Search Tips for the Shy or Introverted! | Articles & Tips | WNYJobs.com | Buffalo

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 Search Tips for the Shy or Introverted!

By Joe Stein

One of the most nerve-wreaking tasks that anyone can go through is a job search. Being placed in a position where you have to speak about yourself for a length of time along with being evaluated on what you say, is enough to make anyone’s palms sweat. Imagine how much more challenging the task is if you are one of the estimated 40+% of the population that is introverted or shy. It may cause you to think that the deck, during a job search, is stacked in favor of those who are extroverts.
 
Let’s take a moment early on to note that I will use the terms introverted and shy fairly interchangeably, but there is some difference in the two terms. Shy people have a fear of social encounters, such as an interview or networking event. Introverts prefer not to engage in these types of activities (they like and need their “quiet time”), but do not necessarily fear them. Both types of individuals, however, are challenged when in a job search, especially when it is time to network and interview.
 
If you find yourself in this situation, you might think that there is no hope. You might be saying to yourself, “If only I could do the job and show them how good I am”. All is not lost, however, if you are someone naturally quiet and reserved, because you do have a number of strengths that will assist you in your job search. 
 
So, lets look at some things that you can do (without completely changing who you are) that will assist you in your job search.
 
 
·         Job Fair/Networking Preparation:  
It will help you if you research (in advance) the companies and (if possible) the Recruiters that will be at the event you are going to attend. Target the Recruiters of interest to you. Come armed with information about each company, the open positions, and the industries they are in. This information will allow you to prepare your introduction and your “small talk”, rather than thinking of it in the moment. Prepare the template for a 30-second introduction in which you can simply insert information about that specific company, in order to give it a personal touch. This research and preparation may provide you a competitive advantage, as an extrovert is more likely to “wing it” and not come prepared with the detail that you possess.
 
Change your perception of networking from “asking/begging for help” to “seeking advice or an opinion”. This change may help you take some of the edge off your nerves. Try to focus your networking on individual or small group conversations, rather than a larger more stressful environment. Partner with someone at an event who can assist you by introducing you to those you want to meet. Create a prop, such as a Business Card, that you can hand to a person to help break the ice. Finally, consider joining an organization for networking purposes (industry, professional, geographical), where you have a common interest and are more likely to feel comfortable.
 
·         Interview Practice:
 The more you have to speak “off-the-cuff”, the greater your opportunity to fall back inside your shell. Prepare, in advance, for the most frequently asked interview questions. On our website, www.wnyjobs.com , in the article archive is some of the questions most likely to be asked and some suggestions for how to respond. Your preparation should allow you to appear more natural, allow you to feel more confident, and limit the times you need to “think on your feet”.
 
This will also help your pacing when responding to interview questions. Introverts often like/need time to think and reflect before answering. The interpretation of this reflection time by the Interviewer is generally determined by the quality of the answer that follows. Provide a great response and you are a deep thinker, but on the other hand, answer poorly and your nerves got to you.
 
A suggestion is to bring a pen and a portfolio/pad of paper with you to any event or interview. You can discreetly write on the pad notes (both prior and during the discussion) that will prompt you if you get stuck or uncomfortable. Your audience will just think you are taking down information of interest that was provided to you.
 
·         Exploit Your Listening Strength: If you are shy or introverted, you most likely have strong listening skills. These skills have been developed, over the years, listening to others who speak much more often than you do. In fact, people who are excellent listeners tend to have very underrated conversational skills. Your listening skills can assist you during the interview, as you probe the Hiring Manager for clues regarding what is important to him/her and what the job really entails. This can naturally lead to asking really great questions that will grab the attention of the Hiring Manager.
 
·         Be Concious of Body Language – As someone who is shy or introverted, you may display non-positive body language at times. Make a conscious effort to make eye contact when in a conversation, and don’t forget to smile during “small talk”.
 
·         Give Yourself Downtime : Being out and socializing at a job fair or in an interview probably feels unnatural, and requires quite a bit of your energy. Give yourself some “you time” to recover and recharge during the course of your job search. If you want to keep your job search momentum going and not totally disengage, use this “downtime” to search for positions online, perform in-depth company research, update your records, or work on your Cover Letter or Resume.
 
·         Use the Internet to Your Advantage – The Internet is not a total substitute for in-person networking, but modern technology does provide the introvert with an opportunity to network, which was not there before. Sites such as Linked-In and Facebook (have you become a WNYJOBS.com fan yet? Click or paste link into your browser: http://www.facebook.com/pages/wnyjobscom/145056952658 ) provide a job seeker with the opportunity to stay connected with many people in their network without the exhaustive requirement of phone calls and in-person meetings.
 
There is no magical cure for your shyness or introversion that will naturally make you comfortable in your job search. Rather, I suggest you accept/embrace who you are and use your tendencies and personality to your advantage by exploiting what you do well and minimizing the impact of what you are challenged with. 
 
As always, the best of luck in your job search.