If you consider yourself shy, or introverted, what can you do to help yourself land the job you want?
This is a comment I received recently:
“Reaching out for extroverts is easy…for us people who are socially awkward, it can be so painful to just say hello to someone. It’s worsened by the fact that I dread small talk more than anything else out there…”
If you are shy, or introverted, hear this message: you are not alone. I understand what you mean because I feel the same way you do.
Working as a recruiter, and now in my own business, I can tell you that a lot of people are uncomfortable reaching out to others, and many people dislike small talk. That said—outreach and social connection are an essential part of your job search. So what can you do?
Introverts and extroverts—they are everywhere
Personalities of all kinds populate the workplace. Outgoing and more private personalities reach for different jobs, opportunities, and responsibilities. Depending on what statistics you read, about one of every three people is likely to identify themselves as an introvert.
One traditional differentiator for introverts and extroverts is how they naturally seek to recharge themselves. Do you gain energy by working a crowd and talking to people? Or do you naturally step back from crowds, listen and think before you speak, and refresh yourself with alone time? Another tendency is sensitivity to stimulation—are you exhausted by small talk in a relatively short time?
Long-held myths about introversion and extroversion sometimes color how people think of others and themselves. Consider these myths about introverts and extroverts:
• All introverts are shy
• All extroverts are outgoing
• Introverts do not make good leaders
• Extroverts are generally good public speakers
• Introverts are introspective
• Extroverts are not introspective
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you may not be comfortable starting conversations, or reaching out in a way that would further your goals—or your job search.
Getting what you want just the way you are
Being comfortable building and presenting your personal and professional brand is an essential aspect of a successful job search. For some, this could mean gaining skills to help along the way. For others, it means becoming confident with the person you are right now.
For everyone, language is a vital part of communication. How your resume and cover letter are written, what you say in an interview and how you say it, and the way you follow through create the impression of who you are and how you might perform in the workplace. Part of my job as an executive resume writer is helping you use the language you need to get your brand across.
For anyone interested in functioning more smoothly in social and professional encounters, consider these top tips:
1. Know your pitch:
Before an interview, or networking engagement, think of your own “elevator pitch.” More than just a statement of your name and interests, understand what you have to offer, and what you might bring to a conversation.
2. Queue some topics:
A successful tactic for breaking the ice is knowing two or three questions that help you get a conversation started. A good resource for managing small talk is Debra Fine’s book, The Fine Art of Small Talk.
3. Know where to go:
At an event, workshop, or party, keep in mind there are others present who are less—and more comfortable—than you are. I sometimes try to find someone in a room who looks uncomfortable, and focus on setting them (and me) at ease. I walk up and introduce myself. I might ask what brings them to the event. Both of us gain an association. Alternatively, identify people energetically engaged in meeting and connecting with others. They often welcome your introduction and are happy to help you meet others.
Making and cultivating social media and other contacts is important in a job search. You might find it difficult to cold call, or email, a connection and ask about a particular job. Instead of asking about a potential position, ask for helpful advice and feedback on your search.Informational interviews are a great way to less formally connect with people, and professionals, who might aid your job search.
5. Do your part:
When you are in a position to help others, reach out and do your best. For introverts, reciprocity is a great way to build a relationship—and your confidence.
You do not need to “conquer” or “overcome” being shy. Introvert or extrovert, thoughtful, or verbal—know your natural inclinations. Use your awareness—and the right tools and tactics—to make the most of your talents during your employment search.
Written by Lisa Rangel, Executive Resume Writer