Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it’s smart to treat every job as a professional stepping stone that could hypothetically lead to greater opportunities. The age where individuals stay at one job for the majority of their professional career is at an end. Gen X and Baby boomers, on average, spend about seven years at one job. Millennials, however, switch jobs every two years on average.
Even if you have no desire to leave your job, it’s wise to not become complacent. You never know what life will throw at you. There are dozens of reasons why you might find yourself searching for a new job. Savvy professionals utilize their current job to make any future job searches easier.
Here are three things that you, as an introvert, can start doing now that will help you land your next job:
1. Learn new skills.
Every job grants the ability to develop new skills. Even lower end fast food and retail jobs can be a solid learning environment. Even if your company doesn’t encourage employees to continually develop new skills, you might want to set personal goals to help you grow. As an introvert, you’re probably naturally curious and you enjoy broadening your knowledge. Use that curiosity to your advantage.
Don’t be content with mediocrity. Every job should deliver more than just a paycheck. Ideally, your resume should continue to strengthen with every new job.
Below are a few strategies to integrate daily professional growth into your work week:
- Make it clear to management that you’re interested in learning a new skill set. A one-on-one might be a good time to broach the topic. You can make the conversation go smoother by prepping talking points for the conversation that focus partly on how the new skill will benefit the company.
- Volunteer to take on new tasks or projects. If you’re a tad hesitant to speak up in a staff meeting, discuss this in a one-on-one meeting with your manager. Or, send the manager an email about your interest.
- Consider switching to a new department or position within the company when growth potential halts at your current position. If you don’t feel like broaching the topic of a change to a manager yourself, just wait until new job announcements are made and apply.
- Ask co-workers about strategies or topics that are beyond your current knowledge base and skill set. Do this in whatever medium you feel most comfortable with. If simply messaging acquaintances makes you nervous, you might try choosing someone you are most comfortable with for guidance.
- Read articles in your free time about your industry. Test out what you learned at work.
- Enhance your ability to lead and work with coworkers within small, medium and large groups by conducting research and observing coworkers skilled in that particular skill. If leading a group causes stress, start small by simply offering advice and guidance to one or two people.
2. Cultivate relationships.
It’s an unfortunate truth that professional success is often based on who you know. This can put introverts in an uncomfortable position, because we’d rather get ahead because of our skills and expertise, not our social connections. However, while it’s within the realm of possibility to land a job without an inside man or woman, it’s significantly harder. This doesn’t mean you have to turn yourself into an extrovert and schmooze with everyone you meet. Coworkers, managers, and other individuals you meet within your company can be priceless assets during future job searches.
Co-workers and managers can:
- Be professional or character references
- Pass on information about potential job opportunities
- Be a future business owner or recruiter for a company
Building relationships can be a tricky endeavor for all personality types. Introverts might find it exhausting or intimidating to talk to strangers. Extroverts might be fine with talking to strangers, but they might lack the emotional intelligence (EQ) to easily build positive relationships with coworkers.
Networking successfully can be a landmine, for even the most outgoing humans. Here are some tips to build relationships with your coworkers:
- Make a concerted effort to introduce yourself to new employees. Start with small talk and salutations. Worry about building deeper connections later. If necessary, set a goal to introduce yourself to one new person every day. Once you’ve met everyone, set a goal to learn one new thing about someone every day or week.
- Put yourself in situations where you’re regularly working with a new group of people. Volunteer to move teams, join committees, or attend after work activities. I find it easier to form relationships when I’m forced to work with people. This can be a safe environment to gradually expand your social sphere.
- Relationships are a give and take. As you talk to people, offer your help (where you feel comfortable). Their gratitude might lead to reciprocity, or at the very least, make it less intimidating for you to approach them for a reference or opportunity.
- Develop your EQ enough to realize when you’re walking into a landmine. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t have a lot of social interaction at work, you should ensure that those interactions are as effective as possible. If it seems to be lacking, make an effort to increase your EQ.
3. Take advantage of educational perks.
Many companies, in an effort to encourage employees to remain with the company and enhance their employee’s knowledge base, offer free or reduced cost education. For example, Starbucks offers full tuition reimbursement for their employees if they attend Arizona State University’s online program. Others offer partial reimbursement, scholarships, or the occasional training class. If your company offers a similar programs, you should seriously consider taking advantage of them.
Education, unfortunately, is a very expensive key to professional success. You can succeed without educational classes, but it’s significantly harder. In most cases, all you need to do is apply for the program. Minimal social interaction is required.
It’s tempting to coast through the work week, especially if you don’t love your current job. However, you never know when life will throw a curve ball at you. Every individual has another potential job hunt in their future. By preparing now, you can increase the chance of quickly finding a better job in the future. Treat your current job as a stepping stone to the next opportunity. You won’t regret it.
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