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Overcome Shyness During Your Job Hunt

Overcome Shyness During Your Job Hunt

Social skills can be taught, according to Brooks

Dr. Katharine Brooks | Career Transitions

June 28, 2010

A particularly valuable aspect of extroverts is that they tend to “think out loud.” If you go to a museum with an extravert, for example, s/he will likely talk all the time. “Look at this- isn’t this interesting?” they will say. An introvert, on the other hand, may go quietly through the museum saying little— often causing their extraverted companion to think that the introvert isn’t having a good time. On the contrary, they are absorbing the external stimulus and don’t necessarily need the additional verbal discussions— in fact, talking likely distracts them from their focus on the museum.

Why is this important? In a job interview it is up to you to convey information to the employer. You need to “think out loud”— that is, you need to tell the employer what they want and need to hear. Reticence, one-word answers, long pauses and silence will likely hurt your chances. Employers want to hear and see enthusiasm, and that can be hard for an introvert to convey.

So does it seem like the job search might be stacked against the introvert? It doesn’t have to be.

Here’s a secret: social skills can be taught. They may never feel 100% natural to the introvert, but they can be taught and executed successfully. You can learn better responses to interview questions, you can practice networking, and you can put on a front as needed. In fact, many introverts have already learned to do this in a variety of social settings. I liken it to left-handed people (another minority) who have learned to use objects with their right hands even if it’s not their preference.

For some creative introverts it helps to think of the job interview as an acting job, or to quote Adler, just “act as if.” Introverts are often astute observers of human behavior, so knowing how to “play the game” can help. This does not mean that you go overboard and become something you are not— but we all have elements of extraversion in our personality and the job search is the time to bring them out.

Just keep in mind that using your less-preferred extrovert skills will likely drain your energy— so find ways to replenish yourself.

In the next post, I will include tips for handling the interview and networking aspects of the job search, but for now, start by analyzing your situation. What traits of introversion fit you?

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