Confession time: although my job involves helping people network, promote themselves effectively, and land better jobs, I am an introvert by nature.
How much of an introvert?
When I was starting out, it would take me up to 20 minutes to “psych up” for a simple phone call. I avoided face-to-face meetings at all costs. And each and every action I took was accompanied by enormous amounts of self-doubt.
Sound familiar? Researchers estimate that up to 50% of the population are introverts. And yet many of them, like Bill Gates and Barbara Walters, have gone on to achieve massive career success.
If you’re struggling to “come out of your shell” and start locking down new job opportunities, here are some tips that can help:
Focus On The 4 R’s:
Research jobs and employers thoroughly before submitting your resume and accompanying materials. Have a clear sense of the message you want to send – what are the core elements of the value you’re bringing to the table, and does your resume communicate that? Expert tip: before an interview, look up your contact on LinkedIn and the company website to find nuggets of information that can serve as an ice breaker.
Don’t think of it as an interview (with all the anxiety that accompanies it) but a working meeting. Create a “value presentation” prior to the interview which highlights your fit for the role and how you’ll help accomplish strategic objectives. That way, instead of worrying about answering questions in the “ideal” way you can launch right in and actively demonstrate value.
Some elements you can include within a value presentation:
A list of key job requirements (you can pull this directly from the job posting) and how you match up with them. Additional Areas of Expertise you bring to the position (otherwise known as “differentiators”). Success Stories – Examples of how you added value, major accomplishments, and so on. You can also include some great testimonials here. Personal Success Factors – Personal qualities and strengths that will ensure your success on the job. A 30/60/90 day Strategic Action Plan – Here’s where you outline your goals for “hitting the ground running” and rapidly delivering value to the company.
Celebrate the effort, not the outcome! Challenge yourself to do one networking (call it “socializing” to reduce stress) activity each day that’s outside of your comfort zone. Take a colleague or mentor out for a coffee. Cold call a recruiter in your industry. Reward yourself with a little treat after each action, regardless of how it goes.
Practice is essential for anyone looking to land a better job, but it goes double for introverts. Review and rehearse common interview questions, especially ones that stump people like, “Tell me about yourself?” or “What’s your greatest strength?” (Expert tip: answer in the form of a story that highlights a core quality you wish to communicate). Chunking together similar activities can also control anxiety. For example, if you have a big networking call to make, make two “everyday” calls beforehand to loosen up.
Here Are Some Additional Tips:
Maximize your presence on social media. The more visible you are, the less convincing you’ll have to do to establish credibility with an employer. Start by building a competitive LinkedIn Profile and regularly offering status updates on useful articles, tips, and feedback on industry trends (Expert tip: run an “Advanced Search” for highly visible competitors and model how they present themselves and engage with others). The ultimate goal here is to be perceived as a thought leader in your field.
Remember that social actions (ex. informational interviews, calls) lead to way more results than non-social actions (ex. responding to job postings). In other words, devote the bulk of your energy to social moves instead of consoling yourself with low ROI activities like applying to a certain number of postings per day.
Be sure to schedule “recovery periods” throughout the week. Introverts recharge from alone time.
Play to your strengths. Introverts are generally good listeners and great at “reading” people. Use your talents to forge meaningful relationships and create a bond with others. People work with those they like and those who are similar to themselves.
About the author
Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, LinkedIn expert, and interview coach. Surveyed clients report a 40-60% reduction in placement times through working with him, and typically secure offers at least $10-40K higher. Schedule a free LIVE Resume Critique with Anish, or connect with him on LinkedIn.
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