THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

A Guide to Jobs for Introverts

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PILAR Introverts
In the U.S. and most western countries, success in the workplace largely depends on how well you are able to network, “sell” your abilities, and carry yourself with confidence. Often, this boils down to being a “people person” or having extroverted tendencies.

But what happens if you are not extroverted by nature and making small talk or connections does not come naturally to you? What if you would rather stay at home and read a book instead of going to a networking event? Does that mean you are doomed to an unsuccessful career?

The answer is no. Being an introvert or a more modest person is not a flaw or weakness, though many voices in our culture teach you that it is. This guide will help show you how you can use your personality and preferences to your advantage and have a thriving career.

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Chapter 1

Approaching the Workforce as an Introvert

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Chapter 2

Jobs for Introverts

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Chapter 3

Job Interviews for Introverts

Chapter 1:

Approaching the Workforce as an Introvert

If you’ve been in any sort of traditional job before, you have likely discovered that generally, the workforce is not set up for introverted people.

Many offices have open-floor plans making privacy and concentration all but impossible, distractions frequent, and personal interaction unavoidable.

Many vocational issues for introverts arise because they do not thrive in hectic, overstimulating environments that put them on the spot, make energetic demands, and force them to interact with others under an unspoken “professional” code.

This can result in an introverted person feeling like they are somehow broken, unprofessional, or incompetent. But the first thing to understand about jobs for introverts is that it’s not you who are flawed, it’s a system designed for an extroverted person.

While knowing this doesn’t necessarily change the day-to-day struggles you may face in your job as an introvert, it will hopefully help you not feel that your struggles are a result of inadequacies in yourself.

In fact, being introverted offers some very powerful benefits to your team and company, if both you and they are willing to utilize them.

Introversion is a strength

Because our culture tends to value the loud and confident approach to most things, these personality attributes are often considered to be correlated to strength and ability, when in reality, the loud talker may be just that–good at posing, but not very good at anything else.

This is not true of all extroverted people of course, but what we’re trying to do here is demonstrate that extraversion does not equal being better.

The workplace setup is likely easier for extroverted people so they may appear better at many things involving work, but it isn’t necessarily so.

Let’s take a look at some strengths introverts in particular have to offer.

Introvert strengths in the workplace

The strengths an introverted person brings to a job can be easily overlooked, but are vital to peaceful and effective work environments. Obviously not all introverts will have all of these skills, but many have some of them and use them to great effect. Some of these pivotal strengths include:

Listening

When you talk less, you hear more. Many introverted people are excellent listeners and are able to actively listen (listening to understand, not to respond) and observe non-verbal cues that offer a level of understanding and ease of communication with the speaker. This is an invaluable skill at any level of the workforce, but is especially powerful in leaders.

Being approachable

Being a thoughtful listener has the added benefit of building trust, which makes people more likely to feel comfortable coming to you with an issue or a question. Being able to communicate about these things quickly and productively will not only continue to build good rapport, but will make your work day efficient and harmonious.

The flip side to this strength is that people may feel a little too comfortable sharing things with you. You may wind up in a situation that begins to feel unethical or inappropriate if a colleague, subordinate, or manager starts sharing things about their private lives, workplace beefs, or other opinions.

While it’s an amazing trait to make people feel at ease with you, it’s important to have boundaries with your coworkers and enforce them so that you don’t end up being a confidant for information you do not want or should not know.

Thoughtful and articulate

Introverts often have a lot of empathy, which means that they have the ability to imagine themselves being in someone else’s circumstances and feeling what it must be like to be that person.

This can be an incredible gift and makes for you being very thoughtful and carefully articulate when handling the people around you.

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However, here is another area where it is very important to have boundaries. Because you are so good at being empathetic, you may be absorbing the emotions of those around you and feeling like it is your responsibility to ease their discomfort or solve their problems.

This is not the case. You do not have to take on another person’s emotional labor, in the workforce or in any other area of your life. You are responsible for yourself, no one else.

Make sure you protect your empathy so that it can be used to serve you and your career well without becoming self-destructive.

Conflict resolution

Empathy and good listening also result in understanding both sides of a conflict and being able to come to a happy resolution.

Many introverts dislike conflict and actively avoid any chance of encountering it, but if you can overcome the desire to run from confrontation you may discover that you are very good at solving problems–particularly interpersonal problems.

