An Introvert’s Guide To Job Hunting
Introversion can be advantageous when exploring professional opportunities. Here’s how.
By Amma Marfo
As a speaker and consultant who spends much of her time interacting with large crowds and meeting new people, it surprises many when they find out I’m an introvert. The term has long been associated with unflattering and maligned traits: shyness, awkwardness, indifference. And when you think about job hunting — full of phone calls, conversations, long days in unfamiliar spaces, and new faces — it seems like a situation that automatically puts introverts at a disadvantage.
But here’s the secret: Introversion is by no means a disadvantage in the workplace. Introversion — and extroversion, its temperamental counterpart — have little to do with liking or disliking people. It’s all about where you get your energy from. High-intensity situations feed the soul and energy reserves of extroverts, while it drains them for introverts. Luckily, I have a few tricks to share that will help you present yourself authentically and protect your energy at the same time.
“The term has long been associated with unflattering and maligned traits: shyness, awkwardness, indifference. And when you think about job hunting — full of phone calls, conversations, long days in unfamiliar spaces, and new faces.”
1. Craft thoughtful, deliberate materials.
The introverted brain thrives on the opportunity to dive deep into a topic, spending long stretches of time dedicated to a task. Take advantage of opportunities like writing cover letters or creating portfolios to do just that. Craft thoughtful, deliberate materials that illustrate your skills and abilities. This way, you can shine before you even walk into an interview.
QUICK TIP: Including a story in your cover letter can break you out of the common habit of simply restating your resume. Bring your accomplishments to life. Find a few stories that you’re comfortable talking about where you excelled at work. Challenge yourself to incorporate at least one of these stories into your cover letter.
2. Balance comfort and poise in phone interviews.
Phone interviews are a double-edged sword, no matter who’s participating. They can be easier because they allow for notes and prompts in a way that face-to-face interviews don’t. However, conversational cues can be difficult to read if you can’t see who’s in the room. Capitalize on your “home court advantage” by keeping things in the room that will help you feel comfortable, like a familiar mug for water or tea, a favorite notebook where you can take notes. But don’t get too comfortable; dress for a regular interview. It tricks your mind into acting as you would in a more professional space.
QUICK TIP: If there are multiple people on the call, get each person’s name at the start of the interview. Then, when composing thank you notes, be sure to thank each person individually. These cards present an opportunity to show your engagement in the conversation.
3. Get details in advance.
Surprises or unanticipated shifts present a shock to the introvert’s system, and they can be difficult to recover from. While they can’t be avoided entirely, they can be managed by requesting a schedule of the interview day. I’ll never forget an interview I went to just after college. I expected to meet different groups of people in the company, but discovered I’d be going on a day-long “sales beat” with the team, watching people sell. I wasn’t dressed for the occasion and was wholly thrown by my circumstances. As a result, I was withdrawn and inarticulate. Present your best self by getting as much advance information as possible.
QUICK TIP: Where you can, coordinate your plans for the day to capitalize on “recharge points.” If an interview will start early in the day, wake up half an hour earlier and savor the downtime. If the day will be long, consider finding a way to get there on your own (perhaps via car, rather than public transit) to allow a little more time for yourself, so you walk into the interview energized instead of drained.