Let’s face it; the corporate world is built for extroverts. It favours workers who draw energy from a social atmosphere, naturally take the lead in group environments and are typically more comfortable in the spotlight. But according to the latest data, personality type (introvert/extrovert) is one of the top three forms of diversity that people personally feel are important for the workplace.
So what happens to those introverts who have the same skills and knowledge as their extrovert colleagues, but may struggle to make it known? Here we present three pieces of career advice for introverts to help even the quietest succeed.
When discussing jobs or careers for introverts, it’s clear they possess vital business skills applicable across many roles and industries. Introverts are typically good listeners, they take time to process and reflect on information, and they’re excellent at focusing on the task at hand. So, it’s worth showcasing your particular skills in a way that makes you feel at ease and confident.
For example, if you’re an excel whiz, you could volunteer your help next time someone is struggling with their spreadsheets (one-on-one of course!), or email a list of handy shortcuts for your team. Also, as a highly focussed introvert, ensure you’re communicating your achievements regularly to your manager. Your boss will quickly become aware that it’s your actions, not necessarily your words, which speak volumes about your capabilities.
As people who don’t like being put on the spot and prefer doing their thinking in advance, introverts can appear to contribute less in meetings than their extroverted colleagues. Try asking for the meeting agenda in advance so you can prepare some notes, or talk through your ideas with a colleague or your manager beforehand. By planning to ask some questions and support ideas you agree with in the meeting, you’ll challenge your comfort zone as well as improve engagement with your colleagues – which won’t go unnoticed. You may also consider doing a course to help fill any gaps in technical knowledge which can all provide you with more confidence to speak up in a group setting.
Typically, introverts recharge from quiet time spent alone. This can be difficult when you’re sharing an office with lots of other people and are expected to communicate extensively throughout the day. Therefore it’s important to be able to manage your energy so you can give of yourself when it’s required. Before and after meetings, try a ten-minute walk outside where there are no distractions. You may also consider booking a private meeting room to work in alone from time to time, or working from home. This will allow you to balance your productivity, with more social contributions to your team.
Positive body language goes a long way! Looking people straight in the eyes while you both talk, smiling at people as you pass them by and having a firm handshake at the beginning and end of every client meeting all show that you’re confident and engaged in the interaction.
If you’re an introvert, the key to success at work is being able to showcase your skills. Reflect on your particular strengths, identify opportunities to demonstrate them, and be aware of situations that may require more preparation and energy. As an introvert, you may not love the limelight - but that doesn’t mean you don’t offer a huge amount to the workplace.
Looking for more tips for introverts? Whether you're starting out or moving up, you may like to check out our introvert's guide to networking, or 5 interesting careers for introverts.