October 1, 2010
How to job search if you're a super introvert
Introverts are usually comfortable with one or two people at a time, and are most comfortable with people they already know and trust. The greatest challenge for introverts when searching for a new job is meeting new people, especially at networking events. Most shy away from great networking opportunities because they're overwhelmed, too shy or don't think they can connect with strangers successfully.
Unfortunately, this can hinder their job search. They might rely only on direct applications, which we know from our discussions with hiring managers are successful only about 15 percent of the time.
While it's not a requirement to meet a lot of people during your career transition time, successful interactions with others can shorten that time. If you consider yourself a super introvert, here are some suggestions:
Become the best resume writer. If connecting with others in person is your weakness, you'll need to become the strongest applicant on paper. In today's world, you need to remember that your resume will most likely be scanned by an Applicant Tracking System before it reaches a human being. Understanding how, where and when to use keywords, phrases and acronyms to optimize your resume for these impersonal and automated systems is crucial.
Connect with the best connectors. If you're only going to be comfortable with a few acquaintances, make sure they're the most influential and connected people in your field. Their ability to network for you and connect you to great opportunities will be invaluable.
Get out of your own head. Networking as an introvert is difficult simply because of the internal conversations we're having with ourselves. I remember myself at networking events (and it still happens from time to time), waiting to be approached and finding difficulty in approaching others. We're thinking: "I'm not good enough," "Why would they want to talk to me?" "I don't want to pester others," "It's worthless," "I'm not going to find a job this way, anyway," or any other hundreds of these discouraging phrases we say to ourselves regularly.
If you're trying to decide whether you should attend an event, or when you're actually heading to one, you should examine this self-talk and replace the negative conversation with something positive: "I'm just as good or better," "People will enjoy connecting with me and I can be a resource to them," "In Seattle, 85 percent of jobs are found this way, and I want to increase my odds of finding an opportunity."
Also, make sure to adjust your strategy at these events and make it about the other person. Talking about someone else's interests and passions will help you connect to them more easily and they'll actually be more comfortable around you. This takes time, and you have to be willing to make mistakes, but it's a great learning opportunity.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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