Losing a job, by choice or not, is a huge life event — it’s okay to be sad and scared.
After almost four years at a job I loved, I found myself in the unfortunately all-too-common position of job hunting. Once I got past the initial shock and sadness of losing the work family I’d gotten so close to over the years, I started doing all the standard things — revamping my resume, updating my LinkedIn profile, and applying to every job that even remotely fit what I was looking for.
As an introvert, I struggled with the basics of job searching, namely networking and putting myself out there. (Email someone out of the blue and talk myself up? I was never going to emotionally recover from this!) Toss in rapidly changing economic forecasts and a complicated and problematic job market, and my overthinking ramped into overdrive.
That being said, there are ways for us introverts to lean on our strengths and make the most of a less-than-ideal situation. I’ve found that there are some key things to remember that can help us with the more uncomfortable and unchangeable aspects of life after job loss.
After all, our thoughtful, creative, and independent nature can make us a force to be reckoned with in the workplace.
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Survival Tips for Introverts Who Are Job Hunting
1. Reach out to your network (even if you don’t want to).
Let’s tackle the hardest part first — networking.
Before you roll your eyes, just hear me out. I despise networking, too; in fact, I’m absolutely terrible at it. But just because we’re introverts doesn’t mean we’re doomed to avoid it altogether or grin and bear it through networking events. (Check out the article How to Network (When You Absolutely Have To) for fantastic practical advice.)
But networking doesn’t just mean meeting strangers and exchanging emails. Think about your existing network, like former coworkers and managers, friends, and family. These are people who already know you, who are familiar with your talents, and most importantly, who are in your corner! It can be easy to avoid reaching out (after all, introverts tend to be incredibly independent), but we also love supporting other people, and now is the perfect opportunity to rely on mutual support.
Also, let others know you’re in the market for a job and ask if they’d be willing to keep you in mind if they hear about any opportunities that would be a good fit. If they don’t want to, they will say no, and that’s fine, too! Do your best not to overthink it and take them at their word — if they offer help, accept it, and if they don’t, thank them and move on.
2. Embrace the challenge. Like it or not, it will get you out of your comfort zone.
Was I excited to find a new job? Absolutely not. I loved my job, I loved my routine, and I was firmly in my comfort zone. Very little was new or unexpected, and I thrived on that comfort.
But when staying in that comfort zone was no longer an option, I realized there were downsides. Dare I say it, there were times when I was almost excited about the possibility of new opportunities that I would have been too scared to pursue before.
Being so comfortable made it more difficult to challenge myself. Once I had a job I enjoyed, my drive to create and write steadily dwindled.
We “quiet ones” love our comfort zones, but sometimes leaving them is necessary for growth. This could be an opportunity for a career change you’ve been considering or for making the leap from employee to entrepreneur (something introverts can excel at). Apply for jobs you think you might like, even if you’re not fully qualified, or find online or in-person courses on something that interests you, in order to build new skills.
That’s not to say it will be easy. There will be a lot of challenges to tackle — problematic applicant tracking systems, ghosting by employers, insane job requirements, and financial pressures, just to name a few — but that also means these are opportunities for our creativity to shine. Use this time as an opportunity to show off some of your introvert-specific strengths and what makes you uniquely you!
3. Recognize that mistakes will happen — and it’s okay.
One daunting challenge is the pressure to make every application, cover letter, and profile perfect. As a proofreader, nightmares about submitting a resume that says “attention to detal” have officially replaced those nightmares about public speaking.
And even if you’re not in a field with as much judgment about typos, when every “expert” has a different opinion on things like resume formats, cover letters, and follow-ups on applications, the likelihood of misstepping at some point is all too real.
Since some introverts have a tendency toward perfectionism, this stress can lead to decision paralysis or hesitation to put ourselves out there, for fear of making a mistake. This fear has led me to avoid connecting with people on platforms like LinkedIn or asking for feedback on resumes or cover letters — I’d rather miss out on an opportunity than make an embarrassing mistake.
