The prospect of job hunting can be particularly challenging for an introvert. If you find yourself on the introverted side of the I-E continuum, you’ve likely felt that key segments of the search process were stacked against you. Between the “on the spot” nature of interview questions and required networking — the process can seem a complete mismatch with regard to your strengths. Unfortunately, the proverbial “one size fits all ” workplace bias, can also extend to the selection process. So, what are the best techniques to bend the odds in favor of finding the right job-person match?
While many people confuse being introverted with shyness, introversion is in fact about how an individual handles stimulation and processes information. Fortunately, as the importance of embracing individual differences increases in the workplace, the so-called mysteries of introversion will become more universally understood. This aside, turning ourselves completely “inside out” while job hunting is simply not necessary. Introversion is not the problem or a weakness — the challenge is to effectively relay vital information concerning our strengths, as they mesh and align with potential roles. This effectively increases the potential of finding that “best fit” opportunity.
Mechanisms that help to communicate the “whole story” become critical. In many cases, introverts possess a unique set of qualities that are not fully expressed within the traditional job search process. (Many of these qualities can only be appreciated with time.) This can lead to inaccurate or incomplete impressions concerning capabilities. Ultimately, this a communication gap that we cannot afford.
A few thoughts to consider:
- Let your network work for you. Not earth-shattering news — but, strategic none the less. (More on branding for introverts from HBR here.) You may not personally wish to broadcast your accomplishments at every turn — and you likely have limits on your desire to network. So, start small, and concentrate on connecting with one or two individuals at events which provide networking opportunities. Also remember that others may be more than happy to do some of this for you. Let your trusted, established connections know exactly what you are looking for — as they can also serve as a powerful marketing team. Those willing to recommend you for a role, team or project, can contribute to the positive buzz. This may lead you to the right role.
- Yep, you’ll still need an “Elevator Pitch” (or two). It’s difficult to communicate important messages about our work when answering questions in a pinch or presenting — so craft the messages you wish to convey at your own thoughtful pace, on your own time. As discussed by Susan Cain, find methods that allow you to start with smaller steps. Fill 2-3 note cards with vital information concerning what you bring to the table and your target role. Then choose the salient points. (You can also utilize a recording device to video yourself delivering the messages.) It can take a few “takes” to perfect the messages — but, you’ll likely find an opportunity to use them.
- Build a 3-D social media presence. Utilize social media channels to represent your work — as this process allows you to build your presence with the forethought you crave. Start a blog in a niche area to gain visibility. “Flesh” out skeleton profiles with examples of your work and the real-life problems that you’ve solved. Many sites allow room to highlight past projects — so be creative in this regard. LinkedIn for example, allows you to upload images, video, documents and other information about you and your work directly to your profile.
- Express your Personal Value Proposition (PVP). Educating others about you and your unique qualifications is what the job search process should be about — and a personal value proposition is critical. (Read the HBR post here.) Companies such as the 1-Page Company, allow you to develop your own proposal as a vehicle to let organizations know exactly what you bring to the table. The platform has the capability to help you communicate your skill set and your creative solutions to specific problems.
- Live your dream. Passion for your work can carry you a very long way. If you have a dream role or “vision” project, attempt to make this a reality. Interestingly, you don’t necessarily have to wait for a single employer to give you the go ahead — you can make it happen your way. If you are open to freelance work, O-Desk and Elance offer a great platform to link you with the work that you enjoy and aligns with your strengths. Sites such as Kickstarter, offer an opportunity to gain funding for your dream project.
- Practice the “power pose”. Gaining a mental edge before an interview is also important — as sometimes our own bodies betray us. Recent research has shown that our physical stance shortly before an interview, can affect what we project (and how we are subsequently evaluated) during that interview. Spending as little as 2 minutes in a “power pose” can lower the amount of the stress hormone cortisol flowing through our bodies. I’d say it’s worth a try.
- Know your limits. The job hunt can include many situations that are quite stimulating. While activities such as networking, professional meetings and conferences are important to find a job you love — know when you’ve had enough. Many introverts can feel drained after participating in these types of situations, so leave ample time to recharge.
What techniques have you utilized to help find a role you love?
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and speaker. The Office Blend, has been recognized by Forbes as one of their “Top 100 Websites for Your Career” in both 2012 and 2013.