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Philip Piletic

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Smart but silent – Making a career as an introvert



Being an introverted person can produce challenges that the rest of society can't relate to. And most likely that is why introverts, who are actually most often than not quite intelligent, find it difficult to enter the job market, are bullied at work or are passed up on big promotions.

I am not an introvert, but I am trained to deal with all kinds of personalities, and I know and understand quite well how challenging a normal life can be for those who suffer from an introverted personality. But I don't use the word "suffer" as a negative connotation against you or any other introverted person. Being introverted causes you to suffer from other individuals' misunderstanding.

Set Your Feelings Aside for the Better Good

This article is primarily aimed at those who are introverted and are finding it difficult to enter the job market or keep a job once you get one. Just because you have an issue keeping a job or finding one doesn’t mean you’re not qualified - maybe you are actually more qualified than any.

Here's the thing that people don't understand about you: The term "introvert" has for too long been associated with maligned and unflattering personality traits. Many serial killer movies (and shows like Dexter) portray introverts as shy, socially awkward, indifferent, and unable to communicate well. If they're faced with long days around people, are forced to talk on the phone too long, or meet too many new faces, watch out for the mental meltdown. So, to the untrained eye, this seems like introverts doom. How I see it is that introverts and extroverts simply get into their creative zones in different fashions. Extroverts, much like myself, get our energy from stressful, fast paced, and even sometimes dangerous situations (though, I stay away from danger). Introverts, on the other hand, get energy from enjoying solitude - entering into their own worlds and finding their zen.

For me, as an extrovert, I find too much solitude puts me into a bad mood - I totally lose my focus. Below you will find some methods that are taught in psychology to assist you in entering and staying in the job market, whatever your chosen career is.

Use Your Creative Side to Create Great Cover Letters

Since introverts have a have a hard time expressing themselves to strangers, especially being under further stress of an interview, use your intelligence and creativity to wow your potential boss with a well-written cover letter.
Instead of simply restating what you did on your resume, try to spice it up with a story of who you are, what you have done, and how you got to where you are today. Nevertheless, don't get carried away. This type of thing takes finesse. A tip from “Your tone should be confident without being arrogant. Avoid attempts to be ‘cute’ or ‘catchy’ in your opening. Gimmicky attempts to gain attention can appear insincere. It is best to keep your letter polished and professional as well as interesting and visually appealing. Mention only positive things and be formal, yet friendly and open."

So, you’re probably wondering how that fits with my advice. Well, it actually does, they just worded it differently than me. In order to sell yourself, you don’t have to open your cover letter with a story about how your great grandfather once sat you on his lap and told you the secrets of the universe. That would be kind of gimmicky.

Develop True Poise and Confidence in Interviews

This is something that I actually suffered from at one time in my younger life. I read many tips on how to talk to people with confidence, whether it was face-to-face or on the phone. But if the situation (whatever it was at the time) had me on guard, it definitely showed in my voice and speech patterns. It got to a point where I would see my colleagues employing amazing skill in communication in what seemed like very stressful situations.

But the interesting thing is, after I grew older and had been through plenty of experiences, I found that facing “tough” social or business related encounters no longer bothered me that much. Now I am able to stand in front of an audience or negotiate through very serious deals without a drop of sweat from nervousness. People who are older are usually less keen to care what others think in the first place. Maybe that comes with the experience that age brings. So, no matter your age, you need to view people differently in order to gain control over your emotions.

Remember this: That person interviewing you actually, at one point in time or another, was sitting in that same exact chair in an interview with some other person that is long gone or has since moved up the corporate ladder. Being that he or she has done many interviews over the course at ABC Inc., pretty sure they have seen the best and the worst.
Just take a deep breath, relax, and talk to him or her just like you would somebody you met at a coffee shop you didn't know. Don't get too personal. Don't talk too much. Keep it at the social norm. But most importantly, keep it upfront and honest. You should do fine.

The Giant Elephant in the Room

Want to know something? I absolutely hate writing resumes. I think they are a waste of time, and yes, I mostly feel that way because I hate doing them. You know police officers hate writing reports, and for me, that resume was just as tedious. I opened that way because I’m sure most introverted folks feel that way, unlike their extroverted friends who might actually enjoy grabbing the opportunity to talk about themselves. If you’re unsure how to properly present yourself in the best light, you can always write down the dry facts yourself (education, past work experience, etc) and then ask your friends to describe you, as if they’re describing someone you never met. They might point out some of your virtues that you weren't even aware of.

Resumes are tricky little devils. Too much information turns potential employers off - yet, too little information might get your resume tossed into the can. Striking the right balance is the key, so don’t rush through this step, and always ask for an opinion of others who successfully passed the interviews. Alternatively, there’s a little shortcut too: you can always hire the professionals to do it for you. There’s a number of agencies that specialize in resume writing (ResumeYard, for example) who can help you with that. And, don’t worry, don’t feel like you’re cheating or anything. You’re there to win, so you need every tool at your disposal.

Basically, it all boils down to confidence. It wins girls, gets you out of tough situations, and when used properly, lands you with a great job or much deserved promotion. It is also something that can be learned and constructed. If there's something introverts are good at, it's analyzing things, and confidence is something that can be improved, step by step. So never stop improving!

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Philip Piletic

Blogger, writer and editor

Read more from Philip Piletic

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