When it comes to looking for a new job, every individual has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. But have you ever considered the extent that your personality type plays into those challenges? In our poll of 104 participants, 86% said they felt that the job search process was harder for introverts than extroverts.
Before we dive in, let’s do a quick recap on what an introvert is:
An introvert is defined as, “a person who prefers calm environments, limits social engagement, or embraces a greater than average preference for solitude.” By contrast, an extrovert is defined as, “an outgoing person who thrives in dynamic environments and seeks to maximize social engagement.”
It’s important to note that being introverted is not necessarily synonymous with being shy, timid, or unfriendly. Introversion simply describes the nature in which people do or don’t feel energized. Many introverts can enjoy select social interactions, however, they tend to need sufficient alone time to recharge.
Common struggles for introverts in the job search
Many introverts are more reflective instead of reflexive in their lives. This means that when it comes to the job search, they tend to find the written elements more appealing than the verbal aspects.
Writing a resume or cover letter, filling out a LinkedIn profile, and written application questions all provide the opportunity for applicants to take time to think and carefully consider responses privately before submitting. Many introverts also note research as a strength in the job hunt. They find that searching for the right jobs and companies, and learning about the individuals who will be interviewing them can give them an advantage.
By contrast, networking events, phone, video, and in-person interviews are centered entirely around verbal and/or physical communications. They are often fast-paced in nature, meaning introverts are under more pressure to speak and act quickly, creating a more stressful and demanding environment. For the thoughtful introvert, settings like these can sometimes make those internal dialogues spiral out of control, putting them in a less advantageous position.
In our poll, we asked self-identifying introverts to select the part of the job process that was the most difficult for them. Based on those answers we identified the four most common struggles for introverts when looking for a new job. Read on to learn about each challenge and get expert advice to make the process smoother.
Problem #1: sharing achievements on resumes and cover letters
In our poll, 19.5% of participants noted sharing achievements on a resume or cover letter as the most challenging part of the job hunt. When asked for further details, many introverts mentioned that they felt a resistance to sharing because they worried about being labeled as “bragadocious” or “prideful”.
Others felt like their skillset would be implied in their job titles and didn’t want to come across as “pushy” by listing out specific wins.
Resume and cover letter tips for introverts
If you struggle with minimizing your successes on your resume or cover letter, try these tips to help.
Remember the purpose
“Remember why you’re doing it: Nothing too fancy schmancy, but remembering the big goal at the end, helps. Thinking about what would happen after writing the CV, having had the interview etc. That really helps me.”
– May King Tsang, content creator and founder of FOMO Creator
Reframe your definition of “bragging”
If the fear of coming across as “braggy” is holding you back from listing your successes on a resume, it’s time to reframe those thoughts. The idea of “selling yourself” might feel icky, but what if you viewed it as “sharing yourself” instead? After all, the person reviewing your materials is a total stranger, there is no way for them to understand your qualifications and abilities unless you share it with them.
Get your resume and cover letter reviewed
Sometimes all it takes is another set of eyes to help us identify what’s missing in our resumes and cover letters. Ask a colleague or mentor who knows you well to review your materials and give honest feedback and suggestions to make sure you don’t sell yourself short. Then, you can scan your resume with Jobscan to make sure it’s optimized and ready to submit.
Problem #2: navigating the interview process
Interviews proved to be voted the most difficult part of the job search for introverts by a landslide. In our poll, 41.3% of participants listed in person interviews and 21.7% of participants chose phone or video interviews as the most challenging part of the job hunt.
Many introverts struggling with feeling a pressure to “perform”, act out of character to be more outgoing, or prove that they fit the company’s social culture.
Ashlee Sappingfield described this experience on a Linkedin post, “I’m not upbeat in an interview because I’m not naturally a super outgoing or enthusiastic person. I’m very laid back and chill. So if I feel pressured to be “on” it drains me.”
The fact that the attention is solely placed on the introvert to talk about themselves can also become a source of anxiety. Fears of coming across as “braggy”, or being judged for taking extra time to think before responding can often add to an introvert’s discomfort in an interview setting.
