Introvert Job Search Tips I Learned After 30 Years in Corporate America

Following these tips will pay dividends for years.

Whether you’re working in a large corporation, job hopping through an industry, or freelancing, the job search is part of everyone’s career journey. It is our vehicle for renewed challenge, greater contribution, and of course, promotions and pay raises.

Yet job searching skills are neither taught in school nor in companies (which are often determined to keep you from the open market).

Job searches are major life-changing events, filled with risk, uncertainty, and engagement. Thus, it can be especially frustrating for introverts to successfully tackle this undertaking while maintaining an even keel. The process can be overwhelming and drawn out, interactions can be unpleasant and anxiety-riddled, and inevitable rejections can inject doubt and worry.

So how can introverts like you and me maintain our sanity and win the battle?

What I Learned After 30 Years in Corporate America

During my 30 years in corporate America (which I write about here), I developed these 10 steps for job searching, which proved helpful both in internal job hunts and external explorations. Often these lessons emerged after I found myself in precarious work situations and unfulfilling roles.

I realized I could not leave the task of changing jobs to chance — or even to hiring managers whose goals and styles were not necessarily aligned with mine. Over time, I learned to look for roles that were a good match at the outset, which ultimately left both me and the company happy and successful.

I learned to lean on my introverted strengths — reflection, preparation, and analysis — to make the process less overwhelming and more successful. Like me, if you’re not enamored with the social lifestyle or gregarious networking, these 10 things will help.

Job Search Tips for Introverts

1. Outperform.

I can’t overemphasize this first point. All too often, we look forward too much — to our next job, career move, or whatever. While I encourage maintaining a vibrant career plan, don’t get distracted from the job at hand. When you do apply for your next role, you’ll likely find that the best items on your resume reflect strong contributions you’ve made in your current and previous jobs.

In your current role, don’t just satisfy the expectations as stated. Ensure you go above and beyond to seek, develop, and implement new ideas and task leadership. Sometimes these opportunities don’t come naturally, but find your passion and use your own introverted style to make it happen.

And remember, there’s no need to shout about your accomplishments from the top of a mountain. Humility is a valued commodity among a community of self-promoters. Ensuring you have regular one-on-one meetings with your manager to share objectives, accomplishments, and issues will provide an ample platform.

2. Maintain a networking spreadsheet.

Networking may not come naturally for introverts, but we often develop deeper relationships through projects and work teams. It’s imperative not to lose these contacts. From your first day in the work world, keep a simple spreadsheet of contacts, their departments and roles, your interactions with them, and even some personal items to recall.

When you start job searching, tap this list. Share your job search objectives, and ask for further referrals. Maintain this growing list. Note when you talk to them or are scheduled for your next discussion. Hiring managers will appreciate your follow-up, and as an introvert, you will likely take comfort in the organization. 

 3. Reflect.

Consider what roles and tasks you have the most passion for. This is the time to be authentic. It’s the time to put your financial ambitions to the side for a bit. I found that when I was in the right role, recognition and rewards naturally followed.

So be honest with yourself and with the hiring managers. Self-awareness (an introverted strength) will be your guide throughout this process and will be sensed and appreciated by the best hiring managers. If you skip this tip, you may pay the price for years to come!

4. Think broadly.

Everyone tends to narrow their choice of potential jobs to what they already know, or to roles directly connected to their current job. Instead, if you think broadly across other departments or industries where your skills and passions might apply, you may find a whole new world of possibilities.

So, don’t seek a specific job or title. Instead seek a role that has tasks you are interested in, and where you can learn and grow. You don’t have to be an expert at something to be qualified. Think broad and wide, and you might be surprised at the jobs that pop up.

5. Update your resume.

Ensure your resume is interesting and concise (1 page). Peak their interest, provide some highlights, and leave them wanting to know more. Be sure to state why you are applying and how you believe you can deliver results in the new job. Don’t be shy to expose and flaunt your introversion. Showcase your creativity, listening skills, organizational skills, work ethic, and empathy. Hiring managers who see these as valuable traits are the managers you want to work for. 

6. Solicit 5-6 enthusiastic references.

Use three for each application, selecting those most appropriate for the job. Update references on your strengths and interests, and provide them with a heads up when you’re applying for particular jobs. You may even want to ask one or two to proactively send an email to a hiring manager to support your candidacy. This is not always a comfortable step for introverts, but it is critical, and strong references will be happy to help.

 7. Prepare your answers.

Many introverts are quite adept at preparation. So leverage that strength to anticipate questions (why are you interested, what are your strengths/gaps), and prepare examples of successes, difficult conversations, and decisions you made, as well as your vision and plan for your first 30 days on the job. Such preparation will help calm your jitters, shine through in interviews, and impress managers who value such skills.

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 8. Ensure a 360° approach.

So often, job candidates feel they are under the microscope during the application and interviewing process. But remember, this is a two-way street to find the perfect fit. Prepare your own questions about the job, the team culture, and the manager’s style. Ask to meet with prospective teammates as well. Check out the company and hiring managers on social media (they are checking you out!). You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. A good fit will pay dividends for years.

9. Send a follow-up “thank you.”

Sending prompt emails after meetings and interviews will flaunt your professionalism. It also provides another opportunity to extend your appreciation and remind them of your unique strengths, experiences, and passion for the role. If you are no longer interested, a gentle note along those lines will be appreciated, ensuring you don’t burn any bridges, and possibly leading to other referrals as a result.

10. Keep a positive attitude.

Securing your next job may be difficult and humbling. Ensure you have a friend or family member to lean on. Carve out some extra alone time for yourself. Then, if possible, seek feedback on those unsuccessful applications, then use that feedback to tweak your approach. The job search process is very competitive, but there are “great fit” roles out there for introverts. Apply for those. Pass on others. With time, you will find that next magnificent role for you.

Most people in the workforce put in 40 to 60 hours a week for 30 or 40 years — which is a lot of time to spend on any one thing. So find those jobs that challenge and excite you. Those are the ones that will complement your life and who you are, rather than tear it down.

Best of luck!

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Steve Friedman grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. After excelling academically at The University of Alabama with a major in Finance, Friedman worked thirty years in various Logistics and Trading leadership roles with Shell Oil. During most of his career, he struggled to reconcile his introverted personality with the pressure-packed social environment of corporate America. Friedman enlisted various destructive, addictive behaviors to try to cope and survive. In 2018, Friedman retired, finally ready to embrace his true personality with a focus on health, family, and introspective writing. Connect with him at BeyondIntroversion.com.