While having high standards can be a good thing, berating ourselves when the inevitable happens certainly isn’t. I’m currently working on putting myself out there, even if it means I will inevitably make a mistake. I’ve asked trusted mentors for advice on my resume, I’ve reached out to people I know on LinkedIn, and I’m doing my best to accept that, at some point, I will make a mistake.
Yes, I’ll be embarrassed. Yes, it may cost me an opportunity. Yes, I’ll probably cry. (I am still a highly sensitive introvert, after all.) But I’ll also move forward and learn from it. And that’s all any of us can ask of ourselves.
4. Stand up to imposter syndrome. You are talented at what you do and someone will recognize that.
Speaking of mistakes, I find myself constantly fighting the thought that I’m only where I am in my career because of a mistake. I worry that somehow I fooled the people around me into thinking I’m good at my job when, in reality, I’m a complete fraud.
If this sounds familiar, you, too, may struggle with imposter syndrome. And it’s especially fond of rearing its ugly head during times of stress and change.
In an interview in Psychology Today, Stephen Brookfield, Ph.D., a self-proclaimed introvert, said this about the relationship between imposter syndrome and introverts and extroverts:
“I think as a rule introverts are less likely to talk publicly about this and to ruminate internally on it. Extroverts are more likely to let slip their sense of it when talking with others, which means that they are more likely to get reassurance from colleagues that they too suffer from it.”
Imposter syndrome certainly is not unique to introverts, but we may struggle with it more because of our fondness for deep thinking and self-reflection. Plus, we likely have a more difficult time talking about it because, well, we simply prefer to stay quiet.
So, if this is something you relate to, try to stand up to those thoughts of inadequacy. Read about others who have experienced this and open up to someone you trust for some of that reassurance that extroverts have been receiving. Since it’s estimated that up to 70 percent of people will experience imposter syndrome at some point, chances are they’ll relate, too.
5. Make time for self-care, no matter how busy you are.
I have my husband to thank for this reminder, and I encourage you to ask someone you trust to help you remember this, as well. Self-care is especially important during times of stress, like losing a job… searching for a job… starting a job… you get the point. While self-care is necessary for everyone, it’s absolutely crucial for introverts.
One of the biggest struggles with job hunting is the seemingly constant rejection. I don’t have a college degree, and this means I get a lot of standard rejection emails (or radio silence). Because introverts can struggle to thrive in extroverted workplaces, many of us may have more detours on our career journeys, like a high number of jobs, a non-standard education, or gap years from pursuing creative endeavors.
This means we bring some incredible skills to the table (think independent learning, creative problem-solving, self-discipline, etc.). But it also means we have to make self-care a priority to avoid getting bogged down in the all-too-real frustration that accompanies job hunting when we may not check the “traditional” boxes.
So, in addition to reading articles about job searching tips or scrolling job boards, be sure to set aside time every day to do something that brings you peace or joy. My personal favorites are jogging, listening to comedy podcasts, and reading a good book.
6. Remember — your worth is not reliant on your job!
I wanted to end this article on a positive note, like “everything will work out” or something along those lines, but empty platitudes are equivalent to small talk in my book. Yes, I want to be optimistic, but if I’m being honest, I’m more of a realist flirting with pessimism. When someone says, “Everything will work out,” or “Everything will be okay,” my first reaction is to say, “How do you know?”
Losing a job, by choice or not, is a huge life event, especially if it’s a job that you loved or that you felt aligned with your life’s purpose, something introverts are dedicated to finding. Whether you’re jumping headfirst into the job hunt or taking a moment to grieve the ending of a chapter, it’s okay to be sad and scared — I know I was.
So, I’ve decided to end with something that I do know, without a doubt, but that can be difficult to believe and remember: Your worth is not reliant on your job, your resume, or the size of your network.
Best of luck, fellow job hunter. I’m rooting for you.
You might like:
- Introvert Job Search Tips I Learned After 30 Years in Corporate America
- 5 Reasons Introverts Are the Best at Finding Their Life Purpose
- 27 ‘Strange’ Things You Do Because You’re a Highly Sensitive Person
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