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    Career & job-hunting tips for managing introversion

    Introverts quietly can make big impact
    By Laura Raines
    AJC.com
    June 21, 2009

    At age 12, Bob Goodyear, now a technical product manager for global software and services corporation Symantec, had to research careers and write a report about one he’d like to do.

    He skimmed past booklets on doctors and lawyers to find one on computer programmers. He was excited to find a career where he didn’t have to work with people.

    “I could work with something that didn’t talk back,” he said. “Do you think that was a clue that I’m an introvert?”

    If not, his reaction to the college curriculum for computer science should have been. He had no problem with the calculus and physics. The public speaking course terrified him. In time, Goodyear made the transition from programming to a high-profile product management position where he presents at conferences and meets with clients all over the world.

    “I credit Jennifer Kahnweiler with helping me to find some good coping mechanisms for managing my introverted qualities,” he said. “Understanding introversion helped me recognize my strengths and strategize before situations that make me uncomfortable.”

    Preferring to listen and process, he still doesn’t brainstorm well, but if asked for his thoughts, his co-workers have learned that they will be thoughtful — and may lead the discussion in a new, productive direction.

    “Introverts can be very successful leaders,” said Kahnweiler, an Atlanta-based executive coach, professional speaker and author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength.

    “But there is no doubt that they have a tougher time in the extroverted business world. In my 2 1/2 years of research, four out of five introverted professionals said that extroverts are more likely to get ahead where they work. The good news is that introversion can be managed — and that’s a must-do in the current recession because being ‘out there’ is vital to finding or keeping a job.”

    According to the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator test that describes personality differences, introverts get their energy from time alone; extroverts get their energy from being around other people. “Introverts think first and talk later. They’re more reserved, show less facial expression, focus on depth rather than breadth and aren’t always easy to read,” Kahnweiler said.

    “Being good listeners, and thought-processors make them strong leaders, but other characteristics may hold them back.”

    Being aware of the following challenges may help introverts navigate through today’s rough business climate.

    - “Introverts tend to undersell themselves,” Kahnweiler said. “Careers are made or broken by what people know about you. If your boss is the only one who knows what you are doing, you may be working harder, not smarter.” Kahnweiler suggests giving reports more often, mentoring professionals on other teams and telling them about your work and copying relevant people on e-mails about work progress or accomplishments. In short, do more marketing and networking.

    “You have to educate your stakeholders,” she said.

    Goodyear noticed that he often undervalued himself on job reviews. “I hated tooting my own horn, but managers often raised my ratings. My advice is that you’re probably better than you think. Allow yourself to express it. It will build confidence.”

    - “Introverts often suffer from people exhaustion,” said Kahnweiler, “but not keeping up your social and professional network in today’s climate can hurt you.”

    Overwhelmed by too many office meetings, conferences and business lunches? Schedule some breaks in your day.

    “Come in early to be alone or stay late to process your thoughts,” Kahnweiler said. “Use e-mail or social media to stay in contact with people — introverts prefer writing to talking — and have a game plan for social functions. Know who you want or need to meet. Research them beforehand. It will be easier to start a conversation.”

    - “Introverts don’t show much facial expression,” she said. “If you’re not showing emotion, people will project their own emotions onto you, or wonder what you’re up to,” Kahnweiler said. Practice smiling, nodding or making eye contact more often.

    - "Introverts generally don’t enjoy office politics,” Kahnweiler said, but understanding what’s going on in your organization and who the influential players are can help you manage your career.

    - “Introverts are better listeners than talkers,” Kahnweiler said. “Play to this strength. Workers want to be heard today. There’s so much stress and pressure at work. They need leaders who can listen, exude calm and give thoughtful responses.”

    Related articles:


    Shy? 10 Tips for Introverted Job Seekers

    The Introverted Leader

    Related blog:

    The Introverted Leader Blog

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    Re: Career tips for managing introversion

    More info:

    "Many people seem to think that introverts are not good at dealing with people," says Chan, who speaks purposefully, listens deeply, and asks thoughtful questions. "This is far from reality." Instead, he continues, "Introverts are often well equipped to build deep individual relationships, and this can be very useful when looking for jobs."

