Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Top 10 (Plus one) Job-Search Tips for Introverts

These are my adaptations of ideas in Wendy Gelberg's book, The Successful Introvert.

10. Realize that introverts are, to many people more impressive than extroverts. They listen better, come to the point, are less likely to make impulsive errors, and aren't overwhelming. That realization should make you more comfortable in networking and in interviews.

9. Remember that in reaching out for job leads, you're imposing no more than when you ask a stranger on the street for directions. If an employer isn't interested, she needn't return your call or can quickly say she can't help you. And you can survive the rejection. Most winners are rejected more often than they're accepted.

8. Introverts love when others promote them. So if your resume is impressive, send it to a recruiter and/or staffing company. Find links to recruiting firms at the Riley Guide.

7. The Internet can be your friend. The secret is to spend most of your Net time not in answering ads but in writing to potential employers who do not have an appropriate opening. Once the job is open, the employer will usually be overwhelmed with job seekers.

Just write a 100-t0 200-word email to the person with the power to hire you--Its guts should be three one-line statements: the three thingsyou'd most want that employer to know about you. Here might be one: " When I arrived, the office was a bunch of file folders that were often out of order. Now, I've installed an electronic medical records system."

If you like, attach a work sample or others' glowing statements about you.

Conclude your email by asking the employer if s/he'd be willing to talk with you about possible employment or offer advice on where you might turn.

6. Use the introvert's preference for research over people contact to learn about your target employer and interviewers. But don't learn too much. A quick look at the employer's site, a Google search, and perhaps LinkedIn search are enough. Not only does more in-depth research take time, when a job seeker knows more about an employer than the employer does, the candidate can appear desperate and/or make the employer feel invaded, creepy.

5. You're not bragging about nor exaggerating your accomplishments; you're reporting them. That reframing can help introverts feel better about selling themselves.

4. Write a script for:
  • A 10-second job search statement, for example, "I'm a cost accountant who loves his work but my company just sent all the accounting work to India, so I'm looking for work."
  • A 45-second job search statement, for example, "After getting my degree in accounting, I worked at a small firm and then moved to Deloitte for a promotion. I've gotten really good evaluations all along and so it was a shock when I got a layoff notice--they're moving the entire accounting department to India. My favorite work has been in budget forecasting and having a seat at the table when my boss discusses strategic issues but I'm also fine with tax and audit work. I'm just looking for a job at a good company with good people that's not too long a commute from Oakland."
  • Interview questions you're afraid of, for example, "How come you've been unemployed for 10 years?"
Then practice paraphrasing your script so you don't sound scripted.

3. Employers are suckers for enthusiasm and energy. So, yes, be yourself but be your most energetic self.
2. An interview is mutual: a conversation, not an interrogation. So, apply the introvert's good listening skills during an interview to probe for information and to derive intuitions about whether you really want this job.

1. Schedule breaks to recharge your batteries when you are involved in the social aspects of job searching.

Bonus: Keep your eyes on the prize--Do what you need to do to land a good job, even if some of the necessary activities make you uncomfortable.


Gwen Ann Wilson said...

Hi! Thanks for this very informative post. I agree with you about the use of internet. It is a great help.
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Anonymous said...

I agree, except for #2. It should be a conversation, but in my recent experience, it's not. (It was a conversation in the past).

Had an interview and was interested and excited about the position, company. But it was ALL interrogation with negative undertones. ("WHY on earth would we be interested in...YOU?") Perhaps legimate during the downturn, but something to be ready for.

Marty Nemko said...

Fortunately, even in downturns, some interviewers are more sagacious than that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous here again.

Good point! One company does not a trend make...

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Marty Nemko said...

This is actually not a standard blogger template and some gadgets are added. I worry that if I superimpose some other template, that it might somehow screw things up. I'm not a fan of risking the steak so I can improve the sizzle. But thanks for caring enough to suggest it.

Anonymous said...

A common interviewing question that is difficult for both introverts and extroverts to answer is, "You appear to be overqualified."
Most of the outplacement candidates I counseled were overqualified by virtue of their experience or previous salary or both. One of the best ways to answer the "You appear to be overqualified" question is to take the offensive.
You can answer, "Yes, absolutely! And isn't that to your benefit?" That gives you the opportunity to reiterate why you would be such an asset to the company: your experience bringing in revenue, new customers, research, whatever is pertinent to the position you're seeking.
Don't apologize for your age, experience or pay grade. Use them as assets. Emphasize your energy, enthusiasm and desire to learn. For more dynamic answers to tough interview questions, check out:
Make a comment if you need the answer to other tough, tricky or sneaky interview questions.

Ina5 said...

Hi Marty,
Appreciate all your help!
Any tips for unemployed people over 50?

Thanks again!

Green Jobs said...

Introverts like me love to search jobs online.

Job Interview Tips said...

So nice to see that you chose to post some original ideas rather than re-framing all that is already posted on the net. Thanks a lot for this fresh stuff.

saisai said...

nice tips. while your still searching for job try to spend less better yet avoid spending at all, if not be a frugal shopper look for something less

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Anonymous said...

All this sounds well and good, but for those of us who have no clue what to do for a living and who have been without work for yrs. is to no avail. What advice would any one out there give to us on how and what approach to take in answering the question "How do I figure out what to do for a living".

Marty Nemko said...

Most recent anonymous, read my posts under the tag cloud term "Career advice" and "Finding a career" articles on At the risk of hubris, that's about the best you can do.

Craig said...

I agree with the 7th tip, that the internet can be your friend, actually I found all my jobs online.

Computer Hardware jobs said...

When you get right down to it, aiming for a really good job doesn't require more effort than setting your sights on a poor one. And aiming high leaves you in far better control of the outcome. Consequently, it is plainly your duty - your duty to yourself, your family, your new employer, even to society – to proceed with your job search in ways that will produce work as close as possible to the peak of your abilities and at the highest possible pay.