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What Introverts Can Teach Us About Job Search

Alone TimeIntroverts enjoy, and, some would say, need time alone. They go within to energize their minds and fuel their creativity. They don’t speak just to keep conversations going but will readily contribute when they feel they have something meaningful to say.

Don’t mistake their quietness for shyness, although some may in fact be shy. A sharp interviewer knows that it’s just a matter of asking the right questions to get them talking about what they do and why they’re good at it. Here’s why these traits are a tremendous advantage when looking for work:

They play to their strengths.

Introverts are intellectually persistent. Because of this they invest a significant amount of time honing their craft. They are the ones who love what they do. Take Steve Wosniack for example. He was drawn to computers at an early age. Rarely bored when alone, he spent considerable time thinking about how he could make computers come to life. Once he partnered with another creative thinker, the extrovert Steve Jobs, Apple was born.

Introverts love researching topics that interest them.

They can spend hours finding out what they need to know about a company or a job that interests them. By the time they get interviewed, there isn’t much they haven’t explored. And because of this preparation, they can speak freely and convincingly about how they handled a similar situation and share possible solutions to the hiring manager’s latest challenge.

They seek out mentors.

Not because it’s the first course in Job Search 101 but because they are inspired by people they can learn from. People flock to hear the introvert Warren Buffet speak on investing. He cautions listeners to pay attention to the market’s warning signs and to resist the urges that get other people into trouble. In his own quiet way, he’s teaching people who like listening more than speaking to take note.

Scheduling time to think is part of their prudent thinking process.

Interviewing and networking can make anyone uncomfortable. Introverts however are more likely to build in time to organize their thoughts before going in for an interview or important meeting. They may take a walk at lunch time, stop into a park near the office, or sit alone in the cafeteria. They are reflective by nature and known to take a moment to think before replying to an interviewer’s query. Because of this reflective posture they come across as more prepared, more likely to stay on topic, and more thorough in their answers. These are all strong, impressive and winning behaviors in any interviewer’s mind.

Our culture pays homage to outgoing people and behaviors. Are you surprised to learn that extroverts love the stage and have a flair for the dramatic? Donald Trump, Muhammad Ali, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, even Margaret Thatcher fall under the extrovert banner. They are the socializers at meetings and the first to raise their hands to volunteer for projects.

Introverts are typically more subdued. Some call them quiet when describing them. Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and even Christina Aguilera, who has an extrovert’s persona on stage, seeks solitude to nourish her creativity. Their mannerisms are reserved. They are likely to state things directly and simply, their speech is even and modulated. They come across sincerely and genuinely. These are all winning attributes when looking for work.

Great TED talk on The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain.