If you want to love your job, you need work that matches your introverted personality traits. Here’s how to find a career for introverts, plus a link to a handy-dandy personality test for introversion.
“I am a severe introvert,” say GG on Best Jobs for Introverts and Quiet People. “Actually, I have severe social anxiety, more than anything. I’m in school to be a special education teacher, but I have been having doubts lately about becoming a teacher. I don’t even think I’ll be able to even do my student teaching because I’m worried I’ll have panic attacks. Right now I work by myself without a boss around, and I like caring for people. I wish there was a job where I can work one on one or by myself without anyone else around, that I could make a decent living on. I don’t have good IT or math skills. How do I find a career to suit my introverted personality traits?”
Another reader with introverted personality traits asked almost the exact same question on the same article. She was a college student who was worried about doing her student teaching – and she was also wondering how to find a career for people who struggle with severe introversion.
The Best Way to Find a Career for Introverts
Keep moving forward, and don’t let your fear stop you from pursuing your career goals! I’m an introvert, and I taught grade 8 for three years. I learned that many teachers don’t like speaking in front of adults or big audiences, but they love teaching. Teaching isn’t the same as making a speech or doing a presentation – it’s about building relationships with students, and helping them learn what they need to know.
My level of introversion was not well suited to a teaching career. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted at the end of every day, and I dreaded Mondays. But some of my fellow teachers were introverts, and they enjoyed teaching. They just needed lots of recuperation and recovery time (a key trait of introversion is that introverts are drained by spending time with people).
1. Give yourself time to adjust, learn, and grow
When you’re pursuing something you want to do – and I assume you’re studying to be a teacher because something is drawing you towards teaching – you’ll be scared.
Give yourself time to practice, to adjust, to grow into your new career. Like anything, it may very well be awkward and uncomfortable the first few days or even weeks of student teaching…but you need to work your way through that. Don’t let it stop you! You will get through it and you will get really good at it. It’ll just take time. And that’s the whole point of being a student. You’re learning how to be a teacher – of course you’ll be scared and feel awkward. But that’s how to find a career, for introverts or extroverts: accept the awkwardness and keep moving forward.
Also, I encourage you to learn how to deal with performance anxiety: How to Get Over Stage Fright – 6 Best Tips for Introverts.
2. Remember that you can always find a new career
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you may get your teaching degree, work as a teacher for a year or two, and then decide teaching isn’t for you. That’s okay! The only way to find out if teaching is the right job is to try it. That is how to find a career, or the right partner, or the right pair of hiking boots…you have to try different ones on until you find the right fit. Get the practical experience, and see how it fits your personality.
After I finished my three year contract as a teacher, I worked as a Mentoring Coordinator with the Big Sisters/Big Brothers organization. I enjoyed that job, but my current work as a blogger – I created the Blossom blog family – is my passion! It took me years to figure this out, and my only route was through trial and error.
3. Volunteer in different types of roles
Volunteering is a much cheaper way to get experience and try different possibilities out, especially if you’re new to the “how to find a career” game. Remember that you’ll be spending 40 hours a week at work, so finding a career that suits your introverted personality is important to your health, happiness, and well-being. That’s why you need to experiment with different places, people, and things.
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You’ll find introverts in all walks of life,” says Shoya Zichy, co-author of Career Match. “However, you’ll find that more of them seek professions such as biologists, engineers, computer programmers, economists, and writers. These occupations require that people spend more time alone rather than working in teams.”
If you’re still in college, read 10 Highest Paying Jobs for College Students.
4. Learn what introversion is
People with introverted personality traits:
- Get energy from “down time”
- Listen more than they speak
- Prefer to speak with one or two people at a time (instead of several people, or a big group)
- Are more detail oriented
- Need more personal space
- Are usually reserved
- Wait to be approached in social situations
- Are reflective and appear calm
- Think before speaking or acting
- Know a lot about a few topics
- Enjoy working alone or with one person
Source: Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead by Nancy Ancowitz.
Author Susan Cain adds: “[Introverts] listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror for small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
The more you know about your introverted traits, the more settled you’ll be with your own characteristics and life. And this will help you learn how to find a career that suits your personality.
5. Figure out how introverted you are
Most people have both introverted and extroverted personality traits. And, most people tend to be a little more one than the others…which is why taking a test for introverted personality traits is helpful. For instance, if you’re highly introverted, then you might want to focus on a job or career that allows you to be alone most of the time, focus on details, and avoid groups or energetic social situations. If you’re only moderately or just slightly introverted, then a more social job might work well.
In The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World, Marti Olsen Laney describes the human brain. She says that the brain’s neurotransmitters follow different dominant paths in the nervous systems of introverts and extroverts. Introverts are oversensitive to dopamine, and too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them.
Extroverts, on the other hand, can’t get enough dopamine. They need the adrenaline they get from being in crowds and the center of attention in groups of people. Laney also says people with extroverted personality traits have a shorter pathway and less bloodflow to the brain. Further, the messages of an extrovert’s nervous system mostly bypass the Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which is where a large portion of contemplation takes place.
6. Get comfortable with your personality
Many shy, quiet people think they’re socially inept, weird, or antisocial! Introverts don’t always realize that they’re simply drained by groups of people and that they process their thoughts differently than extroverts.
I can’t tell you how many comments I get from readers who are grateful to learn about introversion. They didn’t realize how normal they were, and why they’re struggling to learn how to find a career that fits their introverted personality traits. Accept yourself, surrender to who you are. The more you know about introversion – and the more comfortable you are with yourself – the easier it’ll be to settle into a career (and a life) you like!
7. Be persistent about finding a career that suits your personality
Don’t give up.
I know it takes time and a lot of awkwardness when you’re searching for a career that fits your level of introversion. Work in different organizations, accept jobs in different roles in the same company, and talk to other introverts. Stay aware of who you are and what suits your personality and lifestyle. Remember that introversion is simply a way of being in this world, and there is nobody else like you. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a job or company that doesn’t suite your introverted personality type.
Sometimes introverts allow themselves to get discouraged during their initial job search. Instead of learning different tips for how to find a career, they and gave up too quickly. Or, they let a family member or friend railroad them into the wrong type of work. Maybe their supervisor or sheer luck kept giving them job promotions, or they couldn’t afford to quit and look for different work.
Whatever the reason, it’s smarter to stay focused on finding the best career that matches your personality traits – no matter how long it takes – than to give up before achieving your professional goals.
8. Research specific companies and occupations
Remember that not all “jobs for introverts” actually mean that you’ll be working alone. For instance, writing is typically thought of as a good job for people with a high level of introversion. It’s true that many writing jobs allow for independence, a quiet work space, and attention to detail…but it depends on where you work.
For example, if you’re a reporter for a big city daily newspaper, you’re not likely to have your own office and lots of quiet time (at least not at the beginning of your writing career!). If you’re a freelance writer, you’ll have to network with other writers, pitch article ideas to editors, and sell yourself on social media. So, learning how to find a career for your introverted personality isn’t just about deciding that writing is a good job for you. You need to take it a step further, and research the actual company you’re thinking of working for, the work or office environment you’ll be in, and the specific job you’ll be doing.
“I hope that you’re doing what you love for a living,” writes Nancy Ancowitz in Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead. “If not, I encourage you to take steps in that direction – or at least find a way to include activities that you enjoy during your personal time.”
Listen to the still small voice inside of you. Keep going in the direction of your dreams until you know it’s time to take a different route. But don’t let fear stop you from taking chances in life!
Resources for Introverts
In Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type, authors Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron, and Kelly Tieger lead readers step-by-step through the process of determining and verifying different personality types, ranging from introversion to extroversion.
This book identifies occupations and careers that are popular with each personality type, provides helpful case studies, and offers a rundown of each type’s work-related strengths and weaknesses.
Job Ideas for Introverts
Here’s a list of the 10 Best Jobs for Introverts from the job search site CareerCast.com. Every job offers independence, strong projected career growth, and decent pay. If you’re an introverted job seekers, you may find an idea or two here…
- Animal Care and Service Workers
Annual median salary: $19,970 (caretakers)/$25,270 (trainers)
Projected growth by 2020: 15%
Annual median salary: $47,340
Projected growth by 2020: 11%
Annual median salary: $96,460
Projected growth by 2020: 10%
- Court Reporter
Annual median salary: $48,160
Projected growth by 2020: 10%
- Film/Video Editor
Annual median salary: $51,300
Projected growth by 2020: 3%
- Financial Clerk
Annual median salary: $36,850
Projected growth by 2020: 11%
Annual median salary: $90,890
Projected growth by 2020: 16%
- Industrial Machine Repairer
Annual median salary: $46,920
Projected growth by 2020: 17%
- Medical Records Technician
Annual median salary: $34,160
Projected growth by 2020: 22%
- Social Media Manager
Annual median salary: $54,170
Projected growth by 2020: 12%
“You wouldn’t think that a job with ‘social’ right in the name is suited to introverts, but it’s a great fit,” said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast. “While in-person interaction may not be an introvert’s cup of tea, technological outlets allow an introvert to maintain person-to-person communication electronically without the stresses of actual conversation.”
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Introverts, how will you find a career? I welcome your thoughts and questions below. I can’t give job search advice (or any type of advice at all, for I’m a mere scribe). But I’d love to hear from you! Comments welcome below…