Interview tips for introverts
The key to thriving in an interview as an introvert is to lean into your strengths instead of succumbing to the pressure of trying to be “more extroverted”. Here are a few strategies from experts to try in your next job interview:
Treat the interview like a negotiation
“The best technique I’ve seen for an introvert to be authentic to who they are and leverage their strengths is to treat the interview like a negotiation. The theory of this interview technique is basically: “S/He who talks most loses.” That’s right, instead of talking about how wonderful you are for an hour, you follow every question with one of your own. Done right, you talk less than the interviewer. I’ve seen this played out at a conference and it was the best mock interview I’ve ever seen.”
– Dave Byrnes, a speaker and trainer helping introverts thrive in the workplace
Take a pause instead of rushing to answer
”When it comes to interviewing, the thing that seems to help introverts the most giving themselves permission to think about the question for a moment and breathe before answering.”
– Rachel Beohm, an executive communication and leadership coach
Leverage your listening skills
Lean into your strengths of analysis, processing, and intuition to really listen to what the interviewer is giving you and assess how you can best respond. Most introverts have done their research prior to an interview – don’t be afraid to use what you’ve learned to ask smart questions about the organization. This will not only take the spotlight off you and provide you with more information about the job, but will set you apart in the mind of a potential employer.
Problem #3: networking
There are a few activities that most introverts would agree are among their least favorite things: small talk, answering questions about themselves, and being in a small room surrounded by strangers who have the expectation of making that small talk with you. This is given the title of: networking.
Program management specialist, Michael Kurilla said on a LinkedIn post, “As an introvert, I loathe networking. I’d rather have an ice pick jammed into my ear than network. I try to network, but it’s just uncomfortable for me.”
The quick and shallow nature of networking is often the opposite of what many introverts are looking for. Deeper, and more engaging conversations with fewer people tend to be more appealing to an introverted type.
Networking tips for introverts
It can be easy for introverted people to have a knee-jerk negative reaction to the idea of networking based on past experiences, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it at all costs. One of the best ways for introverts to find success when networking is to give yourself permission to write your own rules of engagement. The following three tips on networking for introverts are from career coach and LinkedIn trainer, Bob McIntosh.
Aim for smaller groups to start
“The ideal networking setting for Introverts is one where five to six people are involved. This allows them to talk at greater length with one or two of them. Groups like these are referred to as Buddy Groups or Meet Ups. Meetup.com is a popular website for any activity. Ergo, it can also be ideal for networking.”
Set realistic goals for yourself
“I never discourage my introverted clients from attending large job-seeker networking groups. I tell them to set goals for themselves. For instance, talking with two or three people is an acceptable goal if the conversations are rewarding. It’s not how many people you talk with who wins; it’s the quality of the conversations one has who wins.”
Take time to identify your networking style and strengths
“People on both sides of the introversion/extraversion spectrum have the ability to network. They just network differently. Once they understand the networking style that suits them best, they will be successful in this very important job-search tool.”
Problem #4: follow-up emails or calls
You just had a great job interview, and now it’s time to send a follow-up email to say thank you and provide an easy gateway to encourage next steps. Simple right? For many introverts it can actually be quite the challenge.
In fact, 17.3% of participants in our poll listed follow up emails after an interview as the most challenging part of the job hunt. Many said that they worried about coming across as being pushy or needy, even when sending a simple, “thank you for your time,” message. Others said that the internal debate over what to say and how to say it often paralyzed them into inaction.
Email tips for introverts
Resist the urge to overthink this step in the job application process and focus on the human connection that was forged in your interviews. Remember, you have the time to carefully craft this message, but it’s unlikely that it will make or break your chances of being hired. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Keep it simple
A follow-up email doesn’t have to be as complex as a cover letter 2.0. Keep things simple, pleasant, and straightforward. Thank the interviewer for their time, give them a compliment about something you enjoyed during your conversation, and provide any additional relevant materials requested or dates for future availability. Then you can sign-off and hit send.
