I constantly get emails from people who define themselves as introverts. (I also get emails from their families and friends.) All of the questions center around two things: “How do I get a job, if I’m an introvert?” and “I hate to interview because I’m an introvert.” And the answer is both simple and difficult: find something you really enjoy doing, become educated in that field, and do it.
Being an introvert is not the same for everyone. Researchers who study personality types have identified four different introvert personalities. It’s not just the opposite of extrovert, and being an extrovert isn’t the goal for most people. The types that seem to be commonly accepted are: Social; Thinking; Anxious and Reserved/Restrained.
Social introverts prefer alone time and like to work independently. Thinking introverts can be imaginative and reflective – many authors or artists fall into this category. Anxious introverts can feel awkward, fearful and like they don’t fit into a social (or even work) situation. Reserved/Restrained introverts tend to get started more slowly and think before they act.
Ryan, whom I have known since he was in junior high, explained his introversion like this: “I’m not sure I can give advice to those folks. I don’t really find it difficult to communicate with people or solve problems or lead projects or anything, because I’m good at communicating. My introversion is just a preference of being alone, rather than shyness. I learned to communicate on my (church) mission, so maybe my advice would be, ‘if you want a job, you gotta communicate. There’s no way around it – just do it. It’ll hurt for awhile but you’ll get used to it.’”
The key to finding any job is preparation. If you know that you love to write, take classes that teach you how to improve and how to get published. If you know that you like repairing things, take classes to become a plumber or an electrician. Become an over the road truck driver, or a lab technician. Everyone has a hobby or something they just like to do, and you can turn that into a career.
For example: If you like art and graphic design, you can free lance or even work with a company. Just remember that you might have to deal with pesky salespeople if you work with a company. When I researched the best jobs for introverts, I found some surprises. Crafts and fine art were high on the list. Did you realize that our most famous artists may have been introverts? What about Van Gogh? He cut off his own ear in an argument with Gauguin. Or Gauguin lopped it off with a sword in the argument.
But I digress.
The list also included forensic technician, forester, conservation scientist, technical writer and airline pilot. The main thing that you need to realize is that there is a career out there for you. I know it can be hard, but you can do it without becoming an extrovert. Many introverts tend to think of extroverts as crazy, loud, and just generally a mess. Obviously you wouldn’t want to be all that, but wouldn’t some extrovert characteristics be a good thing?
Speaking of extroverts, do you think it’s a lot easier to get a job if you’re an extrovert? No, it isn’t. If they don’t plan ahead, educate themselves, or concentrate on a specific career, they have a difficult time finding a job, too.
The best way to become just a little more extroverted is to be more open-minded. Accept that sometimes you may think a specific action is crazy, but it may be a good one. Try it. Once you realize that everyone you meet is more interested in themselves than in you, you’ll feel more confident in yourself.
I know I do.