Finding a job surely isn’t easy for anyone. Tailoring cover letters and CVs, coming up with references, phone interviews, live interviews, personality tests…the list goes on and on. It can be even more challenging for an introvert. Besides figuring out what you actually want to do, you need to present yourself in the best possible light and sell your skills, while seeming like the nicest person on the planet. This can be tricky – especially since you’re also supposed to “act natural” and be yourself.
What can you do, if just taking a phone call from an unknown number already freaks you out or you have to show your best side in a small meeting room while being questioned by four people? How should you answer the dreaded”teamwork-question or approach a desk in the middle of an open office?
Read my advice on facing certain factors, when applying for and finding a new job. Spoiler: It’s a lot easier if you know these small tricks.
Face the Facts
Read the job description. Make sure you understand what amount of engagement and teamwork the job you’re applying for actually requires. “Teamplayer” is a term that gets thrown around like popcorn in a cinema. In most cases, it just means “don’t be an asshole“. Only a small percentage of jobs highlighting team working ability, require you to constantly hang out in a crowd.
The description will usually also give you information about who you’ll be reporting to and the size of the team. At the same time you’ll find details about what you’ll be doing. Make sure you understand the tasks and are up for it.
The Office Space
Even before going to a physical interview, google can help you figure out your potential future work environment. One big office space with 50 desks, small niches, your own office – research the company’s office and be prepared to openly ask about the office organization during the interview. If an open-plan office isn’t for you, you may want to a) find another job or b) be open about it to your potential bosses and find a solution.
Speaking of being open towards your (potential) employer: most employers today have realized that people are different and that fundamental personality attributes like extroversion and introversion have a huge influence on work life. They may offer you a few days of home office, a desk in a quiet corner or other options to make you feel more comfortable at work. Don’t be afraid to ask. People thrive in different environments. If being alone helps you produce better results, your boss should be the last person to decline.
Most introverts are great teamplayers, they just prefer working alone. When asked about references for working in a team, make sure you have some good examples. Don’t be afraid to communicate that you like working independently even more. As mentioned above, what most employers are really looking for, is a nice person. Teamwork is about being able to adjust to different roles, so demonstrating your flexibility at this point can be beneficial. Make sure you come across as friendly and open-minded and don’t get stuck-up on the actual group working.
Being a Shy Introvert
What if I’m also shy? If you get nervous speaking in front of people, but the job requires occasional presentations, communicate that you are working on becoming a better speaker. If you become quiet in interview situations, practice common questions at home. Taking the coffee offered to you in the beginning of an interview can help you feel more relaxed. Another trick is to try to decrease the amount of unknown things. Look up the people you’ll be interviewed by on LinkedIn and get familiar with their faces and background (this proves helpful in general).
Being an Extroverted Introvert
Extroverted introverts usually struggle once they start their new job instead of during the interview process. The beauty (or horror) of being introverted, yet seeming extroverted is, that people simply get a wrong first impression of you. Colleagues may be confused if you become grumpy when being around people all day or sneak off to quiet corners a lot. They expect an attention loving entertainer. I myself am a classic case of extroverted introvert. I love talking and have no problem with speaking my mind, yet being among people for hours literally drains me. After being quiet in most of my past jobs, I’ve started to openly talk about needing more alone time, space and independence at my current job. The response was positive. It’s hard at first, but people do get you after a while. Explaining helps.
A Word on Personality Tests
Yes, they make us feel like teenagers on BuzzFeed. Yes, they seem silly. And yes, you should always aim to be honest about your skills and character anyway. Personality tests are common practice today. Employers mainly use them to check-up on certain characteristics and how you fit their “culture”. Most tests also focus on telling apart introverts from extroverts. This means that if one personality type is better fit for a specific position, it reduces the risk of hiring the wrong person. It also means you may actually be the lucky one, if you don’t get the job. Try to see the benefits when taking your next test.
This little piece of advice of course doesn’t touch upon all aspects of finding or starting a new job. I hope it helps you see some things a bit more positive and gets you more relaxed. Read some of my other posts on being introverted.