Going through the recruitment process as an introvert can be challenging. Here are some practical strategies to make the most of opportunities for jobs or promotions as an introvert.
Traditional Recruitment Practice And Introverts
Key aspects of: Traditional recruitment practices seem to work against everything that’s natural for introverts. Click To Tweet Interviews can be particularly demanding. You talk to a person or panel of people you probably don’t know. You’re focusing on yourself, especially your best points, being as confident and outgoing as you can. Add in the constraints of a limited amount of time into the high-pressure environment of being assessed, and it’s enough to start making excuses not to put yourself in that position.
It’s often hard to feel at your best as a quieter person who generally takes more time to reflect before talking. Another hallmark of introverts that can be challenging, is a tendency to be more reserved and to use writing as the preferred style of communication.
It’s important to remember that recruitment is an assessment situation and inherently nerve-wracking, regardless of personality type. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. There are often valid reasons why recruiters may choose to test your ability to draw on your resources and think on your feet. Whatever the process or emphasis, you can learn to work your natural strengths to make the most of recruitment opportunities as an introvert. Even when using the best job seeking sites, the goal is to get a job.
Learning About The Ways That You Quietly Influence
One of the reasons I am passionate about this subject is because I have been there. As an introvert at the extreme end of the spectrum, I’ve learnt the best practices to make the most of opportunities during the hiring process. I’ve worked hard on my skills over time with the support of a coach, with the insight of feedback, from reading about introvert strengths and from learning about my specific personality type (INTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®).
A book that has helped me enormously is Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler. It focuses on the natural strengths of introverts and how use these skills to have impact. These skills can be applied in context to the employee hiring process in order to build skills over time, and position yourself more effectively for the positions you desire. Use your strengths to find a better job! Better than that, to find the right job.
Kahnweiler identifies six strategies that introverts can embrace to achieve influence:
- Taking Quiet Time
- Engaged Listening
- Focused Conversations
- Thoughtful Use of Social Media
You can identify your specific strengths with this blend of introvert strategies via a Quiet Influence Quotient (QIQ). This is valuable for understanding how you can create impact in your own unique way as an introvert, both when applying for a job and in life.
Learning To Work Your Quiet Influence In Talent Acquisition Contexts
From these strategies, the two areas that introverts can really exploit to maximize job search opportunities are: Preparation and Writing. Here are some tips in these areas to help you make the most of your introvert strengths for a successful outcome when you need help finding a job.
The biggest factor for introverts to be successful recruiting candidates is preparing thoroughly. Click To Tweet Whilst extroverts can generally think quickly on their feet, introverts often need to have done more work beforehand to have the key points at their fingertips.
The downside is, this takes time. The upside is, whatever the outcome, the time invested means you are able to talk about yourself, your experience and your results positively, clearly and confidently. However, it’s important to strike a balance between productive preparation and over-doing it. As Kahnweiler points out, “The right amount of preparation sets you apart. Too much preparation, however, can kill your confidence.”
Preparation strategies that I have found useful for recruitment situations include:
- Develop A Bank Of Achievement Case-Studies: Over time, I’ve worked to capture each of my key achievements, unpacking each example to describe the Situation, Task, Action and Results (STAR) and the skills used to achieve the outcome. This resource provides some useful templates and prompts for you to do the same, with a focus on action verbs to present yourself in the best light. It’s useful to map the stories you create against any specific, critical-selection criteria. Once you have these examples, you can ‘plug and play’ them in response to questions posed in writing or during your job interview.
- Be Able To Articulate The Skills You’ve Developed Through Experience: People sometimes have trouble talking about the specific skills they have used in practical situations. Having the language to describe the competencies, skills, knowledge and experience applied (for example, in areas like ‘strategic agility’ or ‘business acumen’), can be a powerful tool. The book, FYI® For Your Improvement, based on the Korn Ferry Leadership Architect™ Global Competency Framework (formerly Lominger) is a useful guide for talking about skills in language that connects. Whatever resource you use, ensure that you can talk about competencies and skills using words that clearly communicate your understanding and what you have achieved.
- Practice: Use your writing skills and other strengths to prepare, and when you know you need to perform, it’s time to practice. Don’t fight the need to shine. Practice talking about yourself, using the examples developed. Hearing yourself talk out loud about yourself is one of the best ways to prepare for the situation of actually doing it, as uncomfortable as it might be.
As stated, writing is often a preferred communication method for introverts. This includes a preference for email over phone contact, and written strategic approaches over verbal ones. Your role in writing a career match application of any type is to make a persuasive case for selecting you. The first step in any hiring process is usually in writing, whether it be a written job application, an online profile such as LinkedIn, or via email. Ensure your written communication presents you in the best light and showcases your skills.
You can use your strength in writing in the following ways:
- Be outcome-focused: Be succinct, on point, and emphasize the outcomes you have achieved.
- Use data and numbers to make your case: Use figures to show outcomes such as percentage change year on year, or financial figures to show scale, impact, and results.
- Be creative in how you write: Kahnweiler suggests including infographics, visuals, charts, bullet points, and other graphic elements.
Other quiet-influencing strategies:
The other strategies outlined in Quiet Influence can also be used to great effect in combination with each other. For example:
- Taking quiet time to reflect on your skills is one of the most valuable things you can do to mine the gold from your experience and make it shine.
- Engaged listening will help you perform in face-to-face situations as you concentrate on what is desired when hiring top talent. This will help you respond with the best examples and competencies from your experience.
- Focused conversation is what job interviews are all about and that is an area where introverts excel. Shift your mindset to seeing any in-person interaction as a situation where you can listen well and dig deep to provide quality responses.
- Use social media and ensure your profile is professional on online platforms so you are noticed. Actively engage with social media to connect with potential employers. Follow industry experts and organizations of interest to increase your knowledge and profile.
Who Can Help You?
Seek out support as you go through the recruitment process from coaches, mentors, trusted colleagues and friends who can provide feedback and help you practice. You don’t need to do it all alone, even though that may be your natural preference. Asking someone whose opinion you respect to give feedback on an application, or take you through your paces in an interview situation, will help immensely for the real thing.
What If I’m Not Successful?
If you’re not successful, seek feedback and learn from the experience. Identify where you can take action to improve your chances. See each step in recruitment strategies as a valuable learning experience where you have identified your skills and knowledge in a new light. Whatever, the outcome, take heart and learn from the experience so you can present yourself confidently for new opportunities as they arise.
Do I Need To Act Like An Extravert?
Susan Cain in her book Quiet describes the ‘Extrovert Ideal’ as:
“…the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.”
Cain further advises introverts not to embrace the Extrovert Ideal without thinking, as we can lose the very characteristics that make us unique. The contributions we can make are often because of the strengths and gifts of introversion. Click To Tweet
Through learning to prepare, writing strategically, listening intently, and using social media thoughtfully, we will enhance our opportunities to be seen. When called on to perform in an interview, role play, provide a presentation, or solve problems on the spot, our performance will shine all the more if we have prepared from the foundation of our natural abilities.
The most powerful action we can take is to embrace our introvert strengths and present ourselves in the strongest light to achieve our goals. As Steven Pressfield says in The War of Art: “Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
I wish you every success in your job search journey!
Do you have any workplace or personal leadership stories about an introvert? Any great tips or advice on introversion you’d like to share? We’d love to hear what you’ve got. Comment below, and connect with us on Social Media.