Reframe the intention of your message
Similarly to sharing about your achievements, often times the fear of bothering someone can prevent us from unlocking our greatest opportunities. Instead of leading with that fear, reframe this step as simply giving the hiring manager a kind compliment and opportunity to make their job easier by providing additional relevant information or options for a next call.
30 of the best jobs for introverts
Wondering what the best job for an introvert might be? While individual situations can always vary, many agree that introverts thrive in environments allowing for a higher-than-average amount of individual work (rather than constant team work). Positions centered around one-on-one interactions rather than consistent large-group activities, and with breaks in between to recharge, are also more highly desired amongst introverts.
While there are many jobs where introverts can thrive, here are 30 of the best jobs for introverts:
- Content Manager
- Technical Writer
- Scientist / Researcher
- Physical Therapist
- Interior Designer
- Software Developer or Computer Programmer
- Social Worker
- Yoga Instructor
- Forensic Scientist
- Graphic Designer
- Zoologist / Animal Trainer
- Human Resource Manager
- Financial Planner
- Airline Pilot
- Systems or Security Analyst
The worst jobs for introverts
On the flip side, there are some jobs that are likely to make an introvert miserable. Jobs that demand a higher-than-average amount of social interaction or reliance on group efforts can be particularly draining for introverts. It’s often ideal to avoid jobs with an excess of meetings and frequent phonecalls, networking events, or those that are oriented around verbal communications.
While there are likely many jobs that introverts will tend to avoid, these are 16 of the worst jobs for introverts:
- Public Relations
- Event Planner
- Customer Service
- Flight Attendant
- Business Administrator
- School Counselors
- Speech Pathologist
- Real Estate Agent
- Tour Guide
- Cruise Ship Director
The best job for introverts based on Myers-Briggs personality types
While there are many similarities amongst introverts, they’re not all necessarily well-suited for the same jobs. As with all people, we are made up of many layers of genetics, culture, experiences, and nurturing that define and shape our personality and preferences.
These days, there are psychological “personality tests” that help us categorize and analyze people to (hopefully) help us make wiser decisions for our lives. One of the most notable personality tests is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, a test of 100 questions that assigns participants one of 16 possible results.
Details about a type’s personality, desires and needs, relationships, career, and other information is included in the results. The Myers-Briggs website acknowledges that there are always exceptions, however, they’ve compiled the following observations on the best jobs for introverts based on their extensive research and consulting.
INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging)
The INTJ introvert is strategy-oriented and an expert at solving problems. A few common jobs they like are architect, scientist, researcher, project managers, systems engineers, marketing strategists, systems analysts, and military strategists.
INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving)
This type of introvert might be described as curious and eccentric. They’re driven to learn and explore, making them particularly happy in roles as mathematicians, analysts, researchers, engineering, technology, and scientists.
INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging)
If you identify as an INFJ, you might be most comfortable in a job as a teacher, social worker, yoga instructor, photographer, genealogist, artist, or designer.
INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving)
Many introverts desire their work to feel like a calling, not just a job. This urge is often especially strong for INFP’s which makes them likely to pursue a career in writing, working for a nonprofit organization, veterinarian, librarian, nursing, or physical therapy.
ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging)
An ISTJ introvert is often looking for a sense of dependability which can often be found in government or political jobs like military officers, lawyers, judges, or police officers. But it might also appear in more office-related jobs such as accountants, auditors, data analysts, financial managers, or business administrators.
ISTP (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving)
These introverts are often described as problem-solvers with an unbreakable focus and emphasis on practicality. People with these tendencies tend to thrive as mechanics, engineers, graphic designers, financial planners, airline pilots, systems or security analysts, or forensic scientists.
ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging)
If you identify as an ISFJ personality, you might be led to service-oriented jobs. Consider forging a career as a human resource manager, counselor, technical support, interior designer, or pharmacist.
ISFP (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving)
It’s said that this personality type’s greatest need is creative freedom. Many ISFP’s tend to thrive in artistic roles as designers, stylists, fine artists, musicians, florists, jewelers, and photographers.