    Introverts and Unemployment - Notes from the Trenches, Part 1 | Psychology Today

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    Re: Career tips for managing introversion

    Why Don’t Students Network?
    Wall Street Journal Blogs: Hire Education
    by Geoff Falen

    In my 22 years as an academic and career adviser, I’ve found that the single hardest thing for students to engage in during their transition from college to career is networking.

    They’ll update their resume, or ask for help with cover letters and job applications. However, most won’t extend themselves to gain information from people who may well be able to help them connect with a potential employer, learn more about a particular industry, relocate to a particular area of the country, or advise them regarding further education.

    And yet, recent graduates (from the past five years) often report on the importance of networking in their post-college lives and bemoan the fact that they did not do more, or any, of it when they were in school.

    Today’s college student is an extremely active social networker, but there are mostly blank looks when I discuss online directories, professional association Web sites, LinkedIn.com, or other avenues by which to connect with professionals, alumni or others for information and resources. What is the cause of this disconnect in the online generation, the one that, theoretically, is most primed to understand the power of the Internet to help them transition to life after college?

    I believe there are three main reasons. First, there is the anxiety about approaching someone whom they don’t know, even if there is a shared affinity—alumni connection, friend of a friend, former internship or job supervisor, etc. The truth is that many people, particularly alumni, are willing to assist students with information and advice, especially if that request is professionally delivered and, ideally, targeted to the person’s area of expertise or knowledge...

    The second obstacle is students’ lack of understanding on how to frame correspondence or questions for maximum effect. Most career-services centers offer a range of assistance related to networking. These may include online networking tutorials, sample questions, group workshops, how-to books, as well as individual editorial assistance. Many students don’t take advantage of these resources.

    The third reason students don’t network is identity. An undergraduate’s primary identity is that of a student and not a job seeker. I often hear variants of the following in my conversations with students: “My job is to finish my classes right now.” “I’ll begin thinking about the process after graduation.” “I’m not sure what I want to do, so I can’t even start yet.” Even those students who seem to “get it” in a workshop or individual counseling session are still reluctant to follow up with solid networking leads.

    This is because networking can be challenging, requiring research and strategy for an often unclear payoff. So students faced with competing concerns that are both immediate and tangible (thesis/course work, campus job, social life, etc.) opt not to invest the time and effort in networking, where the rewards (job contacts, career advice, informational interviews) are in the future and remain unclear.

    Until and unless they begin to feel the pressures of parental directives, student loans, and lack of income—among others—many students will choose not to engage in what they feel is “risky” behavior in terms of outcome, effort and anxiety. But those students who recognize early on that there is lifelong value to developing the skill of networking through practice will be at a distinct advantage relative to their peers after graduation.

    Geoff Falen is director of the Career Center at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

    Related articles:
    How to Use LinkedIn to Get a Job
    New Workplace Rules for Job Success
    University to Provide Online Reputation Management to Graduates

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    Re: Career & job-hunting tips for managing introversion

    An Introverts's Inner Critic | Psychology Today

    ...You may relate to the nuisance your inner critic poses whether or not you're an introvert. However, research on the brain has found that introverts experience even more internal chatter than extroverts....

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    Re: Career & job-hunting tips for managing introversion

    Here’s an example of the perfect LinkedIn profile summary, according to Harvard career experts

    Here’s what makes it a strong profile summary:

    • Can be skimmed in 30 seconds or less
    • Professional headline is below 120 characters, lists career focus and components of work
    • Includes industry-related keywords, core skills, strengths, talents and interests
    • Well written in a professional style, no spelling and grammatical mistakes
    • Answers questions that provides deeper insight about the individual: What makes her unique? Where is her career headed? How would others describe her? What are her values and personal traits?

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