Your keen observation skills and thoughtfulness help you get to the heart of the matter and resolve issues in a way that helps everyone feel heard and seen. This is a super power!

Know what you need (and ask for it!)

A common struggle for introverts is feeling like they can’t ask for things that they need in order to thrive at work.

This may be because they don’t actually know what they need, or because they’ve been shamed since childhood for needing a calmer environment than most everyone else.

It’s also an unfortunate fact that some workplaces will be biased towards more extroverted people and you may face negative consequences for speaking up about what you need.

However, if you have a good boss and work for a good company, it will be understood that your productivity, efficiency, and work life satisfaction will be far greater if you feel heard and are set up to do the best work that you can.

For you this may mean requesting a desk by a window, having permission to use noise cancelling headphones, working in an isolated conference room, or negotiating work-from-home options.

The workplace is (thankfully!) becoming more flexible and accommodating to work differences, and you are well within your rights to ask for what you need.

Don’t feel you have to suffer through an over-stimulating environment when it’s very possible to advocate for reasonable accommodation for yourself.

Know what you need and ask for it!

Ready to land your Dream job?

Chapter 2:

Jobs for Introverts

Since the traditional workforce was not designed for introverted people, it’s not likely that you, as an introvert, will be interested in careers that are high-stress, cut-throat, and people-centric.

The restrictive office and social environment of the corporate world is also not likely to be your jam. (It may be, and that’s wonderful! You can still thrive in those types of environments by working with your introverted tendencies rather than against them.)

The trouble is, hectic, people-focused career paths tend to be some of the best compensated and well-known, meaning that a young introvert may feel that their personality is going to keep them from being financially stable and successful and so they curtail their own potential.

Alternatively, they may think they have to repress their introverted tendencies in order to succeed, and so choose a fast-paced career path only to burn out in a few years from the pressure of trying to force themselves into a mold that they just aren’t going to thrive in.

Thankfully, the rest of the world is starting to catch up to the strengths of quiet and introverted people and you don’t have to be in the corporate world or a hectic environment in order to make a good living and have the kind of career you want.

Introverts make great leaders

Leadership is often correlated with traits like aggression, boisterous confidence, and bold decisions. The issue with these kinds of “go-getter” attitudes in leaders is they often lead to impulsive decisions, a lack of intuition and understanding, and general thoughtlessness.

Contrary to popular belief, a good leader should lead from the back of the pack, facilitating the strengths in all of her team members and leading by example and integrity–not plowing ahead with mule-headed insistence and loud proclamations of being the boss.

When you have someone who is able to help every member of a team work together, you then have the strength of the entire team working in tandem, as opposed to one individual attempting to lead with brute strength.

As we saw from exploring the strengths of introverts above, these are exactly the kind of traits introverts have in spades.

In fact, Forbes has reported on new research that has found that empathy is the most important leadership skill a person can have.

If you’re an empathetic introvert, this is great news for you! Your unique traits are very much a positive in helping you attain your career goals, so use them to your advantage!

Stand up for yourself and don’t get left behind

Introverts often hold themselves back in their careers without meaning to. Self-promotion is a big part of getting noticed, and getting noticed can lead to the positive affirmations and promotions you may be wanting.

Many quiet people tend to believe that if they do good work, give it all they have, go the extra mile, and don’t cause any problems, the people around them will notice and reward them for it.

Sadly, it doesn’t work like this.

All this approach will get you is passed over for promotion and a larger workload.

Instead of seeing your thorough diligence for what it is, your modest nature will often be seen as apathy towards recognition. It will be assumed that you don’t care about things like awards and promotions, you just love your job and being there for everybody.

While you may very well like your job and helping people out, no one wants to feel used and unappreciated, which is often how introverts can begin to feel in their jobs.

Instead of taking the “working well and hoping to be noticed” approach, start keeping track of your accomplishments. It’s good to do this quarterly so you can keep accurate track of all that you do and the results that come from your work.

Next, when it’s time for a review or promotion, you will be armed with the evidence of all that you do and you can let that give you the confidence to speak up for yourself.

No one is ever going to care as much about your career as you. No one is going to give you the things you deserve if you don’t put yourself in the position to receive them. So put yourself out there and show them what you’ve got!

Promotions are not the only area where you should be standing up for yourself. Unfortunately many people may try to take advantage of your passive and accommodating nature. Don’t let them.

