If you subscribe to the “dictionary definition” of being an introvert, introversion means you are someone who is in “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.” While this is a fascinatingly reductionist and satisfyingly simple way of looking at being an introvert, those of us who claim the word on a regular basis know a truer definition is something that feels a bit more complex. This is no more true than when searching for a job that is ideal for introverts.
My education and career background primarily focus on psychology and social work, but I have spent the last two years specializing in supported employment services. I work side-by-side with individuals who have struggled to maintain work whether due to a mental health diagnosis, disability, or another impairment. We spend a month working together to develop a detailed and in-depth career profile that is followed by a job search plan. It is then my duty to network throughout the community to come up with creative solutions to their employment and support needs until they are stabilized in an appropriate and fulfilling position.
Obviously, this process is years, not minutes, in the making. But this article will highlight the specific traits that make introversion as unique as the individual experiencing it, and how to identify certain positions in the workforce that may or may not be ideal for you as an introvert. Here are some of the more important things to highlight when finding a job for an introvert…in 5 minutes.
What does it really mean to be an introvert?
The cultural collective tends to see someone as introverted who may feel drained by an excessive social stimulus or find themselves more energized or at peace when completing tasks alone. Someone may tend to be more reflective than others, need quiet in order to concentrate, prefer written over verbal communication, and feel averse to crowds in many cases.
These characteristics generally are not assumed to inherently impair those that express them. Although, in a loud, fast-paced, and social-media-based society, this can sometimes start to feel like a curse more than a blessing.
How does being an introvert differ from anxiety
When these personality traits begin to impair functioning in a person’s daily life, they can then be perceived more along the lines of anxiety and related to one’s mental health. SIgns of anxiety are often more physical in nature than the personality traits associated with introversion alone. These symptoms may include sweating, trembling, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, and a general state of restlessness or a sense of impending doom.
While self-diagnosing is definitely discouraged and speaking with a physician about potential concerns is the best course of action for someone with more questions about anxiety, advocating for oneself and one’s needs is imperative with or without a diagnosis. This certainly can be improved by becoming more educated about the subject of your concerns.
Both individuals who experience introversion and anxiety do share one potential struggle and that is securing and/or sustaining employment. Work can often be the most frequent stressor in someone’s life and this can be exacerbated by unchecked anxiety or the unmet needs of an introverted mind.
Finding a job as an introvert
Across the board, whether someone experiences social anxiety or is simply an introvert, everyone may experience heightened stress around the job search process. This can often involve having to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to strangers to try to make an impression. It may feel unnatural and be draining for you to do so. Finding the mode of communication that you are most comfortable with is a great way to start narrowing down your search.
COVID-19 may have one silver-lining in that for those of use who have struggled in the past, may have a range of new options for working from home. A great deal of these opportunities are available via online search engines and offer a new chance for people who may desire such work to find the perfect job.
Establishing a career from home, whether that is through an established organization or through your own pursuit of self-employment/freelance work, may take a bit more effort up-front compared to plugging into an existing or streamlined position in an office somewhere. However, this may prove to be the most rewarding option for many introverts to consider.
Fitting into roles that already exist in the community may seem daunting for someone that doesn’t quite feel at home in public or overtly social settings. The best place to start is by being completely honest with yourself about not only your goals but also your needs. Reconciling those will be key to finding the right career as an introvert.
You may find yourself searching for lists online that outline “Ideal Job For Introverts” and other such informative content, but your success depends on more than whether or not the job requires public speaking.
Don’t just look at the job, but the job environment
Finding or cultivating a work environment that is supportive of your personality type and mental health may be, in the long run, a lot more significant than the tasks listed in the job description. While it is healthy and sometimes necessary to get out of our comfort zones, devoting yourself to a job that regularly forces you to feel uncomfortable being yourself can be just as draining as anything else.
You may find that you are the type of person who wants to put their head down and efficiently produce a product, whether creative or otherwise. There are many ways to make a career like that reality. Data entry, tech support, research, analytics, production, and a variety of other industries have employment opportunities available that may have not even existed five years ago with the constant evolution of modern science and technology.
As many can imagine, the current health crisis has created a greater need for individuals not only to practice and participate in public health procedures but also by means of billing and documentation. Insurance companies provide a lot of opportunities for those who enjoy such work.
If you consider yourself the type of introvert that is a great listener, there are endless opportunities to put that to work. Certified peer-support specialists, mental health technicians, and others who participate in for-profit or non-profit public services often are able to utilize this gift.
Options for pursuing self-employment or a freelance career are greater than ever. At this point, it only takes minutes to set up an entire profile to show off what you’re capable of in settings that can give you exposure to jobs you never knew existed.
Above all, take advantage of resources. The world wide web is truly that. If you fight through feelings of defeat, trust the process, listen to your needs, and open yourself up to support to overcome any potential barriers, you begin the process of developing a fulfilling career.