The human brain works in such a way that routine activities are recalled more naturally than foreign ones (ever heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect?”).
To directly get back to Keith, you’re not at a disadvantage at all by being an introvert. Think of it as a challenge that will better ground you as a career professional. Are you ready to put the work in? Besides, look at the crowd you happen to be in… a crowd of extremely successful introverts who are forever remembered for their many contributions.
For more articles on how to handle networking and the interview process, visit Education Career Services at edu-cs.com, search Amazon (Danny at ECS), or follow us on Twitter @dannyatecs.
Written by Brandon Hayhurst
Education Career Services