Nervous About Your Interview?

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Don’t feel that you have to pick up the slack for others, that you can’t ever say no to overtime, that you have to be the office errand boy, or organize office events.

It will take some adjusting if your colleagues are used to using you in this way, but set boundaries and keep them firm. Just because you “don’t mind” doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to be a doormat. Teach people how to treat you by showing them the kind of behavior you won’t accept.

Potential jobs for introverts

We’ve talked a lot about approaching your job as an introvert and how your traits are strengths that can serve you well. But what are these jobs for introverts that you can thrive in? Where are all the quiet people?

Don’t let the label of “introvert” keep you from something you enjoy. You may thrive working with people so long as you get enough time to re-charge at the end of the day. You may love managing a fast-paced team so long as you can unplug when you’re off.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and every introverted person is different in what they are looking for and what they need to thrive in their job.

That said, here are some potential jobs for introverts that you can explore.

Some introverts find that it’s actually better for them to do something for work that pushes them outside their comfort zone, otherwise they grow too lonely and isolated. This may be a good strategy for you as well.

There is no wrong way to choose a job. Just be sure to be honest with yourself about your strengths and what kind of environment you need to thrive.

If you began your career in one industry and are miserable, don’t be afraid to pivot. Career changes can be scary and stressful, but they are also the first step to an amazing new career–one that may be a much better fit for you. Don’t be afraid to bet on yourself and do what’s best for you.

Ready to land your Dream job?

Chapter 3:

Job Interviews for Introverts

Very few people enjoy going to job interviews, but they can feel particularly stress-inducing for introverts. You are, after all, being asked to sit in front of a stranger and give an account of all of your career decisions up to that point.

It’s easy to feel like you’re being judged, because, well, you are being judged. And for someone who spends a lot of their time cherishing silence and solitude, this can feel like hell.

As uncomfortable as job interviews can be for introverts, there are ways to work with your introversion that don’t require putting on a show or trying to be something you’re not while also giving a great interview.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can accomplish this.

Utilize your soft skills

Being on the job is not the only place you can use your introverted strengths. They can serve you particularly well in interviews too.

You have the ability to listen better and give more thoughtful responses in interviews than someone who is not as adept at interpersonal skills.

You will be able to pick up clues about what the interviewer cares most about and what they’re really getting at with their questions. As a result, you’ll be able to tailor your answers more specifically to certain questions instead of providing overly general responses. For example, you can pick up on a concern about your technical skills and find a way to reassure them.

Your listening skills also help you come across as more respectful — you’ll let the interviewer finish their questions or statements before responding, you won’t interrupt, and are unlikely to go off on an irrelevant tangent.

The downside to being more aware of your interviewer is you may be easily thrown if they are in a bad mood, or generally giving off a negative attitude. You can start to get too in your head and start spiraling, growing nervous, agitated and assuming the worst.

Getting a handle on your nerves and practicing well before the interview will minimize these effects, so we’ll talk about these things next.

Managing your nerves

Generally, introverts get very anxious when thinking about a new social situation. Especially one that involves a lot of pressure with high stakes, like a job interview. They can get distracted easily with worst-case scenarios, worrying about what to do if they are asked a question they can’t answer, or make a mistake and say something stupid.

While nerve-managing exercises such as breathing deeply and visualizing positive outcomes can be very helpful and should be used to help stay the roller-coaster of anxiety going on in your mind, the number one thing you can do to manage your nerves is to prepare well.

If you go into an interview armed to the teeth with information and skills to handle even the toughest interview question, there is a lot less to be nervous about.

And the good news is? That power is 100% in your control. We’ve designed Big Interview specifically for job seekers like you–people who find it difficult to interview and don’t know how to answer typical interview questions.

We have lessons on everything from how to answer “tell me about yourself” to how to negotiate your salary, complete with a Mock Interview Tool that allows you to simulate the interview room in real time and gives you immediate AI feedback on how you can improve.

You can make all of your mistakes privately in practice so that you can go into the interview with only your best answers in your pocket.

If that sounds like something you’d be interested in exploring, you can sign up right now.

Learn to improvise

One of the reasons extroverts are generally more comfortable in an interview setting is they have the ability to “wing it.”

For introverts, this knack doesn’t come as easily.

The good news is, most interviews are structured around the same kinds of questions, so it’s easy to predict what you will be asked.

