4 Ways Introverts Can Stand Out and Land the Perfect Job
Did you know that up to half of all people in the U.S. are introverts? This fact, revealed in Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” was also was explored in her popular TED Talk, and it has ignited a conversation about the power of introverts.
In her book and TED Talk Cain addressed the undervaluing of introverts, especially in the workplace. She noted that hiring managers often overlook introverts because introversion is seen as a weakness. The good news for introverts is that many of their defining traits are strengths that can make them the best candidates for a wide range of jobs.
According to The Myers & Briggs Foundation, introverts are people who gain energy by being alone and lose energy by being around others. Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy by being around other people and lose energy by being alone.
The level of introversion varies by person, but introverts tend to be more reserved and uncomfortable in large groups. Introverts might seem less engaged or enthusiastic because they’re more introspective. These traits can be misinterpreted as indifference or a lack of passion, but they can be real assets in the workplace.
Why Hiring Managers Overlook Introverts
During a job interview a hiring manager might perceive an introverted candidate as dull or lacking confidence because of his or her reserved demeanor and short, fact-based responses to questions.
What the hiring manager can’t see during such a short interaction is the introvert’s amazing ability to observe his or her environment with surgical precision. This trait allows the introvert to notice small nuances that other people often miss. Introverts tend to have a tremendous work ethic but don’t usually feel the need to let anyone know.
And because an introvert might not be perceived as a “people person,” he or she might be overlooked for a promotion because it’s assumed the person doesn’t know how to manage others. It’s also true that many introverts don’t apply for internal positions or advocate for promotions because they don’t enjoy being in the spotlight.
Why Introverts Make Great Job Candidates
Although it’s clear why introverts might get passed over, it’s important to realize the flip side: how their traits can add value to a company.
Introverts make great employees because they’re excellent listeners, effective writers, diligent researchers and great decision makers, among other positive qualities. They also don’t need the constant praise and validation required by many extroverts. Introverts only need clear and concise direction and information. They excel in environments that allow them the autonomy to do their work with minimal interruption.
If introverts are given room to breathe, they can do amazing things. For instance, introverts are perfect for jobs that require analysis and forming relationships. Some of the roles in which introverts excel might even surprise you — sales, for instance. No matter the role, though, introverts are team players who can add value to any organization and work well with everyone.
How Introverts Can Stand Out
If you recognize some of these traits in yourself, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success during the job search and interview process:
1. Be picky
Focus on what you really want in a job and workplace. Research a company before applying so you can avoid a situation that isn’t a good fit. For example, you probably don’t want to work in a job where you have multiple bosses always looking over your shoulder. Look for an opportunity that will afford you some autonomy.
2. Take your time
You don’t like to be rushed or pressured into things, so allow plenty of time to review your options. You can avoid stress by setting some parameters for the type of job you want and the type of company you’re looking for. Then you can narrow down your top choices before applying. When it’s interview time, prepare in advance so you can go in with confidence.
3. Observe during the interview
During interviews you should tap into your power of observation and study how the hiring manager is responding. If she seems disengaged, try to elaborate more on your answers and make eye contact to show you’re engaged. A genuine smile never hurts.
4. Follow up after the interview
Take time to reflect after the interview and consider how things went. Think about the interview from the hiring manager’s perspective. List reasons why you’re right for the job. Write a note to the hiring manager thanking her for the opportunity. Include a brief summary of how you can help meet the company’s goals. This is an easy way to forge a connection, show your appreciation and reinforce your interpersonal skills.
It’s understandable why hiring managers sometimes overlook introverts. Armed with this knowledge, you can take steps to help them see that you’re an ideal candidate. Learn how to effectively communicate your strengths and you’ll stand out in the job market and serve as an example of the power of introverts.
Brook Price is president and co-founder of Forte Strong, a failure-to-launch program that gives young men the skills and character traits they need to tackle the challenges of life. Brook has more than 15 years of experience working for some of the most prestigious leadership programs in the nation.