This means you’ll know exactly what to practice and how to outline your answers.

We always recommend creating an outline for your answers when you practice. This does NOT mean writing a script and memorizing it, but instead giving yourself an outline to follow and practicing until you can answer seamlessly and confidently without your notes in front of you.

(We’ve written an entire guide on how to answer interview questions you can check out here.)

Understanding what the interviewer is asking for and how to structure your interview answers will help you be able to riff even if you’re asked a question you didn’t specifically prepare for.

Have confidence in your introvertedness

When you are inevitably asked what one of your weaknesses is, do not mention your introvertedness, or that you are shy, or don’t talk much.

Being an introvert is not a weakness, even if it makes some things about the workforce harder for you.

You want to conduct the interview in a way that focuses on your strengths and how they will contribute to the team and company.

If you walk into the interview room feeling as if you don’t belong there and everything in your manner is apologetic about who you are, you won’t appear as the capable, skilled, perfect person for the job. You will seem like someone who doesn’t believe in themselves, and therefore doesn’t inspire anyone else to believe in them either.

Lean into your strengths, enter your interview knowing you are qualified, capable, and have every right to be there. Don’t apologize for who you are or try to hide it either. Your introverted nature gives you a tremendous skill set that any team would be lucky to have. Conduct yourself accordingly.

Practice

We must once more emphasize the importance of practice. We have seen some introverted candidates memorize scripts to answer questions with and come off sounding canned and rehearsed.

Others think their answers through in their heads but never practice out loud or record themselves so they don’t realize how many vocal tics they have or that they never make eye contact or that they ramble too much.

Nervous About Your Interview?

If you feel that not being good at “selling” yourself has held you back in your career, Big Interview’s comprehensive practice software can help you. Learn how to answer any interview question calmly and with confidence.
Get Instant Access

Practicing on your own or with a tool like Big Interview can be the difference between landing the job and starting from zero again.

So start your research and get practicing!

Walk away if it’s not a good fit

A job interview is just as much an audition for the company as it is for you. You should be scoping out the company, your interviewer, the work environment, culture, and whatever other information you can gather from the interview to help you determine if it’s a place you would like to work.

Many interviewees forget this, staying completely focused on making the best impression they can. But also pay attention to how the interviewer is making an impression on you.

If the interviewer is rude, disrespectful, condescending, or bullying in any way, this is good for you to note. While they may not be representative of every employee in the company, it says a lot about what the workplace culture might be like and who you may be working with.

Even if you get a job offer, don’t feel forced or bullied into taking a job you don’t want. We’ve helped a client before where the job was never formally offered, so they didn’t feel as if they could say no when asked to come into HR and fill out paperwork–the company had just assumed they would accept the job and the client was too shy and uncomfortable to say they were not interested. Eventually, they did quit, but only after months of being in a job they never wanted in the first place!

If the interview or hiring process feels uncomfortable for you, it’s possible the whole job will feel that way and it’s simply not a fit for you. That’s okay! It can feel bad to turn down an opportunity, especially if it’s taken you some time to get an offer on the table. But it’s far better to stick to your guns and wait for something that’s right for you than to end up in a work situation that makes you miserable.

That being said, it’s likely that being in an interview at all will be uncomfortable for you on some level, so it’s important to use that intuition you have so much of and honestly discern the difference between the temporary discomfort you feel at being interviewed and the more unsettling discomfort of not being treated well.

Don’t feel like that is “just how the working world works” and try to force yourself into the wrong job. Choose yourself, walk away, and find something that fits better.

Ready to land your Dream job?

Conclusion

Being an introvert is a spectrum. You may really love working with people, but need time to recharge, or you may utterly freeze when in new environments and really struggle with any type of social interaction at all.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum, you have an arsenal of strengths that can help you thrive in the workplace, even though it is traditionally set up for more extroverted people.

Your strengths can be a double-edged sword, so it’s important to have good boundaries and not allow yourself to be taken advantage of.

There are many jobs for introverts and career paths that will allow you to be all that you are and have a thriving career too. Prepare for your job interviews with speaking points, practice the answers to questions you can predict will come, and walk into your next interview with confidence.

Nervous About Your Interview?

If you feel that not being good at “selling” yourself has held you back in your career, Big Interview’s comprehensive practice software can help you. Learn how to answer any interview question calmly and with confidence.
Land Your Job

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